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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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Power of Three; Merlin: Revolution

The Power of Three refers to both the power of the alien cubes and to the power of the three stars of Doctor Who. This week’s episode was primarily a last look at the Doctor’s relationship with Amy and Rory before their final episode next week. The slow invasion allowed the three to spend a lot of time together,  and we learned it has now been ten years since Amy first went off with the Doctor. Now Amy and Rory are starting to live normal lives, making commitments for the future which they would not have made in the past in case they were off somewhere with the Doctor.

The episode also provided a reunion with UNIT. It came as no surprise that the new head of UNIT,  Kate Stewart, played by Jemma Redgrave, turned out to be the daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Kate, apparently unaware that to most of the universe the Doctor has died, recognized him by his manner of dress and verified the presence of two hearts. Scientists are also now in control of UNIT.

Rory’s dad Brian asked the Doctor about the fate of his previous companions. The Doctor answered,  “Some left me. Some got left behind. And some… not many but… some died.” While this could be preparing the viewers for next week’s episode, this did not stop Brian from encouraging Rory and Amy to go off once again with the Doctor.

The invasion story provided an amusing backdrop as we saw the cubes become assimilated into day to day life over the course of the year. They were used for mundane tasks such as holding up menus in restaurants and had a thousand different Twitter accounts. Did the disparaging comment on Twitter reflect the views of either Matt Smith or Steven Moffat? The episode, like all the earlier episodes of the season, also included light bulbs–this time Christmas lights.

Unfortunately the ending was rushed and made little sense. The Doctor solved everything too easily with a wave of the Sonic Screwdriver. I can accept that the cubes were able to emit electric shocks to stop the hearts of those around them. After all, this is alien technology, and who are we to question what an apparently empty alien cube might be capable of? It is harder to accept that reversing the shock would restart the hearts of those around them as here we are dealing with human physiology. Once a heart has stopped and the person has died, a second shock would not reverse this. Even if this was possible, the the people should all be brain dead and not capable of just getting up again as if nothing had happened. (Or is this now a Zombie invasion to be dealt with in a future episode?)

Next week, The Angels Take Manhattan. The Space video promo is above. The BBC press release confirms what we already knew:

Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan

The Doctor’s heart-breaking farewell to Amy and Rory – a race against time through the streets of Manhattan, as New York’s statues come to life around them…

With Rory’s life in danger, the Doctor and Amy must locate him before it’s too late! Luckily, an old friend helps them and guides the way.

Guest stars: Mike McShane, Alex Kingston and Rob David

Written by Steven Moffat

Executive produced by Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner

Directed by Nick Hurran

Produced by Marcus Wilson

And above are two promos from the BBC.

A new promo for Merlin is above.

Despite the failure of multiple genre shows over the last couple of years, NBC is heavily hyping Revolution. If it succeeds I fear it will be because enough people like the gimmick of people fighting without modern weapons in a background which almost looks like our world. A sword fight in a Chicago hotel might be cool, but can this idea remain fresh for long? The special effects of a modern world destroyed without power were well done, but far too many genre shows try to succeed with special effects as opposed to a good story.

The science fiction aspects do remind me of FlashForward and Jericho. As on FlashForward, we have a change in the rules of physics with some unknown people responsible. Instead of jumping forward in time, on Revolution all devices dependent upon electricity suddenly stop working (but some people still have access to working electricity, appearing to have downloaded it to a fancy USB drive). Like on FlashForward, planes dropped from the sky and Elizabeth Mitchell has a role. I do question whether she is really dead, limited to appearing in flashbacks. When asked about this by Entertainment Weekly she responded, “I am not allowed to say one word. I’m not even allowed to tease.”

The show is also reminiscent of Jericho in showing people living after a tremendous disruption to normal life. It is more like the final episodes of Jericho, showing the battle for control of the country. The pilot might have felt more plausible if it was more like the early episodes of Jericho, showing how people survived and established a civilization. Perhaps we will see more of this in flashbacks on future episodes.

