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

DoctorWho Flatline

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doctor Who Flatline1

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Doctor Who Extra for Flatline is above.

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

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

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

Still no news on whether Continuum will be renewed.

Episode 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

super-movies

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

Here is an ambitious list from Warner Brothers:

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

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

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

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

Emma-Stone-Cabaret_612x830

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

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

The IT Crowd

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

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

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; You’re The Worst Renewed; Dallas Cancelled; Twin Peaks May Return; Marvel News; Arrow; Homeland; Community; Another Stephen King Novel To Television; Outlander; Short Skirts And Invented Languages In Genre

Doctor Who Kill The Moon

Kill the Moon could be seen both as one of many totally implausible and scientifically absurd episodes of Doctor Who along with another high concept episode with a major role in the series. Even if we accept that the moon could really be a giant egg, it makes no sense for the development of the space dragon to also lead to giving the moon more gravity. Doctor Who also has a strange cell phone technology on several episodes where cell phones seem to be connected to the time and place of their origin, in this case allowing Courtney to post to her Tumblr account (which has died out by 2049).

If you ignore its absurdity, which Doctor Who fans are accustomed to doing, the show does fill in a gap in the future history of mankind as presented on the show. The present earth of Doctor Who sees aliens as monsters and invaders. The far future has been shown with humans spread throughout space. At the time of this episode, mankind has given up on space exploration and even needed to restore an old museum shuttle to return to the moon. Thanks to Clara ignoring the input from humans at the time, earth was able to see space as a wonder and not threatening, encouraging mankind to start to look outwards.

The episode even answered the question raised during the episode of how the moon could be destroyed when they knew it was present in the  future. Now I’m wondering how the moon remained attached to the earth when the earth was dragged to elsewhere in the universe in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.

Dr-Who-Kill-The-Moon-alien1

The episode was originally written for Matt Smith, and must have had major rewrites in order to fit in so well with the story of the current Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi. The decision to go to the moon came about because the Capaldi Doctor couldn’t bring himself to tell Courtney that in some way she is special without actually making this true. The episode ended with Clara rejecting the Doctor, making me wonder if this is part of a planned arc. It certainly fits in with the personality changes in the Doctor since his last regeneration.

This might set up next week’s episode to be one without Clara, or show further advancement in their relationship. The entire lineup of companions is now in question. Danny Pink kept the possibility that Clara isn’t really done with the Doctor alive. Last summer we were teased with the idea of another couple in the TARDIS but Danny has yet to actually travel the the Doctor. Courtney has even beaten Danny in traveling in the TARDIS. If his relationship does not go further, I imagine it is debatable as to whether to consider Danny a (limited) companion. He is certainly involved with a continuing character, he is aware of what the Doctor is, and even did work with the Doctor at defeating an alien (after first messing up his plans) in The Caretaker.

Other continuity issues were touched upon. The doctor claimed he could regenerate forever. Did he really obtain an infinite number of lives, or is the Doctor who could not tell a white lie at the start of the episode now telling a lie? Was he lying when telling Courtney she would be the first woman on the moon? Polly traveled to the moon with the second Doctor in 1966 in Moonbase but it was set in 2070 while Courtney, from 2014, traveled to the moon of 2049. The Doctor could have been lying, could be using a timey wimey technicality, or could have just forgotten. At least he did remember his old catch phrase, “When I say run, run.”

There was not a scene with Missy and any of the astronauts who got killed during this episode.

The Doctor Who Extra video is above.

In other Doctor Who news, filming for the season concluded on October 3 with completion of the Christmas episode.

The best television news of the week is that You’re The Worst has been renewed. It is being moved to FXX and will be expanded to thirteen episodes. Married, which was paired with You’re The Worst, was also renewed and will remain on FX. The renewal and increase in number of episodes of You’re The Worst is no surprise considering the strong critical reaction to the show as people discovered it over the summer. If you haven’t seen it, the show is highly recommended. It would be easy to bing on as with only ten episodes the entire series only around three and a half hours after commercials are cut.

With all the late spring and summer television shows, there are probably several which we haven’t heard news on regarding renewals. In my opinion, the only one which we haven’t received word on yet which really matters is Continuum. Besides wanting to see this for several years to come, they just cannot end the show where it ended. In terms of ending a show with an unexplored change in the final episode, this would be reminiscent to the ending of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

As for shows I don’t care as much about, TNT has canceled their reboot of Dallas. Now we will never find out if Christopher Ewing, who died in the finale, will reappear in Elena’s shower, or if Nicolas is really the father of her baby.

Twin Peaks ended with Special Agent Dale Cooper disappearing for twenty-five years, and now that it is time for him to reappear there are rumors that the show might return. Update:  It was announced Monday that it is coming back as a limited series on Showtime.

mystique-xmen-first-class-jennifer-lawrence

Collider has information on X-Men: Apocalypse which opens in 2016 and concludes the current trilogy. The relationship between Mystique and Beast plays a large role in the movie:

Part of what’s really interesting about Mystique’s character is that she is, in some ways, the child of both Erik and Charles. She grew up with Charles and then she sort of became a woman with Erik, so her being the cross-pollination, if you will, of those two philosophies and those two men is something we can explore in the movie too.

Perhaps Mystique/Jennifer Lawrence will go after whoever  spread the  nude photos of her, without the body paint, around the Internet.

If you are having difficulty keeping track of all the mutants in the X-Men movies, Screen Rant has a guide.

Robert Downey, Jr. has said he will not appear in another Iron Man movie, but now says that Mel Gibson deserves another chance and would do so if Gibson directs it.

Adrianne Palacki, who will be playing Mockingbird on Agents of SHIELD, has said her character might also wind up appearing in a future Avengers movie.

It appears that the Fantastic Four comic might be canceled prior to the release of the upcoming Fantastic Four movie reboot. If true, this comes from the manner in which different Marvel Studios/Disney only have the movie rights to some of the Marvel characters. Other studies have the movie rights to characters including Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, and X-Men as long as they are using the characters. This is one reason for the lack of cross overs of some of the characters with The Avengers, and also why some dreadful movies have been shoved out in order for other studios to maintain their movie rights.

Arrow returns this week–clip above. With Oliver losing the business it looks like everyone has to get new jobs, but Felicity is still helping him out. More at The  Hollywood Reporter.

Homeland returns tonight. TV Guide has some information on changes in the show now that they finally got away from the Brody storyline.

Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) won’t be continuing on Community when it returns on Yahoo! due to having to care for her sick father. She will have recurring roles on th CBS reboot of The Odd Couple and on a new USA Network show, Benched. With Jonathan Banks also leaving the show due to his commitment to Better Call Saul, two new characters will be added: “One is described as a woman who’s brought in as a consultant to help shape up the school. The other is a retired salesman who comes to Greendale to reinvent himself.”

The number of outlets for original programing has sure expanded. Beyond broadcast and cable television, both Netflix and Amazon have put out multiple shows. Yahoo! becomes far more significant with the addition of Community. Now Hulu is planning a miniseries based upon Stephen King’s time travel novel on the Kennedy assassination, 11/22/63. The show will be produced by J.J. Abrams and run for nine hours. This is certainly a far better way to do a book of its length as opposed to a movie adaptation. They have left open the possibility of doing additional seasons beyond the events of the book, which I am wary of after seeing what happened with Under the Dome.

Starz won’t have to worry about running out of material for Outlander if they want to continue the series for several more years. Diana Gabaldon has  signed a multi-million dollar book deal for the ninth book in the series. Thanks to the Starz series, the first Outlander novel from twenty-three years ago has jumped to the top of the bestseller lists.

Zoe Seldana’s short skirt while playing Uhura in the Star Trek movies was not very practical, unless flashing is encouraged in the J.J. Abrams universe. She discussed this problem, and other wardrobe malfunctions.

Wired looked at science fiction worlds and languages, such as the Klingon and Dothraki languages.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Hugo and Emmy Awards; Tony Soprano’s Fate; Next Season on Arrow and Fargo; Finales of Falling Skies, True Blood, Defiance, and The Last Ship; Karen Gillan’s Hair; Rebooting Fox Genre Shows; Libby Masters vs. Betty Draper; American Gods; Jennifer Lawrence, and much more

Doctor-Who--Into-the-Dalek

Peter Capaldi’s second episode of Doctor Who was much better than the first. Into the Dalek was literally about going into a Dalek, Fantastic Voyage style. Once the reference was made, and we saw antibodies within the Dalek (for an unclear reason), I was surprised that Steven Moffat didn’t take the opportunity to recreate the attack of antibodies on Rachel Welch’s body with Jenna Coleman. Despite the Doctor’s strange criticism of Clara’s body at one  point in the episode, Clara did serve an important role as the Doctor’s moral compass, which was disrupted by the shock of seeing a good Dalek. The episode also served as the introduction of the next companion, and romantic interest for Clara, Danny Pink. There is no doubt that Clara and Danny will overcome the Doctor’s newfound objection to having a soldier join him, which certainly contradicts all the time he spent with UNIT.

