SciFi Weekend: Gilmore Girls A Year In The Life; CW Superhero Crossover; Bryan Fuller and Star Trek Discovery; Class; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Luke Cage; Sense8; Westworld

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Gilmore Girls, A Year In the Life finally revealed the greatest mystery beyond the secret of life, the universe and everything (which was revealed in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to be 42). Major spoilers ahead as I figure that any fan of Gilmore Girls will have completed the series by now. It is only six hours and it is Lorelai, Rory, Emily, and Stars Hollow, after all. The series concluded with those four final words which  Amy Sherman-Palladino had intended when she first started the series, but did not get to use because of leaving the series for its final seventh season over contract disputes. After years of waiting, we now know they were, “Mom. “Yeah?” “I’m pregnant.” The words, in retrospect, were entirely predictable. As we learned from Battlestar Galactica, “All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.” Lorelai being pregnant with Rory years earlier set up the series, and now all of it will happen again.

Of course it will not happen exactly the same. Rory will not run off and leave her family as Lorelai did. Rory is now much older than both Lorelai was, and also significantly older than Rory would have been if the four final words were spoken at the end of the original seventh season. She could go down a completely different path. “Rory doesn’t have to keep the baby,” as Amy Sherman-Palladino told TVLine. “There are choices here that she can make. It’s just the left turn. It’s that curveball that life throws you. I will say, weirdly, that I like it much more now. ”

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The revival captured much of what made the original series great. Most of the old cast was seen, with Paris having some of the best scenes. Drop Murder She Wrote and sign Liza Weil for a Paris Geller spinoff. There were many additional cameos, including cast members from Bunheads and Parenthood. This included her Parenthood daughter Mae Whitman. The two park rangers were played by Jason Ritter, a romantic interest on Parenthood, and by Peter Krause, her brother on the show, and real-life romantic partner. A full list of cameos can be found here.

There were many pop culture references. This includes genre references include Doctor Who (with an appearance by Alex Kingston), Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel Movies, Outlander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks (with Ray Wise also having a role), and Game of Thrones. While there were far too many to mention all the genre references here, Screen Rant has a full list. The timing of the show, taking place during the 2016 election year but filming before the results were known, prevented them from including political references. A future season of Gilmore Girls could easily include some snarky comments about Donald Trump–as they sometimes did at the expense of George Bush and other Republicans during the original run. I collected some examples here and here.

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Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino gave multiple interviews which covered some of the points discussed, included whether Stars Hollow would have gone for Donald Trump. Here’s a portion of one interview from Vulture:

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: the final four words. You’ve said these were the same four words that would have marked the end of the original series. But did you ever contemplate changing the ending for A Year in the Life in a way that differed from that plan?
Amy Sherman-Palladino: We didn’t really know what that last season was until we got into it and then we asked a lot of questions and we found out where the show ended. The show could have ended in a different place that made those last four words completely irrelevant. So we went into breaking this in a way that we were really looking at it like these three women are at a crossroads. The patriarch has died and what’s the way forward for them?

Organically, the last four words fell into place on this. It’s not something we would have shoved in there if it hadn’t really led us to a good space and if we weren’t churning toward that anyhow. What’s interesting about the last four words as originally conceived is they would have been when [Rory] was 22, and while that still, I think, thematically would have worked with the whole idea of history repeating itself full freaking circle — you know, daughter follows in mother’s footsteps — to me it’s actually more interesting, it takes on more relevance, that it’s at the same age. She’s at the same age now that Lorelai was when we started the series.

That’s just an interesting kind of dynamic. When we met Lorelai, she was 32 and that’s where she was in her life and now we’re leaving Rory at 32 with the thing on the horizon. It felt kind of cooler to us to do it now than if we had done it when we were still on the WB.

Also, Rory has had an opportunity to live life and do some things that her mom didn’t.
ASP: She’s bringing more to whatever decision she makes than she would have at 22, fresh out of college.

Let me ask you this: Do you know who the father of Rory’s baby is?
ASP: We do…

I’m sure everyone is asking you this question, but do you want to do another season or series of mini-movies like this? Has that been discussed at this point?
DP: Nothing’s been discussed. This was kind of set as a one-off thing, but we would never have anticipated that we were going to do this up until a couple of years ago when it occurred to us. So we never say never. It wasn’t designed to go beyond this, but it certainly can go beyond this.

ASP: Yeah, it wasn’t the sales pitch. The sales pitch was, these are the four stories, this is A Year in the Life, this is what it’s going to be. There were no ulterior motives walking into that room to pitch, other than we think it will be really interesting to see where these women are over this particular year.

Because it ends the way that it does, some people may assume that, “Oh, they set it up to continue.”
ASP: Nope, not at all. We’ve always tried to not wrap things up in a bow. We tried to do that on the series. Because life isn’t like that. You can have a good moment with a parent you are estranged from, and you have a great moment, and then the next time you see them, everything’s back to the way it was before and you guys are throwing knives at each other. Life doesn’t tend to fix things or wrap them up in bows. Because of that, we wanted the ending of this to not have a pat, “And they all lived happily ever after!”

It’s not that it’s a sad ending, particularly, but it’s an ending of, “And life throws you another left turn and then you’ve got to go with the flow.” That’s what we’ve always tried to do, successfully or unsuccessfully, with the show over the life of it. We felt it would have been weird to end this year with, “Everyone’s happy! Yay! Unicorns for all!”