Like Lost there is a big mystery (along with Elizabeth Mitchell) , but according to J.J. Abrams the show will not feature long, drawn out mysteries as on Lost. The show’s writers do know why the power went out, and hopefully it doesn’t involve a man in black or turning the power back on with a donkey wheel. As it appears that this was intentional, there are two possible motives which I sure hope do not turn out to be the explanation. I hope it is not a case of environmental radicals turning out the power to reduce carbon emissions. Anyone capable of stopping all electricity in the world would probably be able to come up with a more sensible solution to global warming such as a clean energy source or a way to cool the planet. I also hope this is not a reaction to the situation seen at the start of the pilot, showing signs of too much technology invading our lives. If someone with advanced technology wanted to act upon this, it would make more sense to knock out television and cell phones, as opposed to all electricity which would cause massive deaths.

 

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SciFi Weekend: Sherlock Returns In the US; Doctor Who News; Merlin to be Darker; The Avengers; Awake; Fringe; Gratuitous Sex on Game of Thrones; Jericho; Lost; Friday Night Lights;

With Doctor Who now filming and the second season of Sherlock premiering in the United States tonight, there has been a lot of news about both shows. For those who have not seen it, Steven Moffat’s version of Sherlock is fantastic, regardless of whether you are a fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. It is definitely worth watching for the next three weeks on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.  I think that the second season was even better than the first. While all three episodes were excellent, like the first season the first and third episodes are the most significant.

Steven Moffat was interviewed in the United States by Fresh Air prior to the start of the second season of Sherlock on PBS. The interview was primarily directed towards American audiences who are not familiar with Sherlock and Doctor Who. Several of the questions involved casting, and one item of interest was that Matt Smith had interviews for the role of Watson before being chosen to play the Doctor. Moffat also had this to say about casting Matt Smith:

Everything else about a show, other than casting — however great or admirable or excellent it is — can only sort of really be admired. People don’t really have a relationship with great writing or great production or great art direction or great direction. They just sort of admire it. What people fall in love with, oddly enough, is other people. The difference between a beautifully made failure and a beautifully made hit is who you’ve got playing the leads. It really, seriously is. Is a nation going to fall in love with those people and want to see them week after week? And making that decision is tough. But it’s easier if you’ve got a great casting director. … In the case of Matt Smith as The Doctor, I’d be very, very adamant that we have an older Doctor — that he’d be in his 40s. I wasn’t going to have any young Doctors on my watch. And on the very, very first day — the very, very first day — he was the third one through the door. His audition was so perfect, any fool would have cast him. It was dead easy. And I remember asking, ‘What age is he?’ And he was 26 and instantly the perfect Doctor because he does do that thing of combining the old man and a young man. He looks like a young man assembled by old men from memory.”

On the importance of Watson:

“If you look at any good version of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson is every bit as important as Sherlock Holmes, and some would argue more so, because he’s our conduit to Sherlock Holmes. He’s the person to whom, in a way, the story happens. We are more emotionally resonant with Dr. Watson than with Sherlock Holmes because Sherlock Holmes is a hard man to empathize with.”

In contrast, the show is largely from Sherlock’s perspective:

“We always wanted it to be stylish. We didn’t want it to be like other television. We wanted it to have a film sense. Everybody says that about their TV show. Everyone says that. But then my wife got a hold of [director] Paul McGuigan, and he’s the one who brought the tremendous beauty to it. One of the things he said was, ‘You want to think Sherlock Holmes is behind the camera, too.’ You want to see the world as Sherlock Holmes sees it. And that informs his work on an awful lot of the show, to give you the Sherlock’s eye view of the world all the time.”

Moffat had this to say about his childhood:

“I’m a geek. I’m a writer. I spent all of my time in my childhood obsessing about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. I was alone, I was an outsider — what do you expect? I was that bullied kid at the back of the class weeping for loneliness. I don’t think, generally speaking, people become writers because they were the really good, really cool, attractive kid in class. I’ll be honest. This is our revenge for people who were much better looking and more popular than us. I was a bit like that, I suppose.”