While I knew the phrase was coming from advanced review, I was surprised by the context in which Resistance is Futile was used by the Dalek. There are certainly many comparisons to be made to the Borg, and I think Doctor Who did a better job than Star Trek The Next Generation with an episode about a good Dalek or Borg. Into the Dalek was a strong stand-alone episode, and now there is no doubt that Missy and “Heaven” will be a recurring storyline for the season. This time, instead of the person who the Doctor was fighting (and possibly pushed to his death), it was someone fighting with the Doctor who was seen in “Heaven.” My suspicion is that this will turn out to be something such as Missy saving people just before imminent death who are in the vicinity of the Doctor as opposed to actual “Heaven,” but even if I am right on this a lot of questions remain.

Doctor Who Extra (video above) gives behind the scenes information on the filming of Into The Dalek.

There have been two major sets of awards in the past couple of weeks, the Hugo Awards and the Emmy Awards. Doctor Who had five nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) but an episode of Game of Thrones won the award:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
  • Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
  • An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)

Gravity won for long form among these nominees:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  • Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
  • Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

The full list of nominees can be found here, with the winners listed here.

While the Emmy Awards generally goes with the safe bet, such as repeatedly giving the award for best comedy to Modern Family, there is at least some realization that genre is ignored. While Tatiana Maslany was snubbed for a second year for her work on Orphan Black, the snub was at least acknowledged in a skit. They finally discovered Sherlock, even if it meant awarding Emmys for the weakest of its three seasons. It was a pleasant surprise to see Steven Moffat up on stage, and he also provided some vague hints about season four in post-award interviews:

Sherlock was a big winner at the 66th Primetime Emmys, taking home three awards (to go with the four the show earned at last week’s Creative Arts ceremony), including trophies for stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

In celebrating his win for writing for a miniseries/movie or dramatic special, executive producer Steven Moffat dropped some hints backstage about the British drama’s anticipated fourth season, which begins production in January 2015 — the same time Doctor Who will also start filming.

Moffat was confident that the new season would be even more gasp-inducing than the previous year, which ended with an unexpected resurrection of a character presumed dead.

“We have a plan to top it — and actually I do think our plan is devastating,” he teased. “We practically reduced our cast to tears by telling them the plan. Honestly, Mark [Gatiss] and myself are so excited with what we’ve got coming up, probably more excited than we’ve ever been about Sherlock. … Honestly I think we can [top the last season].”

Moffat spoke of the surge of Emmy recognition the show has received in its third year.

“We’ve won outside of America, which is a place,” Moffat deadpanned. “We were just starting to think that that phase of our lives was dying down because as shows get older they don’t win as often — just like people. We’re delighted that we’ve made it here and hopefully this gets more people watching. That’d be great.”

He remained mum on when the new episodes would be premiering. “When they go out is up to the BBC,” he said. “And I am their loyal servant. I simply do what they ask me.”

Moffat reassured that the creative team behind the show will continue returning to Sherlock, no matter how busy they may be with other projects. “What’s happening with Sherlock is unusual,” he admitted. “We will keep coming back to it.”

sopranos2

I am thankful to Vox for finally settling in my mind how The Sopranos ended, even if they totally botched the story. When the finale first aired, after I realized that my cable hadn’t gone out, I interpreted it as an intentionally ambiguous ending. Sure, going to black could be what happens to Tony if shot, but I didn’t accept this interpretation as the scene was not from Tony’s perspective. The scene concentrated on many things Tony did not see, from the actions of others in in the coffee shop to Meadow attempting to park the car outside. If I wanted to think that they finished the meal and then Tony showed Meadow how to parallel park, this interpretation was as valid as any other. I saw the real meaning as that Tony would always face threats to his life. One of the people in the coffee shop might have shot him, or he could have been suddenly killed at some other time in the future. There was even a chance he could remain alive despite all the threats.

I was satisfied with this interpretation until I heard a report that David Chase had said that there was a definitive meaning to the finale. Perhaps, as happened again this week, the person reporting put too much meaning into what he said during an interview. However, if there was an answer to the question as to whether Tony Soprano lived in the ending, then I could only see this as meaning I was wrong. If limited to Tony living or dying, I thought it would be easier to making an argument that the ending meant that Tony had died.

Then Vox had an interview with David Chase last week in which it reported that Chase said that Tony had lived. I actually found this to be very unsatisfying as it lacked any further explanation. Soon afterwards, David Chase issued a statement that what he said in the interview was misconstrued:

A statement issued by Mr. Chase’s publicist, Leslee Dart, said that the Vox.com writer “misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview.”

“To simply quote David as saying, ‘Tony Soprano is not dead,’ is inaccurate,” the statement continued. “There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true.”

The statement added that Mr. Chase had said “numerous times on the record” that answering the question of whether “Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.”

“To continue to search for this answer is fruitless,” the statement said. “The final scene of ‘The Sopranos’ raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”

This leaves me comfortable in returning to my original interpretation, more confident than in the past that I’m just not in denial over a scene intended to show Tony Soprano as getting killed.

The new promo for season three of Arrow above will make Oliver/Felicity fans happy. A digital comic will fill the gap between the second and third seasons.

Fargo season two will concentrate on strong women characters.

Falling Skies showrunner David Eick answered questions on the season four finale.

The series finale of True Blood really isn’t worth talking about. It is a shame that they couldn’t put together something more meaningful to end the series with.

The writers on Defiance did try harder. They used a formula which often works in combining elements of a season-long story in each individual stand-alone stories. Unfortunately it didn’t work very well. It just didn’t work for me to have an alien girl being used by a supercomputer intelligence to destroy New York City and the rest of the planet, and then end the crisis by having her kiss a boy who was a minor character during the season. When the show runners previously talked about expanding the show to New York and space I expected something more sensible, and more than a quick scene at the end of the season.

I was more impressed with The Last Ship. While not an A-list, must-see show, they did a good job of keeping the show entertaining. When I heard that they had renewed the show for a second season, my immediate impression was that this would mean they would not find a cure no matter how many episodes gave them a lead. I am glad I was wrong on that. If the first few episodes reminded me of Battlestar Galactica at sea, the return home to a country destroyed by plague now makes me see the show more like Revolution or Jericho (hopefully doing a better job than Revolution). So far there is nothing ground breaking. Who didn’t see the remnants of the Unites States government as being the enemy and realize they were walking into a trap? Still the show does provide solid entertainment.

Last week’s episode made my happy I stuck with The Leftovers. The episode was a flashback which explained key points, such as why a family which did not appear to have lost anyone was affected so much by the rapture-like event.

Karen Gillan filmed the shaving of her hair for Guardians of the Galaxy (video above)

Joe and Anthony Russo will be directing the sixth season premiere of Community. The Russo brothers are also working on Captain America and say the third movie will be more like Winter Soldier than the first installment (which is a good thing).

What Culture gives five reasons Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For was a huge flop.

The video above provides a synopsis of last season of Person of Interest.

I’m not sure why, but Fox plans to reboot The Greatest American Hero. Amazon plans to return Patrick Warburton as The Tick. Fox provides plenty of material for anyone who desires to bring back a genre show canceled on the network. How about Firefly? I also wouldn’t mind seeing what happened after the cliff hanger on the final episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Scribbler includes several genre actresses including Katie Cassidy of Arrow. Trailer above (NSFW–contains nudity)

…it’s a comic book adaptation that stars Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon, Sasha Grey, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Imperioli and Billy Campbell, which is to say director John Suits has compiled an ensemble filled of “been there, done that” names, but they are recognizable names at least.

The film follows Suki (Cassidy), a young woman confronting her destructive mental illness using “The Siamese Burn,” an experimental machine designed to eliminate multiple personalities. The closer Suki comes to being “cured,” she’s haunted by a thought… what if the last unwanted identity turns out to be her?

Speaking of nudity by genre actresses, there has been more interest this week in the nude picture I posted of Jennifer Lawrence last year. That was a picture of her in her role as Mystique which was used as a publicity photo, and distribution of that is far different from hacking her phone or iCloud account, among with pictures of several other actresses, to obtain nude pictures which were privately stored with expectations that they remain private. As Jennifer Lawrence’s spokesperson said, “This is a flagrant violation of privacy.”

Bryan Fuller has ambitious plans for his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Syfy has not renewed the Wil Wheaton Project. No big loss.

Assignment X has an interview with Caitlin FitzGerald, who plays Libby Masters on Masters of Sex. I’ve always been impressed with FitzGerald, who has done a lot of work in indy films. In her role as a late 50’s housewife she faces many of the same problems as Betty Draper on Mad Men. I wonder how much better Betty Draper’s role could have been if cast with someone with FitzGerald’s talent as opposed to January Jones. On the other hand, perhaps a less talented but more beautiful model is exactly who Don Draper would have married.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand provides a model for how the world should be for many libertarians. Wendy McElroy, who has strong libertarian credentials, found that the real world attempt at making Galt’s Gulch hasn’t worked out very well.