A detail that jumped out at me while I was watching was a poster with the date of Luke and Lorelai’s wedding, which would have been a few days before the election. I didn’t know if that was something that was …
ASP: They were so happy then. So innocent to the ways of the world.

DP: We were tempted to put something about — you know, because there was the prospect and the likelihood that there was going to be a woman president-elect at the very, very end. I think that poster [originally] indicated that it would be on November 19, I think it was post-election. I think it may have been post, you know, it was right around that time. We in this industry can’t afford to even predict the future even when it’s as certain as Hillary Clinton winning the presidential election. Quite frankly, this show — Amy and I are dyed in the wool liberals and very left wing. But the show, we always wanted it to be bipartisan and Stars Hollow is a — probably voted for Trump, mainly …

ASP: No. No, no, no, no.

DP: Oh, I think they did.

ASP: No, no, no, no, no.

DP: It’s rural America!

ASP: No, no, no, no, no. There is no evilness in Stars Hollow. Do not put that out there, I do not accept that. Absolutely not.

DP: Okay, maybe it’s a …

ASP: No. No.

DP: … clean, liberal …

ASP: No. No.

DP: … maybe.

ASP: No. No, no, no. The problem is that if we had known Satan was taking over the world we would have needed a whole other budget for, like, dragons and flying demons and, you know, like the sun disappearing from the world. Winter is coming. It would have been so expensive the way we would have needed to do it, had we known that the apocalypse was coming. It’s good we didn’t, so we didn’t have to spend all that money on horns, harpies — and Minotaurs and women with snakes.

Gilmore Girls, A Year In The Life works well as a stand-alone revival, or given the flexibility of Netflix, it should be possible to have further mini-seasons.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow --"Invasion!"-- Image LGN207c_0156.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): David Ramsey as John Diggle, Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom, Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Nick Zano as Nate Heywood and Victor Garber as Professor Martin Stein -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The CW Network had its big cross over event with Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.The episodes were a treat not only for fans of the CW shows, but for all genre fans. While there weren’t as many genre references as in Gilmore Girls, MoviePilot.com listed some of the Easter Eggs for genre fans included in the episodes.

Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim discussed some of the issues raised in the episodes with TVLine:

WILL THERE BE MORE FLASHPOINT CHANGES FOR ARROW AND LEGENDS CHARACTERS? | The producers are keeping mum on that front, but Guggenheim did share that “there’s a fair amount of discussion” about the subject in next Wednesday’s Arrow midseason finale. “[The characters] deal with — in some humorous ways, actually — some of the ramifications. For example, I think Curtis is concerned that maybe he was straight, originally.” As for whether Barry’s voicemail is directly tied to Flashpoint or referencing more changes that the speedster makes down the road, Kreisberg offers this cryptic tease: “The message from the future relates to Flashpoint, but it also may relate to something else coming up.”

WILL SUPERGIRL VISIT EARTH-1 AGAIN? | Now that Kara has a way to communicate and travel across Earths, crossovers are certainly “easier” to execute, Kreisberg says. “The next time we do it, it means it doesn’t necessarily have to be because Oliver and Barry need Kara; it could be because Kara needs them.” However, the EP notes that nothing is in the works, seeing as how “we just barely survived this one. So we’re not too concerned with what we’re going to try to do next year. But it just gives us another way to come at a story.”

WILL STEIN’S DAUGHTER BE BACK? | “You’ll see her again in a few episodes,” Guggenheim says. And as early as next Thursday’s Legends midseason finale, “the ramifications” of Stein and Jax keeping the doc’s newly discovered offspring a secret “come into play.”

COULD THE NEW PRESIDENT HAVE BEEN LYNDA CARTER? | “Actually, in the original draft of the Legends episode, she was the Vice President, who became the President,” Guggenheim reveals. “The studio had what we all considered to be a very fair note [that] it was a bit too confusing.”

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Bryan Fuller is no longer involved with Star Trek: Discovery, but his early work on the series should still have a big impact on the direction of the series. From Newsweek:

“Ultimately, with my responsibilities [elsewhere], I could not do what CBS needed to have done in the time they needed it done for Star Trek,” Fuller explains to Newsweek. “It felt like it was best for me to focus on landing the plane with American Gods and making sure that was delivered in as elegant and sophisticated a fashion as I could possibly do.”

CBS opted to move ahead without Fuller after previously accommodating his and co-creator Alex Kurtzman’s request to push the show’s planned January 2017 premiere to May in order to “achieve a vision we can all be proud of.” Variety reported in September that the pair wanted to meet fans’ expectations, particularly with special effects.

“It is bittersweet,” says Fuller. “But it was just a situation that couldn’t be resolved otherwise…so I had to step away.”

Fuller—who retains an executive producer credit—wrote the first two episodes of Discovery and the story arc for the rest of the 13-part first season. CBS said it would see his “vision through,” but the writer confirms he has no active involvement with the series.

“I’m not involved in production, or postproduction, so I can only give them the material I’ve given them and hope that it is helpful for them. I’m curious to see what they do with it,” he says.

He commented on a potential second season: “They have my number and if they need me I will absolutely be there for them.”