Even though Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are becoming big stars, Moffat is confident that they will return for future series of Sherlock. The three episode a year formula gives them plenty of time for other projects and, just to be safe, Moffat has their families locked up in his basement. Cumberbatch, now filming on Star Trek, does not share Moffat’s objection to Elementary:

“As we already know with the Downey Jr movie franchise that there’s room enough for two [Sherlock Holmes projects], so why not three?” the actor said at a Q&A session in New York to promote Sherlock series two airing on PBS.

Cumberbatch added that he considers Trainspotting star Miller – with whom he starred in the play Frankenstein at the National Theatre – a “friend”.

“[Elementary will] be different and I don’t think it’ll take away the love for ours, and there’s no reason to be churlish or bitter about them or what they’re trying to do,” he said.

It appears that River (aka Melody Pond) will pose as a gangster named Melody Malone. More pictures (and spoilers) from the upcoming season can be seen here.Doctor Who TV also gathered items of interest from an interview with Steven Moffat in Doctor Who Magazine:

  • Rory and Amy are no longer regular travelers with the Doctor: “If he thinks he needs them, he just pops in on them,” but, “Each time they’ll get a little older.”
  • Moffat on killing off companions: “Even if I don’t think I’ll do it…maybe I will do it!”
  • Moffat ponders, “If we did a UNIT story, would Martha be there?”
  • The Special Weapons Dalek will definitely appear in the opener
  • Moffat reiterates that the New Paradigm Daleks are an “officer class”
  • Can the question “Doctor Who?” be answered? “Wait and see”
  • We will find out exactly what Trenzalore is all about
  • “The Fall of the Eleventh” will also be resolved (perhaps not in Series 7 though)
  • Moffat is very keen that the order of the episodes can be swapped around this time
  • There will still be a story arc, but it will be “the opposite” of Series 6
  • Even though he said no more two-parters, they are still possible if the story requires them
  • Jenna-Louise’s companion will be different to the others and is “going to be a shock”
  • Filming will continue throughout the rest of 2012 and further into 2013 and beyond

Bond director Sam Mendes compared the James Bond franchise to Doctor Who in this interview:

The first time I saw the movie, I was like, “You’ve got to be joking! You can’t do that to the poor man!” But it was too…they were playing almost embarrassment, almost apologized for having a new Bond and I thought that was wrong, and I thought what they got right was Casino Royale. There was a kind of “We don’t need Q, we don’t need Moneypenny. We’ve got this character. We’re going right back to basics. He’s real, he’s in a real situation. Let’s start all over again.”  I thought that was very refreshing.

That’s why I mentioned the word in the press conference, “regeneration” rather than “evolving,” because I feel it is like, you know, we have Doctor Who…there’s a geek answer…we have Doctor Who and I was brought up on the idea of Doctor Who, who at the end of his final episode, he dissolves and a new actor pops up and he regenerates and it’s a whole other character: sometimes it’s an old man, sometimes it’s a young man, but he just changes.  I’ve always loved that idea.

Julian Murphy says that Season 5 of Merlin will be darker. Time will have passed showing the established court of Arthur, and there will be an older Mordred.

Combine Marvel characters and Joss Whedon and we had a formula where The Avengers really did live up to all the hype. An interview with Joss Whedon is above. The movie sets up conditions for further movies centered around Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.  Mark Ruffalo did a much better job of playing Bruce Banner than Edward Norton did , and now there are reports that further Hulk movies might be made, possibly along with a movie centered around Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. As has been the case with the previous Marvel movies, it is important to stay in the theater during the credits for an extra scene. In this case there are two extra scenes. One during the credits is probably significant in terms of a future threat for Thor and/or The Avengers. The second, at the very end of the credits, is not important but was still fun to watch.