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SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Captain America and Agents of SHIELD; The Americans; Orphan Black; Continuum; Captain Janeway and Geocentrism; The Expanse

Hannibal Chilton

 Yakimono provided an excellent start for the second half of this season of Hannibal. The episode answered the question of how they continue for several more episodes between the release of Will Graham from prison and the ultimate revelation that Hannibal Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper. Chilton had an agenda, but his plans did not work out: “Yes, I have an agenda. Living.” We knew after Hannibal winked at Chilton last week that he was doomed, but had no idea how complex his (apparent) death would be, along with the role of Miriam Lass. We found out why Hannibal kept Miriam alive, brainwashing her so that she would identify Chilton as the one who kidnapped her instead of Hannibal, and then shooting Chilton. This should serve to take suspicion away from Hannibal for several episodes.

It did take some foolish decisions by Jack Crawford for this all to play out as it did. Is it really plausible that Chilton had the strength to pull off all these murders, or that after covering his tracks so well would suddenly leave evidence out in plain site? Jack should have believed Will. Things were obviously not as they seemed. It didn’t make sense for Jack to go after Chilton alone if he believed he had really killed the FBI agents left in his home, but at least this didn’t affect the outcome. It was especially foolish for Jack to ignore all the warnings about Hannibal and take Miriam to Hannibal for hypnosis to “recover” her memory. Perhaps Jack will put this all together by the end of the season, or maybe Will will provide additional evidence against Hannibal.

Will remains the only one alive who has any idea what is going on, and decided that he preferred to get all the answers as opposed to killing Hannibal when he had the chance this week. Ultimately he returned to therapy under Hannibal, knowing that Hannibal would be unable to resist this request, and it might provide more information.

Abel Gideon is now dead and it appears that Chilton is also dead, but this is not certain. His death, along with the death of Beverly Katz, represent differences from Red Dragon. After Beverly was last seen cornered by Hannibal, Bryan Fuller did verify that she was dead in interviews, but he is being more vague about Chilton:

AVC: Chilton, correct me if I’m wrong, is the first character from the literature that you’ve killed who’s still alive in later books. Do you feel that shakes things up, or do you worry about not having that character to play later?

BF: [Frank] Serpico survived a bullet to the face.

Fuller explained Will’s motivations:

AVC: This episode ends with Will resuming therapy, and getting out of the hospital. Why did you need to pull him out of the hospital, and what is his thinking behind going back to the devil’s lair?

BF: The idea—and it’ll become much clearer in episode eight where you understand exactly what Will is up to—but it felt like we had completed the arc of the institution. We had Will very actively investigating Hannibal in his own way by not only going interior to his mind, but also using those around him who can be his own avatars out in the world to dig up clues. It felt like because we had completed the arc of the Chesapeake Ripper in some sense, that it was good to exonerate Will, and since he was never convicted of anything, it’s easier to get them out, once proof has been discovered that they’re guilty or innocent. So we wanted Will back out in the world, because we needed to continue to shift the dynamic of what’s happening between Will and Hannibal, and as we end this episode, seven, with “Let’s resume therapy,” we were launching a whole new psychological arc where it is Will and Hannibal. Will now, of clear mind, is beginning his own seduction of Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal has been working very hard to seduce Will, and now, it’s up to Will to seduce Hannibal and perhaps lull him into a false sense of security, so he can ultimately be exposed.

AVC: Why do you think Will doesn’t kill Hannibal when he has the chance?

BF: Because I think he honestly wants to know why. I think there has to be—and I talked with Hugh Dancy about this quite a bit—there has to be an element of honest reality to Will’s fascination with Hannibal Lecter. This man built him up and destroyed him in the first season, and then continued to manipulate him through the first half of the second season. When someone is so invasive to your psyche and has had such an impact, if you ended them, it’s like, Hannibal successfully bonded with Will and had Will bond to him, and it was probably more painful to kill Hannibal, because Will knows that he is started on this journey into a very dark place, and Hannibal Lecter may be the only one who can help him understand it.

He also explained how Hannibal accomplished some of his murders, along with the limitations imposed by a television budget:

AVC: How much do you sit around and figure out how he does all this stuff?

BF: Well, we had a lot of stuff that we cut out that we simply couldn’t afford to produce. The show has a very tight budget, and it’s very streamlined in its storytelling. We had scenes where Hannibal goes down into his basement kill room, where we saw Beverly Katz go, and he goes through a door, and he goes into a steam tunnel, and you see him following that steam tunnel, and he goes down for like miles and miles and miles. So we essentially established a way for Hannibal to get in and out of his house without anybody seeing him and use underground steam tunnels throughout Baltimore to get around the city. We simply couldn’t produce it and couldn’t find the time. In our minds, he goes down in the basement and goes out a secret door into the steam tunnels, and that’s how he got to Chilton’s house, and that’s how he got back into his house without anybody noticing, but we couldn’t produce it, so we lifted that element and have the rationale in our brains, if anybody asks the question—but we just weren’t able to show you.

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Agents of SHIELD is finally becoming the show we wanted it to be. It is never going to be a spy show of the quality of The Americans, and remains behind Arrow in ability to turn a comic book world into successful television, but it has now become important to watch for those interested in the Marvel cinematic universe. Turn, Turn, Turn does a far better job of tying into Captain America: The Winter Soldier than previous episodes did with the attempts to tie into Thor: The Dark World. If you have not seen the episode, this contains major spoilers for both SHIELD and Captain America. If you have not seen either yet, I advise watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier before watching any further episodes of Agents of SHIELD, but if for some reason this is not possible it will still be possible to enjoy the episodes of SHIELD.

It is now apparent that Agents of SHIELD had been limited by the need to wait until the latest Captain America movie came out. The story line about the Clairvoyant was a distraction, with information really coming out due to the infiltration of SHIELD by HYDRA and not due to clairvoyance. It came as no surprise that Agent May was not the spy despite the suggestion of this last week and that instead she was reporting directly to Director Fury. The development of Coulson’s entire team makes more sense after learning it was based upon having the ability to repair, or if necessary kill, Coulson should there be problems after bringing him back to life with the alien blood.

The biggest surprise was to find that Agent Ward was working with Agent Garrett (Bill Paxton) and HYDRA. Considering what a boring character he has been so far, this can be a welcome change in the show. Of course it is possible that the shooting of Hand and others was all staged with a gun shooting blanks and fake blood so that Garrett would trust Ward, allowing Ward to infiltrate HYDRA. Otherwise it seemed strange for Hand to tell Ward to kill Garrett when he was already in custody, and we already have two major characters who have come back from death or apparent certain death. This preview from next week’s episode portrays Ward as the villain, but again we don’t know if this is real or if he is faking to infiltrate HYDRA.

As we have a long time to wait for further movies, Agents of SHIELD can now provide a look into the Marvel universe. Will SHIELD rebuild as a major organization or will they just be fighting to survive and later get revenge against HYDRA? Presumably the show will set up the plans for what is desired for SHIELD in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the next Captain America movie.

Captain America ended with Maria Hill applying for a job at Stark Industries and Cobie Smulders will be reprising this role on an upcoming episode. Samuel L. Jackson will also be appearing in the season finale. With Maria Hill working for Tony Stark and Nick Fury in hiding after faking his death, these episodes may or may not pertain directly to SHIELD, but should give some clue as to where they are going.

Besides the obvious tie-in to Agents of SHIELD, James Gunn, writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy, has confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that Guardians of the Galaxy will tie into The Avengers 3.

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The Americans tied into the early development of the Internet on Arpanet. Elizabeth and Phillip concentrated on placing a rather large bug on Arpnet for the Russians. The subplot with children concentrated on Henry instead of Paige. I hope that Elizabeth and Phillip are proud of how he is developing an interest in spying on neighbors.

The storyline with Nina, Stan and Oleg overshadowed the usual main storyline with Elizabeth and Philip this week. The entire storyline with Oleg has turned out different from how it first appeared. Instead of working on his own, it turned out that his actions were planned with the KGB, and the initial fears that he presented to threat to Nina were probably a false alarm.

Nina had no difficulty fooling the polygraph thanks to coaching from Oleg. The Americans effectively leaves open questions in episodes and then often answers them with revelations of further information in subsequent episodes. The final scene with Oleg and Nina in bed together raises questions as to whether this was a new development, perhaps due to Nina’s gratitude for Oleg’s help, or if this had been occurring off screen for a longer period. In retrospect, Oleg’s coaching of Nina, including about squeezing her anus and imagining him in the room, might suggest a closer relationship between the two at the time.