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Class began it season with an appearance by Peter Capaldi and now has completed its first season with a surprise visit from a classic Doctor Who enemy. As it won’t be airing in the United States until spring, I won’t give any details. Those interested can find out more here. Warning, the spoiler is in the title and cannot be avoided if you click on the link. Review of the episode here.

Jenna Coleman reports that filming of the second season of Victoria will start in February. The first season will be available in the United States on Masterpiece on PBS starting January 15.

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The above picture provides several clues about Sherlock. Radio Times goes through the clues, which include a nod to a Doctor Who character.

Netflix has picked up Luke Cage for a second season.

Originally Netflix was only going to release a Christmas episode of Sense8. Now they have decided to release the entire second season on December 23. (Update: The second season will not be released until May.)

Masters of Sex has been canceled after its fourth season. The show has gone downhill and it didn’t seem like they really knew what to do with it anymore. I just wish that they had known that it would be the final season earlier. Rather than a meandering fourth season, they could have told a story over a longer time span and taken the story until wherever they wanted to ultimately finish it.

Amazon has canceled Good Girls Revolt after its first season. I have not had a chance to see it yet, but I had added the first season to my queue following favorable reviews.

Last week more fan theories were confirmed on Westworld but there are a lot of questions remaining. With the season finale airing soon after this will be posted, there is little point on speculating further until the finale is viewed. I do have one additional tip for casual viewers who have not been paying attention to all the on-line discussion of the show. Pay close attention to the opening credits. The scenes do give away a lot.

Alec Baldwin did his impersonation of Donald Trump once again on Saturday Night Live, this time mocking his use of Twitter. Probably failing to see the irony, Trump responded by blasting Baldwin with a tweet. Baldwin offered to stop doing his impersonations if Trump would release his tax returns.

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Continuum; Fargo; The Flash; Agent Carter; Constantine and Other New Shows Based On Comics; Neurotic Robots

"Orphan Black" Ep 208 Day 6 Photo: Jan Thijs 2013

Orphan Black introduced yet another clone on Variable And Full Of Perturbation, a transsexual clone named Tony. Besides providing for some interesting interaction with Felix, Tony introduction could be a way to get into the back stories of two other characters raised, Beth and Paul (who seems to be missing). We only saw Beth briefly in the first episode before she jumped in front of a train so it would be interesting to learn more about her.

The aftermath of the death of Dr. Leekie are important both back at Dyad and for the improved relationship between Alison and Donnie. Alison has not learned a lesson about being quiet about her role in the death of Aynsley, but Donnie now has a murder of his own to confess. Alison can theoretically be implicated due to the evidence in the car and the use of her gun, but fortunately for her Dyad will probably cover up Leekie’s murder with the claim of a heart attack. Dyad would also keep quiet about the relationship between Donnie and Leekie.

One long standing question has been answered and Rachel was not happy about the answer. Only the twins Sarah and Helena can get pregnant due to an error as all the clones were designed to be infertile. Although she is in a dominant position at Dyad, Rachel suffers as all the other clones do, making me wonder if in this show of changing alliances, if at some point Rachel will consider her shared interests with the other clones and alter her behavior towards them.

Cosima did a great job in playing the nerd girl, beating all the other nerds at Runewars when she came back to the lab at night and caught them playing. There is no way the ending scene means she will really die.

I wonder how much Kira will learn from reading The Island of Dr. Moreau , and all the scientific notes in the margins.

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Entertainment Weekly spoke with spoke with Orphan Black creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett about introducing Tony:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Obviously the big shock this episode is we meet a new clone, and it’s not just a clone, but a transclone named Tony. Tell me about when and how you developed this idea.

GRAEME MANSON: It really came about near the end of the first season. And I believe John and I and the writers had been mulling this idea of a transclone as, “Okay, that’s a really crazy and complex idea.” And then strangely, almost parallel at the same time, out in the hair and make-up trailer camp with Tat and Steven and Sandy and her team — who really work together on discovering character through looks — I think that they were coming up with the idea at the same time. So eventually when we brought it up with Tatiana it was like we had been thinking the same thing.

JOHN FAWCETT: We went out to dinner with Tatiana in March or April 2013 after season 1 had wrapped to just talk about some of Graeme and my ideas for season 2, and the transclone idea came up and Tat went, “Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe it but that’s what we’ve been thinking as well!” So she was very excited about the idea of doing it already, so it really was not a hard sell to say, “We want to try to tackle this.”

MANSON: And then through the early days of shooting season 2, John and I would be sitting at lunch or something, and then Sandy or Steven would come by and say, “Hey, we’ve got something to show you, can you come out back?” And we’d come out back and there would be Tat in the early guises of Tony —  like, the smoke hanging from her mouth, leaning up against the truck. And they did that to us about three times before finding the look, and each time we’d go and we’d hang out with Tony for a little while and try to get a feel for the character.

FAWCETT: And Tat was doing those make-up things with Steven and Sandy, doing it on weekends and her days off because it was very, very top secret. The crew didn’t know; we didn’t want anyone to see her dressed like that. Nobody on the crew knew. We tried to keep that absolutely under wraps, and it’s still one of our biggest secrets of the season. We want this to be a massive surprise for the audience. And it really was a character close to Tatiana that she poured her heart and soul into. It’s really something that she wanted to do.