As many watch movies long after the initial release date I tend to avoid saying much about the plot of movies in posts here. Those wanting to avoid even a minor spoiler might want to skip the end of this paragraph. In movies of this type it is necessary to accept a lot which is unrealistic, but I was bothered a little with the inconsistency in the portrayal of the Hulk. The first time Banner became the Hulk he was more destructive and showed less understanding of his situation as compared to his final appearance in the second Hulk movie. Then, when he became the Hulk for a second time, he acted with complete understanding of working as part of the Avengers team.

As usual with Awake, the personal events involving Britten in this week’s episode, Slack Water, were more interesting than the criminal cases. Once again the possible clues as to whether the two different worlds for Britten are both real are also contradictory. In some episodes there is real information obtained in one world which is helpful to solve a crime in the other. Other episodes were more like this week, were the house which is the scene of the crime in one reality was the name of a video game played by a murder victim in another, leading to Britten finding out information which helped solve the crime. Having the house be real in one reality but a video game in the other suggests that only one, or perhaps neither, reality experienced by Britten is real and his mind (or some other source) is supplying this information.

The more important story line came out of the revelation last week that Rex’s girl friend Emma was pregnant, with Emma having a miscarriage in the world where Rex survived the auto crash and continuing to carry Rex’s child in the world where Rex was killed. It was rather obvious that Emma did not agree with the decision of her parents to have a closed adoption, even if only Hannah recognized this during most of the episode. A theme of the show has been for Michael Britten to replace his loses in both realities. Where Hannah died, he keeps the older partner and has a female psychiatrist. In the reality where Rex was killed, Michael has a young male psychiatrist and is given a new, younger male partner.  (I did find it strange that the older former partner was not seen at Michael’s going away party in the other reality where Michael was given new partner.) Now things have worked out in the reality where Rex died that Michael not only has the prospect of adopting Rex’s child, but events have also worked out that they have a new teen-aged child in the home.

One implication of this is that Britten is no longer planning to move to Oregon and the person responsible for the earlier attempt on his life is now likely to act again. The back story was further developed as we learned that this involves a heroin shipment, and we learned that the police Captain  had been a narcotics cop in the past, providing some explanation as to how she might have become involved.

The previews for next week’s episode suggest that we might learn more about Britten’s situation. For at least part of the episode he ceases to go into the Rex universe. Could this mean that over there he is dead (unlikely), unconsciousness, or perhaps because he has to solve the mystery of his attempted murder in the other universe in order to protect himself in the other before returning. A voice over in the preview has Britten saying,  “There was no accident. They were trying to kill me.” Unfortunately Britten is off screen, so we cannot tell if he is wearing the typical white shirt of the Hannah universe or blue shirt of the Rex universe and we cannot be certain if the murder attempt, so far only mentioned in the Rex universe, is now becoming a factor in the Hannah universe.

While there has been suspicion that Leonard Nimoy was going to return to play William Bell on Fringe, they still managed to keep Nimoy’s actual appearance on this week’s episode of Fringe a secret. As an example of the misdirection used, in an interview shortly before the last episode aired, Jeff  Pinkner had this to say about the possibility of Nimoy returning: “We basically erected a sign outside of Leonard’s house which said, “Please come back to Fringe,” and we are hoping that by season five he says yes.” In the interview Pinkner also said we will again see the world of 2036 but avoided answering a question as to whether we will see the alternative universe again.

I09 looked at the gratuitous sex and violence on Game of Thrones.

There has been talk this week that Netflix might revive Jericho. It makes sense for Netflix to revive shows which have a strong following (such as with Arrested Development) even if off the air for several years considering they are shows which significant numbers of Netflix subscribers are currently watching. As more companies start to compete with Netflix for streaming older shows, providing new episodes will give subscribers reason to stick with Netflix.

Speaking of streaming providers, there was a major update to the Android versions of HBO Go and Max Go this week so that they finally work with Ice Cream Sandwich.