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I have concentrated on coverage of Hannibal and The Americans since each started its second season this winter as these are two of the best shows on television. A third show of this caliber, Orphan Black, returns for its second season on April 19. Entertainment Weekly spoke with Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett about some of the new characters for the second season, and the fate of one of the characters from the first season:

EW: Obviously one of the big cliffhangers from season 1 was Cosima’s illness. What can you say about that?
FAWCETT: Cosima’s illness is a major, major storyline in season 2. It’s something that is life or death for Cosima and then for everyone else. When someone is sick, it really kind of brings people together. I think that’s what we see from this. Now, Delphine and Cosima are in love, but Delphine’s kind of trapped in the middle. She does some bad things. But she does good things. She’s in love, but she’s still doing bad things. And trying to discover if there is a cure for Cosima is a big plot issue with season 2. And it’s something that carries through from episode to episode — this journey to try to find some sort of way to cure her.

There are also other excellent shows which I don’t discuss as often here. I am reluctant to speculate on Game of Thrones as those who have read the novels have such a tremendous advantage. It is also so much work trying to keep up with the names of all the characters. This chart might help. Person of Interest does not have as large a cast, but it is another genre show which is adding an increasing number of characters while gradually revealing more details about their back stories.  This character relationship chart might help keep track of all of them.

Continuum is another excellent science fiction show, but it is harder to review here since I’m watching it a few weeks ahead of most in the United States by downloading from Showcase. Minute Man, the second episode which aired in the United States this week, showed how Kiera became a CPS agent. While I will avoid being specific to avoid spoilers, future episodes to air provide more information about Kiera’s background and beliefs, some of which might be seen as positive and some negative considering her support for the future system.

Janeway

Kate Mulgrew, Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager (as well as Red on Orange is the New Black), did voice over work for a “documentary” which claims that the earth is the center of the universe. Lawrence Krauss had already been tricked into participating. Kate Mulgrew explained on her Facebook page:

I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called THE PRINCIPLE. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused. Kate Mulgrew

Mulgrew’s work on a project claiming that the earth is the center of the universe led to inevitable jokes as to this explaining why Voyager was lost for seven seasons, but the real joke is the perversion of science coming from the right wing, adding geocentrism to creationism.

Filming for The Fall season 2 finally began this month. Colin Morgan, who previously starred in Merlin, joins the cast. This is a high quality mini-series well worth watching.

Syfy has had a hard time coming up with a major science fiction show since Battlestar Galactica ended. Defiance looked more interesting in its first season finale, but still is limited in scope. They are now looking into doing a series based upon The Expanse novels which does sound really promising.

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SciFi Weekend: Black Widow; Arrow; Continuum; House of Cards; Fantastic Four; Hannibal; Man From UNCLE; The Americans; Two More US Remakes Of British Shows; Karen Gillan; If Ikea Sold A TARDIS

Black Widow

Variety reports that Black Widow will continue to have a major role in upcoming Marvel movies and then Scarlett Johansson will star in her own stand-alone movie:

According to Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, Black Widow’s storyline in “The Winter Soldier” revolves around “her coming to terms with her history, that she’s been a spy, and spies aren’t necessarily trustworthy,” he told Total Film.

That will be further explored in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” out in 2015. Film starts production in March.

“(Black) Widow’s part in that is very big,” Feige said. “We learn more about her past and learn more about where she came from and how she became in that film. The notion of exploring that even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that. When we meet the Avengers at the top of ‘Age of Ultron,’ it’s a very different landscape than we left them at the end of the first film. Partially, that’s because we love the rhythm that the comicbooks have developed — each of the characters appear in their runs, occasionally they get together for a big event or crossover series, they part again, and then they come back together again.”

It’s unclear whether Marvel hopes to have a Black Widow movie become part of its third phase of films, which so far includes “Ant-Man,” “Doctor Strange” and the third installments of “The Avengers” and “Captain America.”

Phase two includes “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Bringing Sarah into Team Arrow raises questions as to Felicity’s role. That is answered with a Felicity-centered episode. Preview above. More about Arrow here.

After Arrow, I’m far more willing to take a show on CW seriously. They have ordered  pilots from the creators of Sleepy Hollow and Veronica Mars:

The CW has given pilot orders to dramas Identity, from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Jane the Virgin, from Jennie Snyder Urman, and iZombie from Rob Thomas, TVGuide.com has learned.

In Identity, when a young woman in need of a transplant learns she is related to a powerful family whose son is her only hope for a donor organ, the CIA approaches her to investigate the family’s involvement in domestic terrorism and to infiltrate their rarified world.  Her loyalty, morality and ethics are tested as she’s forced to slowly build a case against the family who saved her life. Sleepy Hollow‘s Kurtzman and Orci will executive-produce with The Good Wife‘s Corinne Brinkerhoff, who will also write. Heather Kadin, Rob Golenberg and Alon Aranya are also attached as executive producers…

Based on DC Comics’ series, iZombie is a supernatural crime procedural about a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to obtain the brains she must eat to maintain her humanity. However, with every brain she consumes, she also inherits the corpse’s memories. In order to silence those disturbing voices in her head, she solves homicide cases along with her medical examiner boss and a police detective. Veronica Mars‘ Thomas and Diane Ruggiero will write and executive-produce with Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge.

Showcase has released another trailer for the third season of Continuum. It returns on  March 16  or you can wait until April 4 and see cut episodes on SyFy. Guess which version I plan to watch.

If you haven’t seen the first episode of season two of House of Cards yet, you just better get off the Internet if you don’t want to see spoilers. It turns out that the shocking event from the first episode was planned from the start with a similar event in the season finale of the first season of the U.K. version. How realistic is the show? A star such as Robin Wright may or may not know very much about actual political life, but it is easy to have their opinion covered by being a bit titillating:

During a Q&A in the upcoming issue of Capitol File magazine, a reporter asked whether Wright’s White House source thought the fictional events depicted in the Netflix series were close to the mark.

“Did she think reporters sleeping with sources and members of Congress was factual?” the reporter asked.

“Oh, yeah,” the actress replied. “D.C. is more corrupt than Hollywood. It really is. It’s more sleazy than Hollywood… how much infidelity goes on.”

Kate Mara might soon become better known for another genre role. The cast has been announced for the Fantastic Four reboot, with Mara playing Sue Storm. Think how House of Cards might have turned out differently if Zoe Barnes also had Sue Storm’s power to turn invisible.

Orange Is The New Black returns on Netflix on June 6. No relation to Black Widow, Black Canary, or Orphan Black.

Hannibal returns on February 28, with the first season available to binge on Netflix and Amazon. Here is some more information on  the second season.

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Open Channel D. The Man From UNCLE movie opens on January 16, 2015. The movie stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant and Luca Calvani. One of the key things I remember from the original show was the use of cigarette cases and pens as communication devices. Is there any point in this with smart phones? But if these are not used, will the movie really feel like UNCLE? It might be fun to go back and look at some of the old episodes to see how they stand up today. My guess is that they would be better than SHIELD.

Actually Agents of SHIELD has improved. They did try experimenting with storytelling a little in the last episode, TRACKS, telling the same story from the perspective of different characters. I also enjoyed seeing a train heist as it reminded me of one of the first Joss Whedon shows I had ever seen, The Train Job episode of Firefly. (Yes, I have never seen Buffy). The episode ended with a cliff hanger but I doubt Skye is really dead considering how they appear in the midst of developing her back story. Besides, people on comic-based shows are rarely ever dead. A clue to this is that the next episode when SHIELD returns from hiatus will be entitled  TAHITI. Bill Paxton will be joining to assist in saving Skye.

Producer Joel Fields answered questions about the second season of The Americans, which returns this week. One of my favorite moments from the first season was when Reagan was shot and the Russians saw it as a coupe attempt by Alexander (“I am in control here”) Haig. Fields was asked if any real life events will be included in the second season:

Season two will begin in early 1982 and, as our show was last season, it will be informed – but not shaped – by real life events. Philip and Elizabeth will deal with threats ranging from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the covert American assistance taking place in Nicaragua, and everything they do will happen under the specter of constant brinkmanship that was a hallmark of US-Soviet relations at that time.

Last year it was discovered that Robert Galbraith was really a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. She has a second novel about Cormoran Strike coming out on June 19. With character names such as Cormoran Strike, we should have guessed who the author was.

Joel McHale of Community will be hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner on May 3.

Broadchurch US

The first pictures have been released from filming of Gracepoint, the US remake of Broadchurch. David Tennant reprises his staring role from the ITV version, along with Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad.

An American adaptation of Utopia is being planned by HBO and is to be written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

Both Broadchurch and Utopia have completed their first season in the U.K. and will be returning for a second season. The first season of each was excellent, but as accustomed as I have become to downloading shows from the U.K. I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just show the original versions here. Yes, there are references which Americans might not understand, and David Tennant’s accent was a bit thick in the ITV version, but I think American audiences can cope. Look how popular Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife are becoming here without need to remake them for American audiences.