EW: And how nervous were you guys because this is the type of thing that if it doesn’t work, it’s can be a total disaster. So there’s a risk involved.

FAWCETT: It was interesting shooting that episode, because day 1 of shooting Tony, everyone knew what we were doing now because everyone had seen the script, and I remember waiting on set for her to arrive and it was very, very quiet. I’ve never seen the crew that quiet. And when she showed up there was excitement, but very quiet excitement. It was dead silent on set that day. Because there’s a lot of respect from the crew towards Tatiana, towards what she has to do, and this just commanded that much more respect.

MANSON: I don’t think we ever looked at it as risk. We looked at it as, okay, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it from exactly the right place creatively and story-telling wise and we’re going to commit 100%. And as long as we move forward with our hearts in the right place, hopefully the sexual politics rise above it. That’s sort of how we approached the storytelling, too. Throw the character in and treat the character exactly like you’d treat anyone else, and give them their dignity and respect.

EW: It’s funny because the scene that totally screwed with my mind was the Tony and Felix kissing scene. That threw me just for the fact that it would be creepy to make out with someone who looks like your sister, which you kind of referenced later with Tony calling Felix a “sister kisser.”

FAWCETT: That was one of those parts of the story that really solidified this concept for me. As we were trying to figure out how to use the character, that to me was the pinnacle of what made this so cool — to put Tony and Felix together in a very strange romantic way that left Felix very conflicted. And then the other aspect of these two kisses is that you have to go, “Wait a minute! That’s Tat and Jordan!” [Laughs] The reality of it is it’s not Tony and Felix, it’s Tat and Jordan. And when you go and think that, that’s even a bigger mindf—.

They also discussed Cosima:

EW: And then you have to go and screw with Cosima again at the end and have her coughing up blood and convulsing after she meets Ethan. She’s getting this treatment from Kira yet seems to be getting worse. What’s up with that?

FAWCETT: The treatment that she’s getting from Kira is a band-aid at best. As we’ll see, there may be more treatment options coming, but what she is getting at this point is not enough to counter the effects of what she’s been inflicted with.

MANSON: And the bottom line is, her situation is getting more dire and is advancing fairly rapidly. And this is the ticking bomb that we talked about way back when. But there is very much a ticking bomb, a ticking clock, on Cosima’s life. This is just a more aggressive, visceral display of what it might be to come if they don’t solve that problem.

EW: Okay, John, you huge board game nerd. How excited were you to work Runewars into this episode?

FAWCETT: Well I certainly helped kick that ball down the road. We loved the idea that Scott was going to come back and was going to join us at Dyad because it was character that we just loved and then it was like, “How can we have fun with Scott?” And we all cracked up at the idea that Cosima would come back into the lab late at night, she’s working late, and find Scott with all these super nerdy buddies playing some kind of geek ass board game. I’m a massive board game fan. I probably have a closet that has a good 80 or 90 really idiotically geeky board games and Runewars is one of my favorite games and was created by a company called Fantasy Flight games. And they’ve been so good to us that they allowed us to use this game. So we went all out and I had one of my geeky friends help as the consultant to make sure all the gameplay was accurate, all the dialogue between the characters in regard to the gameplay was accurate.

Continuum - Season 3

Continuum is now only airing five days ahead of Syfy on Showcase, making it easier to discuss the current episode without any risk of spoilers. Revolutions Per Minute showed a further deterioration in the relationship between Alec and Kiera now that Kiera knows that Alec drilled into her dead doppleganger’s head to remove her CMR. Ever since the beginning of the show back in the first season there were questions as to whether we were developing a circular paradox in which Alec would come up with his inventions due to Kiera bringing technology back from the future. This was most overt in this episode. I wonder if Kiera now wonders if she chose the wrong Alec, and if perhaps she will free the other one.

The path from here to the future has always been convoluted because of not knowing if having Kiera and Liber8 go back in time would lead to changing the future, or their actions were part of creating that future. The question is even more confusing this season with the introduction of alternate time lines. In some ways we are seeing actions leading towards creating the future we have seen. Alec was called before a secret group which just might be the first step in forming the Corporate Congress. Julian now looks more like someone headed to becoming a leader of Liber8, or is he becoming closer to Alec?.  Liber8’s actions in the past seem far more likely to be changing things than to be causing the future Kiera came from to come about.

Before this season it looked like Alec was on track to head SadTech. In this alternate time line, instead he leads Piron. Kellogg’s law suit seems to be aimed at returning Alec to SadTech, with Kellogg even pointing out that this is what Alec was destined to do. On the other hand, the guy from the future had memories of Kellogg as someone important without recognizing Alec Sadler’s name. Presumably he comes from a time line in which Kellogg had taken on Alec’s role, probably messing things up even more than Alec. Is this the future of the time line we are now viewing, did he come from a different time line, or maybe Kiera’s actions will determine which time line gets played out. It looks like he possibly had killed the other Kiera because her actions were responsible for creating a time line in which his family was killed but his story isn’t entirely clear.

The idea of multiple time lines also raises questions as to whether anything we see is really permanent. Will we wind up seeing a different time line next season in which Betty is still alive, along with other differences?