If Netflix might bring back Jericho, there has been speculation as to other old shows which might return. Damon Lindelof leaves open the idea of more Lost, but is not interested in personally being involved:

Lindelof has no interest in revisiting “Lost” anytime soon.

“It’s been two years (since the series wrapped) and we told the story we wanted to tell,” Lindelof said. But he admits ABC might look for ways to bring back “Lost” in some form. “I do feel like the world has not seen the end of ‘Lost,’ but I’m not going to have any involvement,” he said.

Lindelof isn’t bitter about the idea, however.

“It would be hypocritical for me to say I’m going to do ‘Star Trek’ but I don’t want anyone to touch ‘Lost,’ ” he said.

It is also looking like the plans to bring back Friday Night Lights as a movie are really going forward.

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SciFi Weekend Part III: Doctor Who, Torchwood, 24, and the Television Returns of Lorelai and Lizzy

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Part I reviewed the return of Battlestar Galactica and Part II featured information on Lost. I will conclude this expanded version of SciFi Weekend with briefer comments on additional shows, as usual moving beyond science fiction.

There is some information available on the next Doctor Who special, which will air around Easter.Tardis and Torchwood Treasures previously posted this information:

The name of the next special is Planet of the Dead and the episode itself has been written by both Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts. It is expected to air around Easter and filming for the episode will begin on the nineteenth of January next year. The episode will feature two characters called Malcolm and Christina and U.N.I.T will also be making an appearance. Rumours also suggest that parts of the episode will be filmed abroad in Tunisia.

Additional information was provided by Russell T. Davies, who also says it is time to introduce new monsters after the last two episodes involved Daleks and Cybermen:

“After the events of Journey’s End and The Next Doctor, I think it’s time to get away from the past and have an adventure with lots of new elements. And lots of fun too! The next Special should be a nice antidote to Christmas, with a bit of sunshine if we’re lucky. And with not one but two alien races that you’ve never seen before.”

American viewers of Doctor Who either must wait months after episodes are broadcast on the BBC or illegally download the episodes. The third season of Torchwood will consist of only five episodes to be broadcast this summer on consecutive nights, but they have finally figured out the only way to reduce  illegal downloads. BBC America will broadcast the episodes a few hours after they are broadcast in the U.K.

24 returned but despite the decision to shut down CTU and move the show to Washington, the show rapidly returned to a similar format with Jack teaming up with Tony,  Bill Buchanan, and Chole. The twist is that they are working on their own due to conspiracies in the goverment which have infiltrated the White House and the FBI. There is more question this season as to whether Jack’s use of torture is right or wrong.

Sometimes viewers take the show too seriously, forgetting that it is only a television show. Media Matters notes that some conservatives even have tried to use a fictional show to justify their support for torture. On the other hand, I sometimes receive comments that I should not cover 24 due to its portrayal of torture. While liberals who argue this do have a point, they also must remember this is fiction, and that hopefully most people can still consider the real issues surrounding torture. Not even all conservatives blindly believe everything they see on the show. Conservative blogger Rick Moran has discussed the question of whether this television show increases the use of torture, and of whether torture works:

Jack Bauer may be the first fictional character ever to be accused of inspiring real life war crimes. This charge was not made by some obscure left wing blogger but by U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, along with several senior FBI and CIA agents who have conducted thousands of interrogations in their careers. Their verdict was simple and straightforward; the torture scenes in the show were affecting the way that cadets at West Point as well as troops in the field were approaching the interrogation of prisoners.

Finnegan said that he’d like to see a show “where torture backfired.” All the experts agreed that torture, even when used in the show’s “ticking bomb” context, would never work. They pointed out that the fanatics, knowing that the bomb would go off soon, would simply hold out, secure in the knowledge that their suffering couldn’t last much longer.

They also pointed out that terrorist prisoners actually looked forward to torture as the first step towards martyrdom. An interrogation professional would never use it and would, instead, take the opposite tack of trying to build a relationship with the prisoner, drawing him out gradually by gaining his trust. Besides, the “ticking bomb” scenario itself was totally unrealistic and would never happen in the real world.