The above trailer has been released for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen-Gillan-Joins-Selfie-Comedy

Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan has been cast in an American sit-com, Selfie:

The actress, who next appears in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Oculus, has been tapped to star in ABC’s Emily Kapnek comedy Selfie, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The modern take on My Fair Lady is inspired by the musical and tells the story of a self-obsessed 20-something woman named Eliza Dooley (Gillan) who is more concerned with “likes” than being liked. After suffering a public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media “followers” than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She then enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.

The casting marks the Scotland native’s return to TV following Doctor Who – where she played the Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond, for more than 30 episodes on the show’s fifth through seventh seasons — and Adult Swim’s NTSF: SD: SUV

No word as to whether Karen Gillan will be doing any nude writing or baking as in  Not Another Happy Ending.

I’ve seen a number of posts about people building their own TARDIS. With so much interest, it is only a matter of time until Ikea comes up with a kit. This is what the experience might be like:

TARDIS Ikea

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SciFi Weekend: The TARDIS on Google Maps; Arrow Introducing More DC Characters; Iron Man 3; Under The Dome; True Blood; Homeland; Orange Is The New Black; Orphan Black; Thor; Elementary; The Newsroom; Interstellar; Star Trek Predicting The Future Since 1966

TARDIS in on Google Maps

If you check out street view on Google Maps at Earlham Green, Greater London Nr5 8DQ, United Kingdom you will see a blue police call box on the left side of the street. Place the mouse near it and then click on the double lines which will appear. This will allow you to enter the TARDIS. You will find that it is smaller on the outside than on the inside. Once inside you will be able to move around the control room. Unfortunately you cannot go further inside the TARDIS but I assume Google Maps will be working on extending their coverage of interior spaces.

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Arrow show runner Mark Guggenheim discussed introducing The Flash on Arrow:

“I feel like I’m just following Bilson and DeMeo. Whatever they do, I seem to follow in their footsteps,” Guggenheim laughed. The writer told CBR that from comics to TV, the goal of the “Arrow” production team is to expand out the DC Universe while keeping the tone and feel of their show its own unique story platform.

“Honestly, I’m just excited to help be a part of expanding the DC Universe,” he said. “I think one of the big thing that appeals to me about comics in general is the idea of the shared universe. It’s a lot of fun to be able to do that in television, and growing up one of the things I enjoyed was the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ and ‘The Bionic Woman’ and the way those two shows would interact with each other. We’re at least a season away from ‘Arrow’ interacting with ‘The Flash,” but the potential for that is really exciting for me.”

Kreisberg, who serves as Guggenheim’s show running partner on “Arrow,” will develop Barry Allen’s character in writing each of those three episodes this season on “Arrow,” and Guggenheim said that is all part of a masterplan that stretches back before their recent run of announcements. “Andrew is taking the lead on ‘The Flash.’ This has been in the works for a while and had been in the works since before Comic-Con. But we made the decision, as these things are announced in a rollout, to take a strategy where we’d announce Black Canary, Bronze Tiger and Brother Blood at Comic-Con. We felt like, ‘That’s a lot for Comic-Con. Let’s save something back for when T.C.A. comes around.’ I want to disabuse anyone of the notion that we decided to do Flash after Comic-Con. We’re just capable of keeping secrets every now and again.”

And overall, the writer wanted to stress that an additional superhero – and one with some more super powers – won’t change the core of what “Arrow” is. In fact, Guggenheim leaned on a comparison with DC’s main competitor to explain how each series will develop over time. “I think a lot of people are justified in asking ‘What does this mean for Arrow in terms of its tone?’ And my answer is that the trick that we have – and this is a challenge we’ve discusses a lot and have an awareness of how to face it head on – is the fact that ‘Arrow’ is like ‘Iron Man’ where ‘The Flash’ will be ‘The Hulk.’ And just as ‘The Hulk’ coming out did not change the tone of the Iron Man movies, ‘The Flash’ will not change the tone of ‘Arrow.’ We’re very cognizant of what ‘Arrow’ is all about, and I think the Marvel movies demonstrate that each piece of a universe can have its own feel. ‘Thor’ is consistent with the tone of Thor while ‘Captain America’ is consistent with the tone of Captain America’s character. ‘Arrow’s’ tone will remain consistent much in the same way, and we are looking forward to expanding our canvass a bit. And judging from the announcement, I think the fans are looking forward to it as well.”

While Barry Allen will be on Arrow for a few episodes, he will not have his superpowers, at least not at the start.  Despite not having true superpowers, Arrow does feel like a superhero show, including having the common problem of the hero being just too powerful. I just watched the first season of the show over the past week and found it to be entertaining as long as you ignore the multiple implausible aspects. On Arrow, a person with bow and arrows can easily defeat multiple people with guns. This includes not only Oliver Queen, but two other characters who use the same weapon. Oliver Queen does have fighting skills beyond this weapon. He also has an amazing ability to disappear. Typically when he is surrounded inside a closed area and anyone else would be captured, he gets away with no difficulty or even on-screen explanation. Arrow is not up to the quality of the most impressive new genre shows of the season on regular cable and broadcast television ( such as The Americans, Orphan Black, and Hannibal) but still worth watching.

There were aspects of the writing style of Arrow which makes me confident they will do a good job of gradually introducing characters. Rather than quickly giving an origin and then moving on to the main story, Arrow had flashbacks over the entire season to the island where Oliver Queen was stranded for five years and learned his skills. Rather than immediately introduce the sidekick and those who knew his secret identity, characters were gradually brought into Oliver Queen’s inner circle.

There are also a couple of reasons for Doctor Who fans to watch. John Barrowman is a recurring character all season and Alex Kingston was on a few episodes. I was hoping for the two to interact but that did not occur. Incidentally, most Barrowman fans probably know that Torchwood is an anagram with the same letters as Doctor Who. By coincidence, the name of the television show he appeared in last season is also in Barrowman’s name.

More on crossover characters from other DC comics here.

The Mandarin appears in this deleted scene from Iron Man 3.

I’m glad to see Under the Dome turn more to the mystery of the dome, not that I’m all that confident of a satisfactory resolution. Apparently when they say “the monarch will be crowned” they are speaking of an actual monarch within the small dome. I have read that one of the major differences between recent episodes and the book has been that Big Jim and Junior work together in the book. Last week’s episode may signal a reconciliation between the two.

Last week’s episode of True Blood contained the battle which we might have expected for the season finale. There are still questions. Will Sookie keep her promise to become Warlow’s vampire bride? (I bet she does not). Is the war between humans and vampires now over, or just beginning? Will those vampires who indirectly fed on ferry blood continue to be able to be out in daylight? Is Bill now returning to his normal self? Considering how poor recent seasons of the show had become, it is a good sign that, despite some ongoing problems, the show is now able to maintain interest in such questions.

Homeland writers revealed information on their plans during season two. I’ve been questioning since the end of season one how long they could plausibly continue to have Brody around. The writers may have been thinking the same thing:

Though the show’s creators already copped to plotting an untimely end for Lewis’ character way back in season one, that is until more merciful voices at Showtime prevailed, Gordon admitted that, going into season two, the writers intended to send Brody to the chopping block yet again, and were once more persuaded otherwise by the network.  “We had sketched out this plan in the early parts of season two which called for Brody’s demise, which may have been premature, and they asked us to reconsider,” which Gordon credits as “the happy accident of having very good partners.”

If it seemed like a sudden reversal for Carrie to have decided not to leave the country with Brody, it was also a reversal of the writers’ plans:

According to Steihm, who has since left Homeland to run FX drama The Bridge, the writers all wanted Carrie (Claire Danes) to go with Brody across the border in the season two finale instead of returning to the CIA.  In fact, in the first draft, she did. After much debate, they ultimately decided it was more in character for Carrie to stay and carry out her mission with the Agency after helping Brody escape safely to an underground network.

Besides being a great show, Orange Is The New Black has supported science over religious fundamentalism, such as in the scene above with partial transcript below:

Piper: I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t, and I don’t [believe in this]… I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit he could be kind of an asshole. I cannot get behind some Supreme Being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked by machetes. I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell. I don’t think that we get cancer to learn life lessons. And I don’t believe people die young because God needs another angel. I think it’s just bullshit. And on some level, I think we all know that.

There are a number of reports, along with a denial, that Laura Prepon will be leaving Orange is The New Black to work on a new show. If true, this would leave a major hole in the show. The reports claiming this do say that Prepon will still be present at the start of the season to tie up Alex’s storyline and she will be written out in a way which would allow her to return.

Orphan Is The New Black

Two  of the top television shows premiering in 2013, Orphan Black and Orange Is The New Black, have been combined in this mash-up giving us Orphan Is The New Black.

Natalie Portman expects there to be a Thor 3.

Fake Sherlock will be going to England in their opening episode. Maybe they will meet the “real” Holmes and Watson of Sherlock. (Ok, probably not). More news on the second season of Elementary here.