The episode also seems to have brought about an abrupt end to a plot point set up earlier in the season when Dillon arranged for his daughter to be briefly placed in prison so she could later infiltrate Liber8. She was recruited by them, but quickly extracted so that there would be no more Bettys.

With only three episodes remaining in this season we should soon have a better idea where this is all leading. It will also be easier to judge the season, which has been of mixed quality, when we can see the story as a whole.

Fargo The Heap

Fargo is also coming near the end of the season, and just as things were starting to drag they jumped ahead a year. Molly and Gus are married and Lester is looking more successful. Presumably things will change for him and Molly will finally get a chance to prove what happened. Lester was doomed from the start, but it seems more satisfying to see him get caught the more he is shown as not being such a good guy. With the success of this series it comes as no surprise that another season is being considered. Presumably it would be a completely different story in the same universe, in the same manner in which the television show is related to the movie. Martin Freeman has already indicated he only planned to be in the show for one year, and it would be best if Lester is not the main character next season. I could see the series working with some of the secondary characters still being involved.

Showtime has renewed Penny Dreadful for a second season.

Comics are providing material for multiple television shows. Arrow has been the best example, and a spin off, The Flash, has been picked up by CW (extended trailer above). ABC is adding Agent Carter as a limited episode series to run for ten episodes in the same time slot as Agents of SHIELD when it is on hiatus. As Agents of SHIELD will deal with the rebuilding of SHIELD and Agent Carter with its founding, the two stories will tie in to some degree. Marvel is also working on several projects to appear on Netflix including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. Fox has picked up Gotham, which will deal with the city prior to Batman, concentrating on Jim Gordon. Trailer below:

I’ve heard some of the most encouraging predictions about Constantine, which was picked up by NBC for next season: “A new adaptation of DC’s Hellblazer comics, Constantine stars Matt Ryan (Assassin’s Creed IV) as the title character, John Constantine, a demon hunter and master of the occult. Starring alongside Ryan is Lucy Griffiths (True Blood) as Liv, the daughter of an old friend of Constantine, who has her own abilities that prove crucial when it comes to thwarting evil.” The trailer is above. IGN interviewed the stars:

IGN: It looks like the show has a fun mixture of different elements.

Matt Ryan: Yeah, definitely. I think as with the source material, there’s so much to draw from in terms of the character and the balance of humor and wit and dark and gritty. It’s great, because John has this kind of real sarcastic, ironic British wit. It’s funny, but at the same time it’s serious and dark and gritty. It’s got it all, I think.

IGN: Can you talk about the dynamic between your characters? What does Liv make of John?

Lucy Griffiths: Like how all women like to feel about men, she loves him and she hates him. She thinks he’s an absolute idiot, and she just finds him annoying. At the same time, she can’t deny that he’s a genius, and she’s thrilled by what he has to offer her in terms of excitement. He’s irresistible to her from that point of view.

Ryan: But dangerous to her as well.

Griffiths: Yeah, and she helps him. She’s his psychic sidekick.

IGN: As you just referenced, your character has some abilities too…

Griffiths: Yeah, I actually have more magic than him. [Laughs]

Ryan: Not so much “magic.” Let’s be firm on this! But no, she actually has an ability, and John seeks her out because he’s got a message from beyond the grave, from an old friend of his, whose daughter is in trouble. That’s Lucy’s character Liv. Then John goes about saving her and at the same time discovers that she has this ability. So then he kind of uses that ability and slightly manipulates her, but they need each other, and they set about trying to rid the world of all the evil.

The trailer follows:

Discovery reports on the latest trend in robotics–building neurotic robots. This puts us closer to making Marvin the Paranoid Robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy a reality.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Let’s Kill Hitler & Torchwood: Miracle Day

Tonight we had a rare event,which will reoccur for a brief time: new episodes of both Doctor Who and Torchwood. Even rarer, both are at a point where they are starting to give answers. Who Killed Hitler gave a lot of answers regarding the season-long arc as well as the multi-season story of River Song. Major spoilers follow.

The story began with Amy and Rory near home, having built a signal for the Doctor in a corn field. There’s no explanation of how the two got back to earth after the Battle of Demons Run, and this is just one of many plot-holes which it is best to ignore to enjoy this over-the-top story. They are  joined by their childhood friend, Mels, who is obsessed with the Doctor and blames all evil in the world on the Doctor’s failure to fix things. This leads to a trip through time to kill Hitler, who spent most of the episode locked in the cupboard.

Mel’s attempt to kill Hitler was interrupted by the Tesselector, a ship full of time travelors disguised as a shape-shifting robot which tortures historical villains who otherwise went unpunished. They shifted their target from Hitler to who they described as the worst war criminal in history–the woman who killed the Doctor.

This is all interspersed with flashbacks of Mels growing up with Amy and Rory. The later two had a relationship just as we might imagine. Rory was infatuated with Amy but Amy, who really did like Rory, assumed he was gay because he never showed any interest in other girls. At least Amy did run after Rory when Mels pointed out the flaw in her thoughts about Rory.

Mels got killed in  Hitler’s office and regenerated into a confused version of River Song. Leave it to Steven Moffat to have Amy name her daughter after her old friend Mels, who was actually River Song/Melody Pond all along. In a strange way, Amy and Rory did get to raise their child.