It is a dubious proposition that a fictional TV character would cause our soldiers to forget their training and their upbringing just to imitate Jack Bauer. The evidence is purely anecdotal, presented by people with an obvious agenda. But that doesn’t mitigate the fact that they felt compelled to speak out against Bauer’s almost casual approach to violating the law and their concern that people get the wrong idea about the best way to interrogate prisoners.

As the show questions the fantasy of torture being effective, it also might even question the ultimate fantasy of the show–that Jack Bauer is invincible. Kristin reveals that there might only be one additional season of the show, there might be a movie after the eighth season, and that they might even blow up the whole world, and Jack Bauer with it.

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24 might not be the only show which concludes with movies. A movie version of Jericho is in the works, and if it is a success perhaps the show will be brought back once again. Jericho was canceled after the first season but returned for a second season after protests from fans. Moonlighting might be returning as a television movie for its 20th anniversary.  Bryan Fuller is also hoping to have a movie of Pushing Daisies to wrap up the show. Meanwhile, fans of Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Eli Stone will have to wait until summer to see the final episodes of these canceled series.

Heroes returns with a new chapter, and after problems with the last chapter Tim Kring is hoping viewers will return. The next chapter. Fugitives, was written so as not to require knowledge of previous stories. Fringe is also returning, and Sci FI Wire has some spoilers on the conclusion of the season.

Previously Mad Men had been renewed but series creat0r Matthew Weiner had been holding out on returning. After months of negotiations a deal was reached in which Weiner will return for two seasons for a seven figure deal.

Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls will be returning to television. Entertainment Weekly reports:

We’re one step closer to getting another weekly TV date with Gilmore Girls‘ Lauren Graham. (Pause for cheers. And… we’re back.) Though we were under the impression NBC was developing a comedy for the actress, Variety reports that ABC has greenlit production on an untitled half-hour pilot in which Graham will play “a self-help guru who teaches women how to live a stress-free life — but struggles to follow her own advice when her boyfriend dumps her.” The show, which features Will & Grace‘s Alex Herschlag and Arrested Development‘s Mitchell Hurwitz among its exec producers, sounds promising, right? I know we can’t let our Gilmore love lead us blindly into TiVo season passes (see: Amy Sherman-Palladino’s ill-fated The Return of Jezebel James), but this set-up could give us Lauren the way we like her: smart, supportive, sarcastic, self-deprecating, slightly neurotic, seriously funny, and above all, at the center of the story. In movies, she’s been “the wife.” On stage, she’ll be “the girlfriend.” (She’s expected to make her Broadway debut as Miss Adelaide in a spring revival of Guys and Dolls.) But on TV, she’ll always be “the star.” Make her self-help guru a fast-talking pop-culture connoisseur, and it’s my favorite show.

Hilary Duff also returns to television in Barely Legal. It sounds like the concept is something along the lines of Lizzy McGuire goes to law school so she can sue Doogey Houser.

Several characters from Veronica Mars are being reunited in Rob Thomas’  new series Party Down, and Kristen Bell might even make an appearance.

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SciFi Weekend Part I: Are We All Cylons?

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Sometimes a Great Notion, the mid-season premier of Battlestar Galactica, answered some questions but raised even bigger questions. This does contain major spoilers, but I would think that anyone who plans to watch the episode later already realizes they need to avoid any on line discussion of the show.

The fleet, along with their new Cylon allies, landed on Earth at the conclusion of the previous episode before a several month hiatus. They found a planet which had been destroyed, and early in this week’s episode it was established that it had been destroyed in a nuclear attack about two thousand years earlier. There was a series of real shockers as we learned more. Toaster Cylons were found, but they were a different model than was known, initially suggesting that humans of Earth had built their own Cylons which proceeded to destroy them.  The story became even more complicated when they found that the inhabitants of Earth were actually Cylons. With the theme of things reoccurring, has the fleet arrived on the Earth two thousand years after our destruction (and are we therefore Cylons), are they our ancestors, or is there more than one place known as Earth?