We expect The Newsroom to mix in major news stories with each episode. Last week they included plot elements reminiscent of other real events from The Today Show botching the editing on George Zimmerman’s 911 tape to the real life release of nude photos from Oliva Munn’s phone. The manner in which World Net Daily reported a rumor without any fact checking also is based on reality, along with being an excellent commentary on the unreliability of WND and the entire right wing noise machine.

Filming has begun on Christopher Nolan’s latest science fiction project, Interstellar.

William Shatner joins those arguing that Star Trek belongs on television in this interview:

Karl Urban, from the new Star Trek films said that “Star Trek, as envisioned, was about space exploration. And it would be really wonderful to harness the spirit of that and apply it to the next film”. Is that something that you would like to see? A greater focus on discovery in these films.

Shatner: I’m not goona second guess JJ Abrams, he’s a great director and he’s so talented. But I’ll tell you that I am going to the Lowell Observatory in a couple of weeks to deliver a speech that I wrote about Star Trek and its capacity to stir the imaginations of young people.

The idea is, that so many people’s lives have been touched by the imagination of Star Trek and children’s imaginations are so vital to the rest of their lives that… this is an aspect of Star Trek that I’m focused on.

Now let me ask you, trying to bring in new viewers, new younger viewers to expose that world to young kids and teenagers alike and really spur that imagination — is a TV show a more viable vehicle for that? Is it sad that we don’t have something like that right now, a Star Trek TV show that could really seize on the exploration part of the thing that the original series and Next Generation, that those things did?

Shatner: You know, I think you’re right. Because, JJ Abrams has found the key to getting a large audience into the movie theater, and that’s the ride. So you get a lot of the CGI effects, which is the epic movie making aspect of today, whereas in Cecile B. Demille’s time, you had to use real people. Now you don’t need to use real people and you can have infinity for God’s sake.

That’s in order to get you into the theater, because the majesty of the movie is shown by the large screen. But when you get into the small screen, you need stories… entertaining, interesting, vital stories that have a philosophy and also have an excitement about them, so that the viewer stays with it, but recieves the philosophy as a byproduct. Those were the best of Star Trek, those kinds of stories. And that kind of thing, there is always room for that. That kind of imaginative approach that stirs young people into wanting to be connected with science.

Star Trek Science

Via Techeblog

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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: Hannibal Finale; Matt Smith Says Good By; Marvel Movies; Veronica Mars; True Blood Sex Scenes; James Gandolfini; Disney Princesses and the Doctor

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Those who haven’t watched Hannibal may want to skip down below as there are some major spoilers here. The first season of Hannibal ended with a scene which was sort of a reverse image from Silence of the Lambs with Will in the prison for the criminally insane. Looking back, this ending seemed almost inevitable, but I am glad we didn’t actually see Abigail’s death. As for Will, it appears that having been framed for her murder is a problem which will not be resolved quickly. Bryan Fuller gave some hints as to where next season will go:

Jack conveniently comes in after Will accuses Hannibal of all the murders. Would Jack have been swayed if he had heard Will’s thoughts?
Fuller: In Season 2, Jack will be investigating those accusations. I think after Will woke up from getting shot by Jack and before he was put into the institution, he shared his theories about Hannibal. Now it’s up to those characters and Hannibal Lecter to either support or deny those accusations in a properly investigated way.

Do you intend to keep Will locked up for a while?
Fuller:
He will be incarcerated, and we will be dealing with all of the threads of that. We need to see all of the things happen that would happen in that scenario. Will Graham needs to go on trial for the murders that he may or may not have committed. Jack has to be brought before a review board for his participation in what happened to Will, and Hannibal, as Will’s psychiatrist, is going to continue to try to help Will see the truth that Hannibal wants him to see. The ball is up in the air in so many ways for Jack and Hannibal and Will. The fun of Season 2 will be spiking those balls…

From the beginning, you made it clear you were telling your own story, but do you fear that this choice will alienate some of the diehard Red Dragon fans?
Fuller:
If you look at the scant two pages that talk about Will Graham’s back story, they tell us that Will was so psychologically compromised from investigating the Minnesota Shrike that he had to become institutionalized. So, I feel like I’ve got a car jack and I’ve wedged it in between those lines. I’ve just opened them up for room to tell more between the lines than what you may have anticipated. But we’re also sticking to the canon. We will deliver what we’ve come to expect in Red Dragon of Will Graham, but he’ll just have a longer, harder journey to get there. I gave myself room to wiggle, so we’re going to see some wiggling in the next two seasons.

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Bryan Fuller revealed his seven year plan for Hannibal, getting into the novels by season four. Beware, this contains spoilers for the books as well as future seasons.

AX: How many seasons do you have plotted?

FULLER: I can see pretty clearly seven seasons. I think that there are always shifts and alterations and course corrections that you have to take, because you’ll be cruising along and then you’ll hit an idea and go, “Oh, wow, that’s a great idea, we have to do that now.” That being said, I can see the structure for a seven-season arc for the show, but then I also am very open to course corrections along the way to adapt to changes.

AX: If you don’t get to run for seven seasons, are you going to make available to the public in some form what the unaired seasons would have been?

FULLER: Well, when you get into Season Four, you get into the literature. And so Season Four would be RED DRAGON, Season Five would be the SILENCE OF THE LAMBS era, Season Six would be the HANNIBAL era, and then Season Seven would be a resolve to the ending of that book. HANNIBAL ends on a cliffhanger. Hannibal Lecter has bonded with Clarice Starling and brainwashed her and they are now quasi-lovers and off as fugitives, and so that’s a cliffhanger. It might be interesting to resolve that in some way and to bring Will Graham back into the picture. So once we get two more seasons, say, of the television show, those are the aren’t-novelized stories, and then we would get into expansions of the novels after that and kind of using the novels as a backbone for season arcs that would then be kind of enhanced.

AX: Assuming you cover the eras of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL, when Will Graham isn’t a character in the books, what do you do with Hugh Dancy for those two seasons?

FULLER: Well, it would be about incorporating him in a way that he hasn’t been incorporated in the books, because Will Graham was only mentioned in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, he was not seen, and so I would be curious to see what happens to Will Graham after RED DRAGON. By the time of RED DRAGON, he’s married to Molly and has her son from a previous marriage, but doesn’t have any children of his own. And then that relationship is more complicated by Francis Dolarhyde and there were suggestions that there was a not-so-happy ending for Will Graham after RED DRAGON because he has his face carved up and you wonder what’s going to happen to Will now, and I’m curious to see what happens to Will after that.

More from Fuller here.

Matt Smith says thank you in the video above. Interested in tea at the Ritz with him? Check it out here.

Jenna-Louise Coleman will be appearing in Death Comes To Pemberley:

Last month, BBC One set Matthew Rhys to play Mr. Darcy in Death Comes To Pemberley, the three-part serial based on P.D. James’ suspense novel which revisits Jane Austen’s most iconic characters. A vast lineup of British TV talent has now been added to the cast, including Doctor Who star Jenna-Louise Coleman as Lydia Wickham, the sister of Austen’s Pride And Prejudice heroine Elizabeth Bennett. As previously announced, Anna Maxwell Martin is playing Bennett and Matthew Goode is George Wickham, Lydia’s husband. The story picks up six years into Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage as they prepare for their annual ball. When Lydia arrives, she brings a shocking halt to the proceedings and a murder investigation unfolds.

It looks like there may be no truth to the rumors reported last week of finds of more lost episodes of Doctor Who. They are being described as destroyed rather than lost, which doesn’t sound very encouraging.

Joss Whedon says Loki won’t be appearing in The Avengers 2. More importantly, Robert Downey, Jr. will be back for The Avengers 2 and 3. Like we really thought there was any chance they would do it without Tony Stark, or anyone else could replace him. At present chances don’t look good for another Iron Man movie. More Marvel movie news here.

Shailene Woodley’s role as Mary Jane Watson has been cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and MJ won’t appear until the third film. Maybe this means that the rumors that Gwen doesn’t get killed off in the second movie are true.

Veronica Mars

Filming on the Veronica Mars movie has begun. I’m looking forward to getting my digital copy when the movie opens due to contributing to the Kickstart campaign.

Secrets of True Blood sex scenes here.

Dan Harmon didn’t like season 4 of Community any more than we did.

Sopranos Diner

The scene went to black for James Gandolfini in the past week. It looks like he was way too busy to die. Here’s a list of his unfinished work. Apparently the Grim Reaper isn’t a fan. Some of Tony Soprano’s best quotes can be found here.

Last week we looked at the combination of Disney and Marvel characters. This week we’ll look back at prints by Karen Hallion combining Doctor Who and Disney princesses and other stories. (More here). Incidentally, Disney recently had a coronation for their eleventh princess. Eleven Disney princesses. Eleven Doctors. Sounds suspicious to me. Glenn Beck has devised elaborate conspiracy theories based upon less.