River was programmed to kill the Doctor and kissed him with poisonous lipstick, with regeneration also somehow prevented. Meanwhile, Amy and Rory got miniaturized and beamed into the Tesselector. This set up Rory for one of the great lines of the episode:  “I’m trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor.”

Meanwhile the Doctor, who already had a new coat and who was now in the midst of dying, spent much of his remaining time getting dressed up in formal wear. We got the rumored scenes with post-companions, but they were just projections from the TARDIS. There continued to be adventure  aboard the Tesselector, which for some unknown reason was packed with giant killer jellyfish. Amy prevented the Tesselector from killing River by destroying the mechanism which kept the jellyfish from killing everyone aboard–both a morally questionable move as well as one with obvious dangers.

The Doctor convinced River she didn’t want to go through life knowing she had killed her true love before they even got involved. As the Doctor put it, ““She did kill me, and then she used her remaining lives to bring me back. As first dates go, I’d say that was mixed signals.”

By River giving up her remaining regenerations to save the Doctor, she set up her own death in Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead. I wonder if this also means the Doctor will have additional regenerations, providing one way for Moffat to get around the previously established (and certain to be bypassed) limitation on regenerations.

All this went on with very little of Hitler in the actual story. Here is Adolph Hitler’s reaction to his appearance in Doctor Who:

In this episode, the Doctor learned about his future death and presumably is now plotting some way around this. We learned that the Silence isn’t really a species but a religious movement obsessed with a first question reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. There were further references to The Graduate with the relationship between River and the Doctor. There was even this poster referring to Silence at the school which Amy and Mels attended:

While there are still gaps, we now know much more about River Song’s life:

River was conceived in the Tardis after the Amy and Rory’s wedding, giving a whole new meaning to the episode title, The Big Bang. She was born on Demons Run and then raised in a creepy orphanage in the 1960’s, while being brainwashed to kill the Doctor.  At some point a picture was taken of her with Amy–perhaps we will see a trip to that orphanage sometime later this season to explain it. She escaped (perhaps intentionally allowed to escape) and wound up in New York where she had what was probably not her first regeneration. She wound up becoming a delinquent friend of Amy and Rory, ultimately getting aboard the TARDIS in this episode. After the  regeneration in this episode, River was left  with the Sisters Of The Infinite Schism. Somewhere along the way she has an affair with the Doctor as well as becoming imprisoned for killing him. The episode ended with her going into archeology so she could stalk the Doctor through time. I also bet she winds up assisting the Doctor in staging his death (or maybe the death of a Ganger) so that this fixed point in time can occur with the Doctor remaining alive.

Things also happened on this week’s episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, End of the Road, and we seem to be coming towards a conclusion, but generally things just sort of  happen. We don’t really see the Torchwood team taking the lead in solving the mystery as opposed to grabbing bits and pieces of information over time. Perhaps that will change in the final two episodes. While the previous episode featured Gwen capturing Jack because of her family being held captive, this week’s episode quickly dispensed with the threat. Why didn’t Angelo’s granddaughter simply call Jack (or deliver a message thru Gwen) that Angelo was still alive?

There were some good touches. Newman was exposed as a bad guy and Q arrested him. Oswald Danes was shown as really being creepy, but also likely to receive the punishment he deserves now that he is designated Category 0.  For long-time Torchwood fans, there was a reference to Ianto.

Happy Towel Day

Happy Towel Day, a holiday to celebrate the works of Douglas Adams. As The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy explains:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

SciFi Weekend: Dexter Finale Tonight

This has probably been the best season of Dexter yet thanks to John Lithgow’s portrayal of the Arthur Mitchell and the many twists this season. Twists include finding that, just as the Foundation and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogies wound up having more than three books, the cycle of the Trinity killer contains four rather than three killings. Last week’s key twists including the suicide of Christine after confessing to shooting Lundy and Debra, and the ending in which Mitchell discovers  Dexter’s identity.

Even bigger twists are likely to be present tonight. Julie Benz (Rita) has hinted at a shocking ending. Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall’s wife in real life and sister Debra on the show, has also said that Dexter will never be the same and warns that “maybe all of our trailers won’t be there next year.” She also hinted at changes in an interview with E!

Give it to us straight. How good is the season finale?
I have to give a lot of our fans credit. The stuff that they come up with and the guesses that they make on how it’s going to end are really impressive, but you just can’t top our writers. All the time you put in [episodes] one through 11 watching the show, you’ll be glad that you did in 12. Everybody matters in the end. Everybody matters. We all had to be there to shoot the finale.

How does it set up season five?
At the end of every season, collectively, the writers, the producers, the actors, we all sort of cry, “What are we gonna do next year?” And this season it ended and everybody said, “Well, what can’t we do next year?” I know the mold is sort of breaking and that’s an exciting thing. I think people are kind of getting comfortable sitting in their living rooms with a serial killer, and my hope is to make him more dangerous.

Will Deb find out about Dexter’s mom? It seems like she’s getting close.
They’ve been sort of unraveling that cord for four years now, so I can’t say that anything is finished. That’s sort of the brilliance of the finale and the twisted psyche of our writers. It’s sort of epic and vast, and it all counts. I feel like a lot of viewers are waiting for the big payoff, the big reveal when Deb finds out, but I think it will be more exciting and feel more dangerous if the blanket’s not just ripped off the secret, if it’s slowly discovered. So I guess we’ll all get there someday.