I was a bit puzzled how they established that Earth had been settled by Cylons  from the remains considering that they couldn’t differentiate humans from Cylons infiltrating the fleet. Finding that the thirteenth tribe which settled Earth was a Cylon tribe totally changes the time line in which we believed the human-appearing Cylons were a recent development. This also means that there were many more models of Cylons besides those we have seen and the one so far unidentified model.

Another shock came when Starbuck found her own crashed Viper along with her dead body. We knew all along that there was something fishy about the manner in which she went to Earth and later returned, but this creates more questions as to how her body, along with Viper, were recreated. Does this mean she is yet another form of Cylon, or is someone also now resurrecting humans? Is there really even a meaningful difference between humans and Cylons?

Many members of the fleet  responded with despair to the realization that their hopes of finding Earth were now destroyed. The most dramatic example was seeing Dee arrange to live out one last perfect day before committing suicide.

Throughout the episode we saw clues that the recently-revealed Cylons among the fleet had actually lived on Earth before its destruction. The episode concluded with the revelation of the final Cylon when Colonel Tigh had a vision of himself and Ellen during the attack of two thousand years earlier. Before she died, Ellen reassured her then and future husband that they will be reborn together. Why were only these five to be resurrected? Is there a relationship between their resurrection and whatever happened to Starbuck? If resurrection of the final five is possible, will we see Ellen again?

Prior to the airing of the episode, Variety had several articles on the show.  This included “luminaries in many fields” including our friend Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly’s Politcal Animal blog who wrote about the politics of the show. Steve also does a weekly radio show which discusses both politics and science fiction.

Ron Moore discussed last night’s episode with Maureen Ryan. He explained how he decided on making Ellen the final Cylon. As has been clear from other interviews, while the Cylons might have had a plan from the start, Moore did not have his plan for the series laid out until later:

Why Ellen?

There’s a certain logic to it. I sort of figured out early on that I liked the pairing of her and Tigh. [I liked] that there was something deeper to their marriage and deeper to their relationship, that it was literally a relationship that had transcended time and space, that it was very ancient that had gone on for a very long time. It was something that was [mentioned] in the pilot for “Galactica.”

And he had killed her for collaborating with the Cylons! There were layers and depths to that I felt were really fascinating, about guilt and blame and memory and responsibility, and I just really liked the way that all tied together…

When did you make that selection?

It was somewhere in the course of the third season [that the possibility was first raised.] We killed Ellen early that season and we didn’t have an inkling of that at that point. But at the point that we killed Ellen, around the same time frame, I was starting to come up with the idea that there were five Cylons that had yet to be revealed.

At the beginning of the third season, Baltar had gone to live on the Cylon base ship for a string of episodes. And it was really that plot move that threw into relief — well, once Baltar’s over in the Cylon world, why wouldn’t he see all 12 of them? How could we get around that and parcel that out? Then I had this idea, well, what if it’s not random? What if there’s a meaning to the fact that we haven’t seen the five of them? And that’s how the Final Five became part of the mythos.

Over the course of the third season, Ellen came and went in my thinking in terms of who the final five were. It probably wasn’t until we settled on the final four that I knew it was Ellen. When we got to the final four — Tigh, Anders, Tory and Tyrol — then it felt like, “and Ellen has to be the fifth.” Because Tigh being revealed as a Cylon was such a profound shift in that character, such a big leap for the show, that it felt really natural that she was also a Cylon.

It sounds like we will probably see Ellen again, but this is not clear as he might be speaking of a flash back:

So we will come to know, in this next set of episodes, who knew that Ellen was a Cylon, and that will play out in what’s coming?

Yes.

So we’ll see her again. Does she figure prominently in the season?

I don’t want to give too much away, but it won’t be the last time that you see Ellen.

As Ellen knew before she died that they would be reborn, should Ellen return she might also know more about what is going on than the other four final Cylons.