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SciFi Weekend: The Name of the Doctor and Star Trek Into Darkness

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This was a weekend steeped in tradition with the two oldest science fiction franchises both having a major event. The season of Doctor Who concluded with The Name of The Doctor, which leads directly into the 50th anniversary episode, and a new Star Trek movie was released. As usual, the review of Doctor Who contains spoilers but it is posted a day after the episode aired.  Fortunately those who received the episode early in error kept quiet. Movies are harder to deal with as people view them at different times. There are also major spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness, many of which have been revealed in other reviews.

After a season of near-misses, especially in the second half, Moffat really delivered with The Name of the Doctor. The episode dealt with the entire history of the Doctor and events in recent episodes were important in making the episode work. Now that we have seen where Moffat was headed, the season as a whole looks much better as a long story arc in retrospect, even if each chapter was not perfect. Obviously Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen were necessary to see Clara die while saving the Doctor.  It was important to show Vastra, Jennie, and Strax as friends of the Doctor in The Snowmen and The Crimson Horror to believe the Doctor would take such a great risk to try to save them. It was part of her story for Clara to learn of her significance and then lose the memory in  Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS.

The introductory sequence might be the best ever seen on Doctor Who. It begins on Gallifrey with the question, “What kind of idiot would try to steal a faulty TARDIS?” Clara appears telling the first Doctor, accompanied by Susan, “Doctor, sorry, but you’re about to make a big mistake.”  The episode also includes glimpses of the other Doctors. There was the return of The Great Intelligence along with a new monster, The Whispermen.

Clara Letter

The story initially centers around leading the Doctor to Trenzalore, including a clever way to have Vastra, Jenna, Strax, Clara, and River Pond communicate over time. “Time travel has always been possible in dreams” makes no sense, but is accepted to propel the story.

We already knew that Trenazlore was connected to the fall of the eleventh, but it also turns out to be the site of the Doctor’s tomb and apparently the fall of Doctors beyond the eleventh. As the TARDIS resisted taking the Doctor to this one place in the universe where he should never go, there was also a literal fall to the surface.

We saw both what happens to a TARDIS and to a Time Lord following their death. The Doctor’s real name was necessary to open his tomb, but was spoken by River Song without the viewer hearing it. It was no surprise that we did not learn the name and the title of the episode was mild misdirection on Moffat’s part. Moffat also deceived us in other interviews about the episode, but Moffat’s lies are always forgiven when he delivers a great show. A character did die, but was also restored to life. Or perhaps he was referring to River Song. The episode appears intended to her final meeting with the Doctor, but does not prevent her from returning, especially from an earlier point in her time line. The very nature of her appearance in this episode raises questions which may or may not be answered beyond the simple explanations provided.

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The claim that this would be a season of stand alone episodes was also not completely true. Besides the finale being largely a chapter in a story which must include prior episodes of this season, The Name of the Doctor ends on a cliff hanger.

By the end we did learn both the explanation for Clara Oswald and the Doctor’s greatest secret. Nobody would have figured out Clara’s explanation without the events of The Name of the Doctor as she was fragmented over time after entering the Doctor’s time stream. I do have a couple of nitpicks with what we learned here.

Echoes of Clara were with the Doctor throughout his life, often saving him from the changes to the Doctor’s time stream created by The Great Intelligence. When Clara told the Doctor he was making a mistake when first stealing a TARDIS, the mistake was merely in the TARDIS he planned to take and she directed him to another in which “the navigation system’s knackered” and he will have more fun.  This conflicts with The Doctor’s Wife in which it was the TARDIS who influenced the Doctor to steal her. The scene would have worked better if the Doctor went on to take the TARDIS he first tried to steal despite Clara’s warning. This would have also provided an explanation for the TARDIS disliking Clara earlier in the season. Maybe this was even intended and it is just not clear that he ignored Clara’s advice but I do believe he took the one which Clara recommended.

Clara Time Stream

My other complaint is that Clara spoke of seeing all eleven  Doctors, but if this was the remnant of his entire time stream after he died she should have seen versions of the Doctor beyond the eleventh. They could have shown glimpses of others without faces and refrain from having Clara specify eleven. Ultimately one other version is shown with a contradiction present. He is presented as a version which does not deserve to be the Doctor for his actions but the episode ends with the caption, “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor.”

We have until November 23 to find out what this means. There was mention of the Valeyard, the evil version of the Doctor from between the twelfth and final regeneration, during the episode, yet more evidence of Moffat’s respect for the entire history of the show. While John Hurt could be playing him, interviews so far suggest he is a regeneration from between the eighth and ninth Doctors (added when Christoper Eccleston declined to appear in the 50th anniversary episode). He is apparently the Doctor’s greatest secret for what he did. So far we only know that “broke the promise” which comes from choosing the name of the Doctor. This might be referring to actions during the Time Wars, or perhaps to events we are not yet aware of.

However this ends, Moffat has given us a tremendous season and appears to be on the way to making a major addition to the Doctor’s history and mythology.

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We will be anxiously awaiting the 50th anniversary episode, and the eight season since the reboot has been officially announced.

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

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Star Trek Into Darkness is an entertaining movie well worth seeing but it is not great Star Trek. J.J. Abrams knows how to make a great action movie (even if there is too much lens-flare) but he does not really understand Star Trek. The plot is a series of contrivances for a series of action scenes, lacking Gene Roddenbery’s vision which made Star Trek great. Wil Wheaton has already responded to Abrams’ failing to understand the importance of philosophy to Star Trek. This was far more Star Wars than true Star Trek.

Partially in Abrams’ defense, Star Trek should be a television series, not movie. It takes a weekly television series to develop the characters and show the philosophy of Star Trek in a series of smaller stories as opposed to big action scenes. Unfortunately the movies thrive on big action scenes, and the original movie series also failed to live up to the quality of the television shows. A movie which was true to Star Trek would have to be directed more towards Star Trek fans than a mass audience. Star Trek The Motion Picture did avoid the big action scenes and was not a great success, but it also had other flaws.

Abrams depends even more on the big action scenes than the original movie series, moving from one to the other at the expense of a logical plot or really dealing with issues. Thus we have a few lines of explanation for Khan’s motivations (including a reference to Section 31 which I did enjoy) but Abrams did not develop the character as well as in either Space Seed or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Benedict Cumberbatch did play an excellent villain with the material available.

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Admiral Marcus turned out to be a second villain but his motivations did not seem realistic. It s one thing to bend the rules to get Star Fleet to prepare for a war you feel is coming. It is another thing to attempt to destroy the Enterprise or to directly try to provoke war with the Klingons. The movie also had one thing in common with the other recent blockbuster, Iron Man 3. Both include a character who is influenced into betraying others to help their child.

There is some degree of political controversy and references to current events in the movie. Khan was the terrorist on Kronos in an analogy to today’s terrorists in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. The morality of using drones to kill a terrorist versus taking the terrorist into custody for a fair trial was raised. This was dealt with too simply with Khan being in an unpopulated area where capturing him seemed to be a more realistic option.

I do wish the timeline could be fixed as it was on The Name of the Doctor, but we must deal with the J.J. Abrams alternative timeline for now. I did not object, as some fans did in response to rumors of Khan’s appearance, to this retelling of the story. It was plausible that Admiral Marcus might have found the Botany Bay at an earlier point in history, and after the destruction of Vulcan might tried to make use of Khan.

There were other changes in this timeline compared to the original timeline. For example, they actually thought to put seat belts on the bridge.

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While obviously it relates to changes in our culture as opposed to Nero’s changes in the timeline, sexual attitudes are different. On one hand, Kirk is still the womanizer, and they added a young, beautiful, and scantily clad Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) to the movie and trailer to increase interest in the movie. In other ways things were different. Kirk started on his five year mission to go “where on one has gone before.” It took us from the original series to Star Trek The Next Generation to update from “where no man has gone before.” Uhura had a far more active role. For the most part I liked this, except in the scene where Uhura was beamed down to join Spock in fighting Khan. This should have been a big guy whose primary job involved fighting, not a communications officer. Of course the original Star Trek would have been unrealistic in its own way. Captain Kirk would have been the one to beam down, simultaneously placing the Captain and First Officer in danger.

A surprise in this movie which is an obvious consequence from the previous movie was how  Spock took advantage of his counterpart from the original timeline to obtain information about Khan. This did allow Spock to figure out that Khan could not be trusted, but there were plenty of other clues even without contacting New Vulcan. This does present the danger of providing an easy way to get answers in further adventures, which might be avoided by facing different dangers or by being too far out into deep space to contact the original Spock. It was a surprise to see Leonard Nimoy in this movie, and it is questionable as to how much longer he will be able or willing to put on those Vulcan ears and appear on screen. They also met up with Tribbles earlier in this timeline and a Tribble played a key role.

Compared to The Wrath of Khan, this movie reversed Kirk and Spock making the sacrifice and screaming out the name of Khan. For a moment I feared they might be leaving the resurrection of James Kirk to the next movie as was done with Spock in the original series. Thankfully everything was resolved in this installment.