Do you think Deb will ever discover Dexter’s big secret, that he’s a serial killer?
Personally, being a player in this game, I want to see it happen, partly, just because I’m curious. I think I know Deb as well as anyone, and I think they [the writers] would claim to know her just as well, and I’m interested to see if we’re all on the same page about what it would look like. We all throw around ideas just for fun when we’re waiting on-set, or even after when we’re on hiatus and all hanging out as friends we all say, “Well, what if this happened?” and “What if that happened?” And I have real responses to what people say. I get angry about it; I get hurt about it. I get protective of it. So I’m ready to go in any direction that they tell me to move, but I don’t think you can tease an audience the way we have about her getting close to it without giving them the payoff, whatever it is.

Whatever is going to happen tonight, Showtime has taken extreme precautions to avoid it leaking out:

Word is, there will be a turn so unexpected on Sunday that it will change the whole series.

Not surprising, considering this is “Dexter” we’re talking about and the season has been loaded with twists.

A finale that doesn’t trump what’s already gone down would probably be considered a disappointment by fans.

But if the intense measures that Showtime has taken to protect the secrecy of what’s in store are any indication, there’s not much for viewers to worry about.

We’re told non-disclosure agreements were signed by everyone on staff and at the network, decoy scripts were drafted and disseminated, each and every screener was watermarked and sets were closed to anyone that didn’t absolutely have to be around during shooting.

It is quite possible that whatever happens is totally different from the ideas I’ve speculated on during the season. The writers really do seem to be well ahead of the fans. Considering the degree to which Rita has hindered Dexter this season, I wonder if she winds up getting killed by Trinity, or winds up leaving Dexter. Perhaps she’ll discover his secret. The character who is even more likely to figure it out is Debra, perhaps as a consequence of both going after the same killer. In the clip above she has learned a little more about Dexter’s past. In the first novel, which was similar to the first season of Dexter, Debra did wind up learning Dexter’s secret.

The success of this season is largely due to John Lithgow’s portray of Arthur Mitchell, the Trinity killer. There is really no point in even bothering to nominate anyone else this season for best supporting actor in a drama. In the above video, Harry Smith interviewed John Lithgow about playing the role. The video includes a short clip from the finale which gives a clue as to what happens during the confrontation between Dexter and Arthur at the conclusion of last week’s episode.

If Arthur wasn’t creepy enough when seen caring out the murders, he was shown to be even sicker in the scenes with his family. This clip from the finale shows yet another incident between Arthur and his family:Update: I’d been expecting this for several weeks (as I predicted here) and the episode certainly foreshadowed such a development (unless you really believed Dexter was just going to settle down). Showtime certainly had a great night with cliff hangers, both on Dexter and Californication. Both endings should increase interest in next season.

SciFi Friday: Dr. Who, Kristen Bell is Legally Blonde, And Traveling at Warp Speed

I’m afraid tonight might not be a good night for television watching. You might as well watch High School Musical 2 instead of the SciFi Channel tonight. This week’s episode of Doctor Who is 42, which I found to be one of the worst episodes since the series was revived. From my comments after it first aired on the BBC:

Doctor Who returned from a week off with 42, one of the weakest episodes of the revived series. If the story wasn’t bad enough on its own, it repeated many features of last season’s two parter, The Impossible Planet and The Satin Pit, but in a poorer manner. The only good features were that Martha got a key to the Tardis and a phone with the best roaming plan ever. There was also more foreshadowing of the season’s confrontation with Mr. Saxon (who I still predict will turn out to be The Master.)

Prior to the show we thought the title might be a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy.Instead think of 42 as 24 backwards as the show takes place in a boring 42 minutes of real time. Fortunately things turn around quickly. The following two stories (one a two-parter) might be three of the best hours of Doctor Who of all time. After those episodes, the season ends with an excellent three part story (although the conclusion wasn’t totally satisfying). For those who want to keep the season permanently (and didn’t already download it when aired by the BBC) the DVD set will be out on November 6.
Flash Gordon is also on tonight. After seeing last week’s episode, I don’t plan to bother watching this week. There are many longer reviews available on line if anyone wants to waste their time.

Last Saturday featured the second episode of Masters of Science Fiction. It was entertaining, but had some of the flaws of the first episode. Yes, we know nuclear weapons are dangerous and we know to be dangerous of hard line presidents. I think they might do better to move on to other issues. A story about a simpler topic might actually be more effective in a one hour story.

The networks just don’t seem to get the fact that not many people watch television during the summer, especially if they have no idea a show they might be interested in is on. Last week I found, to my surprise, that The Nine was back on and a digital recorder programmed to record the series picked it up. At least it was on Wednesday as opposed to Saturday like Masters of Science Fiction. The Nine also aired the following week and now appears to have been pulled from the schedule. Most likely few watched as those who did enjoy the show didn’t know it was on. ABC now lists it as web only. They did change the manner in which shows are played on line and I was very impressed with the quality. They now make watching television on a computer screen like watching a show on a HD monitor.

The Bourne Ultimatum has more of a political message than the first two movies. Bill O’Reilly called it Un-American and I responded here.


Kristen Bell, formerly Veronica Mars, turned down a part as one of The Others on Lost, saying she did not want to move to Hawaii. Instead she will be starring in the Broadway adaptation of Legally Blonde.

This week’s science news sounds like a lot like science fiction. A pair of German physicists claim to have found a way to break the speed of light, perhaps some day giving us the warp drive. There are interesting consequences:

Being able to travel faster than the speed of light would lead to a wide variety of bizarre consequences.

For instance, an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving.

Traveling great distances and going back in time. Have they invented The Tardis?

Fans of The Matrix (the first movie, not those two awful sequels) might enjoy John Tierney’s column this week. Here’s a portion:

Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.

Some computer experts have projected, based on trends in processing power, that we will have such a computer by the middle of this century, but it doesn’t matter for Dr. Bostrom’s argument whether it takes 50 years or 5 million years. If civilization survived long enough to reach that stage, and if the posthumans were to run lots of simulations for research purposes or entertainment, then the number of virtual ancestors they created would be vastly greater than the number of real ancestors.

There would be no way for any of these ancestors to know for sure whether they were virtual or real, because the sights and feelings they’d experience would be indistinguishable. But since there would be so many more virtual ancestors, any individual could figure that the odds made it nearly certain that he or she was living in a virtual world.

The math and the logic are inexorable once you assume that lots of simulations are being run. But there are a couple of alternative hypotheses, as Dr. Bostrom points out. One is that civilization never attains the technology to run simulations (perhaps because it self-destructs before reaching that stage). The other hypothesis is that posthumans decide not to run the simulations.

Michael Bloomberg: Don’t Panic

Michael Bloomberg didn’t exactly quote the famous advice on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it sure was a refreshing change from the manner in which many Republicans have played politics with terrorist attacks. Bloomberg said, “”There are lots of threats to you in the world. There’s the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can’t sit there and worry about everything. Get a life.”

Appropriate action must be taken to fight terrorism, but I don’t believe that Bloomberg was advising against this when he said the above, as well as noting, “You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist.”

I’m waiting to see which Republicans attack him. If so, it would be quite hypocritical considering all the warnings about terrorism which were ignored by Republicans before 9/11. Republicans didn’t care about terrorism until they found that it worked well for them politically, and even then they engaged in far more talk and scare tactics than effective action. As we see the Republican debate tonight, I’m reminded of John Kerry pushing for more action on homeland security in two of his debates with George Bush, and George Bush saying his recommendations were too expensive.

Classic Science Fiction Novels

There sure are a lot of science fiction geeks in the blogosphere. It looks like I have a little reading to do. This list of classic Science Fiction books is being posted around the blogosphere, with bloggers placing ones they’ve read in bold. I’ve read the majority, and fortunately, should I decide to finish the list, at least seven others are in the piles of books around home that I want to read but never got around to.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
Cities in Flight, James Blish
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

Happy Birthday Douglas Adams

Today is the birthday of Douglas Adams, author of the classic five volume trilogy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I thought I’d celebrate with some quotes from his work:

The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.

He hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.

Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.

It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase ‘As pretty as an Airport’ appear.

There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

(more…)

Conservative Blogs Won’t Let Their Lie Die

Glenn Greenwald is perfectly capable of responding to this absurd attack, but since I quoted his post in question in one of my posts I’ll also comment. The issue was conservative blogs claiming that liberal bloggers were hoping that those who attempted to assassinate Dick Cheney had been successful. The response from myself, Glenn Greenwald, and several other liberal bloggers was to say this charge was absurd, and noted that this is based upon quoting some people who comment on blogs.

Patterico actually helps to prove our case in a rather weak attack directed at Glenn Greenwald. Rather than responding to the actual argument made by Greenwald he quotes him out of context and claims that Greenwald’s argument is that there is absolutely no talk involving any degree of violence from liberal leaders. He then argues with this straw man and ignores what Greenwald actually was arguing.

Even in trying to find any signs of violence in the speech of those on the left Patterico builds a weak case. His first example of “leftist hate” comes from Nina Totenberg saying ” [I]f there is retributive justice [Sen. Jesse Helms] will get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.” His other leftist leaders include people like Alec Baldwin, Spike Lee, and Chris Rock. When he quotes actual politicians he relies on quite old quotations. Trying to bring liberal bloggers into this he quotes Kos’s comments on the contractors who were killed in Iraq, but fails to note that Kos was widely criticized by other liberals for this comment, and his blog was removed from the blog roll of the official Kerry blog in response. He quotes Atrios who is being more humerous than violent by citing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For that matter, few of his quotes approach the level of violence in advocating the assassination of a political figure which is what Greenwald’s post was about.

Patterico fails to give a single example of a liberal leader or blogger who supported the recent attempt on Dick Cheney’s life. Neither Greenwald nor anyone else I’m aware of has ever claimed that there has never, ever been a single case of someone on the left saying something which could be seen as violent. If we are going to look at lines such as Patterico quoted going back over several years, and including some I would hardly consider to be liberal thought leaders, we could find far more in a very brief time in the conservative media.

The argument Greenwald and others of us made still holds. While some writing comments on blogs showed poor taste in cheering on the Taliban, this is not an attitude supported by liberal bloggers or other liberal leaders. Conservative bloggers who launched these dishonest attacks on liberal bloggers would look better if they simply admitted they were wrong rather than trying to keep this issue open by distorting what was said.