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I did not like some of the changes in technology from the original timeline.  I did not like having Khan being able to easily transport himself from earth to Kronos. This is not Doctor Who. I disliked even more having Star Fleet build bigger ships for battle. The Enterprise is already much larger. While the Enterprise was built primarily for exploration, it is still the flagship for Star Fleet. Military threats should be handled by the Enterprise and other similar star ships, and there should not be bigger, more powerful ships to rely on.

Ultimately The Name of the Doctor will be remembered as significant and rewatched by fans. Star Trek Into Darkness provided a very entertaining night at the movies, which isn’t all bad, but it was a one-shot affair without much significance to Star Trek history. I just hope it is successful enough to eventually lead to a new television series. A cable television show does not need the mass audience of a blockbuster movie to succeed.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Merlin; Iron Man 3; Avengers; SHIELD; True Blood; Gillian Anderson; Person of Interest; The Americans; Firefly

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The Crimson Horror is perhaps the sweetest episode of Doctor Who ever, and starts out without the Doctor. The episode provides a vehicle for two sets of characters: 1) Jenny, Vastra & Strax and 2) characters played by Diana Rigg and her real-life daughter Rachael Stirling. This is the first time that the mother-daughter combination have ever worked together. Bringing back Jenny, Vastra, and Strax also helps with the continuity of the season. Jenny even had a scene which reminded me of Diana Rigg’s old  character Emma Peal from The Avengers, combining the two sets. Victorian England episodes tend to have the most realistic look of episodes taking place in different places or times. Undoubtedly appropriate sets and costumes are easiest to obtain.

The Doctor, and even later Clara, don’t become involved until later, but their absence in the early portions of the episode is handled well. There was a far better payoff to find that the Doctor was the monster when we did not see what happened to him until later. We were brought up to date by a sepia-toned sequence which gives the information viewers need without taking  time to provide excess detail.  Going through the earlier aspects of the Doctor’s involvement in a condensed manner was also helpful because Mark Gatiss had so much going on this episode that he already had to wrap it up too quickly. This would have worked better as a Sherlock-length story.

Being Doctor Who, there are invariably some things which seem unbelievable even if we believe in the Time Lords and the rest of the mythology surrounding the Doctor. It is hard to believe that a rocket of this type could have been built back in that era. The kid, Thomas, who sounded like my phone’s GPS raising further questions. I suspect this one might be cleared up in the season finale when we return to the Doctor’s friends. (As I also went to see Iron Man 3 Saturday night after watching Doctor Who, it was a big night for kids getting into the action.)

The reference to past Doctors was more subtle this week. When the Doctor wound up in Yorkshire instead of London he mentioned his past difficulties in making it to the right place, including problems getting an  Australian to Heathrow, referring to the fifth Doctor and Tegan. I suspect that I missed the meaning of some of the references to Yorkshire versus London which would mean more to those living in the U.K.

When Clara returned home, the kids she cares for had found old pictures of her, demonstrating her travels in time. It is highly unlikely for either these pictures to exist and for the kids to realize they are of Clara (as opposed to someone who might look like her) but this was probably done for two reasons. First Clara was surprised by seeing a picture of her from London where this Clara has not been. Secondly this was probably done to lead into next week’s episode, Nightmare in Silver, which includes the kids. I wouldn’t be all that upset if the kids wind up being assimilated by the Cybermen (who have been looking increasingly like the Borg). Nightmare in Silver will reportedly also include stock footage of William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee.

Quote of the episode: “I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m going to stop you.”

The Behind the Scenes video is above

Jenny, Vastra & Strax will be returning in the season finale, The Name Of The Doctor. The episode will also include River Song, post-library. Here’s the official synopsis:

“Every journey taken by a time-traveller tears a wound in the fabric of reality, and the Doctor has time-travelled more than anyone. But the trail runs cold in Trenzalore, the one place in all of time and space that he should never go. The most dangerous place in the universe…

This quote from the episode was also released:

“The path I carved through time and space, from Gallifrey to Trenzalore. My own personal time tunnel, leading back to every moment I ever lived. Every step, every tear, every kiss. Even the days I haven’t lived yet. Which is why I shouldn’t be here. The paradoxes… very bad…”

Trenzalore has been linked with the fall of the eleventh and thought to mean the time when the eleventh Doctor regenerates. If we are to see the fall of the eleventh it must mean something different. Moffat says someone will die in the episode. As they are only seen occasionally, they could easily kill off one of the three Victorian detectives. As this is a p0st-library River, she can also die. Considering that the Doctor and River meet in a mixed up order, this wouldn’t prevent the Doctor from running into River in the future, at an earlier point in her time line.

David Tennant will be the only former Doctor on the 50th Anniversary episode but there will be an  homage to the very first episode of the series, An Unearthly Child.

The Guardian has an interview with Steven Moffat here.

One of the more implausible scenes in The Angels Take Manhattan was having the Statue of Liberty, as a Weeping Angel, travel across Manhattan. Among the many problems raised by this scene is the question of how the Statue of Liberty could make it very far since Angels freeze if anyone is watching. Most fans probably just let this pass as a good scene regardless of whether plausible. Steven Moffat has now provided an explanation (but I’m not sure this is any more plausible):

“The Angels can do so many things. They can bend time, climb inside your mind, hide in pictures, steal your voice, mess with your perception, leak stone from your eye… New York in 1938 was a nest of Angels and the people barely more than farm animals. The abattoir of the lonely assassins!

“In those terrible days, in that conquered city, you saw and understood only what the Angels allowed, so Liberty could move and  hunt as it wished, in the blink of an eye, unseen by the lowly creatures upon which it preyed. Also, it tiptoed.”

I’ll go with “it tiptoed.”

It has been ages since I finished watching Merlin by downloading episodes, but they have just resumed broadcasting the final episodes in the United States. While much of the final season was weaker than earlier seasons, the final few episodes did provide an excellent finale for the series. There has been talk of a movie version of MerlinColin Morgan is moving on to other projects and isn’t interested in playing Merlin again.

As Iron Man 3 breaks box office records, there is lots of attention on the future of the Marvel movie universe. There are conflicting reports as to whether there will be an Iron Man 4. I don’t think I am spoiling anything by saying that Iron Man 3 could easily serve as a conclusion of a trilogy, or the lead in for the probable future movies.   Robert Downey, Jr. has even left open the possibility of appearing in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and will most likely return to The Avengers 2. The next Avengers movie reportedly will add Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These reports must be taken cautiously as there is the possibility of characters winding up on the cutting room floor at this stage.

Above is the trailer for True Blood Season 6 which returns on June 16. Humans are fighting back, which provides for a change from previous seasons. I hope that this, plus a new show runner, solves some of the problems plaguing recent seasons.

Gillian Anderson of The X-Files is appearing in a five part thriller for the BBC 2 entitled The Fall. A review can be found here.

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I’ve been undecided as to whether to consider Person of Interest true science fiction or a mystery series with a science fiction element. The two-part season finale, which we are in the middle of, moves the series much further towards science fiction as the machine takes on a more active role beyond spitting out the numbers. Plus there’s the return of Amy Acker.

The Americans ended the season well. I’m glad they avoided a true cliff hanger. As we can assume Elizabeth will recover from her injuries, the finale leads us back pretty close to how the series began. Besides the danger of being exposed by their FBI agent neighbor, their daughter Paige is becoming suspicious. After having viewers root for having Claudia reassigned, I bet most changed their mind during the finale. Margo Martindale has been cast in a comedy pilot so the episode leaves open the options of her leaving or Philip and Elizabeth plausibly requesting that the decision be reversed. Show runners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg discussed the finale with Salon.

With Netflix bringing back Arrested Development, there has been hope that they might bring back some genre shows such as Firefly which didn’t survive more conventional television runs.   Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, gave this reason for not remaking Firefly:

“Let me give you one broad statement about these recovery shows. In almost every case the cult around the show gets more intense and smaller as time goes by. Arrested Development was the rarest of birds in that the audience of the show grew larger than the original broadcast audience because people came to discover it years after it was canceled. The Firefly fan is still the Firefly fan from when it was on TV and there’s fewer of them and they’re more passionate every year. Whereas with Arrested Development we’re going to be serving a multiple of the original audience. Any of the other shows we could bring back would be a fraction of the original audience.”A

Arrested Development probably would have more viewers than Firefly, but I don’t buy his explanation. I think that many others interested in this are more like me. I didn’t watch Firefly when it was on, but did buy the CD’s due to all the buzz after it was off the air.  I’m not super-passionate about the show, but I did enjoy it and if Firefly came back I would watch. I bet many other people have become fans after the initial run ended, providing for a larger audience in a remake than was present when on the air. Besides, Joss Whedon is now one of the hottest (perhaps the hottest) names in entertainment right now. I don’t think anything with his name attached should be ignored.

Other possibilities I’d suggest would be The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which ended at a point which begs for a conclusion, and Jericho which has some similarities to Revolution but did it much better.

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