While the identity of the final Cylon had been treated as the big mystery, the questions about the history of Earth and its relation to the Cylons created even bigger questions. Moore provided some hints in this series of questions, verifying that Earth had really been destroyed two thousand years earlier and whether the planet is really Earth:

The crazy thing about this is, even without Ellen, even without Dee, we also got a ton of information or clues about what happened on Earth and what happened with the Colonies in the past. I could spend an hour asking you questions about that. Tigh and Baltar are offering this theory that the Cylons are the 13th tribe and they found this planet and they called it Earth. Are we to read that as a theory or as fact?

I think you can read that as fact.

The part of the timeline I’m having trouble with is this: We know that the Colonies had a cataclysm 2,000 years ago, then we find out Earth had a cataclysm 2,000 years ago. Am I getting something wrong in how I’m looking at the history?

No, you are getting it correctly. I can say that later, as we get through subsequent episodes, there will be more explanations, and actually all this timeline stuff does lock into place. You have to read the subsequent chapters, but it will actually make sense.

We see the flashback of Tyrol in that marketplace, and it seemed like a planet full of lots of different kinds of people, not just 12 different models. Is that right?

Yes.

That planet is Earth? We’re not going to find out, “Oh, there’s this other Earth over here…” This is the only Earth we’ll see?

They have found Earth. This is the Earth that the 13th Colony discovered, they christened it Earth. They found Earth.

While Moore verifies the planet is Earth he did not outright rule out the possibility that it  is not the only Earth. In the original series, the fleet went to Terra Prime initially believing it was Earth, and later discovered otherwise. If things which happened before are to happen again in Moore’s Battlestar Galactica universe, could a tribe leave to settle a planet named Earth more than once?

Two weeks ago I posted information on the rumored final scene of Battlestar Galactica. Assuming this is true, there are questions as to how this fits in with what we learned in this week’s episode. Does the final scene with Six take place two thousand years ago before the destruction of Earth, in a future when things will repeat themselves and Earth civilization as we know it comes into existence, or on another planet also known as Earth? The final episodes should be interesting as we learn what all this means.

(The return of Battlestar Galactica deserved a post of its own. Part II and Part III of SciFi Weekend will be posted later this weekend with information on shows including Lost, Doctor Who, Torchwood, 24, and Jericho.)

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SciFi Friday (Saturday Edition): Jericho, Torchwood, and Britney

It was a slow week with Lost on hiatus, Torchwood off for a week on the BBC, and shows such as Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica being on the verge of returning with new episodes. Battlestar Galactica is airing a recap show in case someone wants to begin watching with the final season. (You will still have missed quite a bit with a thirty minute recap only touching the surface.)

The major event of the week was the series finale of Jericho. The finale, Patriots and Tyrants, had to wrap up a series which had already been condensed into seven episodes. My suspicion is that the season would have been much better if there was more time for each plot thread to play out as opposed to quickly presenting major events before fully seeing the impact on prior events.

The ending left things open for a continuation, with there remaining some possibility that the SciFi Channel or CW might pick up the series. This is hardly surprising as even though they did not leave without a cliff hanger they had created a country which was drastically changed, leaving plenty of room for future development. Executive Producer Carol Barbee provided some information as to what the finale would have been like if they had gone with the other ending prepared for if the show had been picked up. The show’s official web site also contains photos from the episode with a scene I do not recall (one above) making me wonder if it is something which was present in the other version.

One aspect of the rushed season I didn’t like was the minimal treatment of the John Smith subplot. It came as no surprise that he turned out to be a bad guy but we ultimately found out too little about him. In many ways his addition actually weakened the narrative for the final episodes. Jericho was becoming a commentary on Iraq and contemporary America with Jennings and Rall taking on the role of an even more powerful Halliburton. The viewers, and later characters like Beck, saw that something was rotten with the new government and there was the implication that there was a connection between them and the destruction of twenty-three American cities.

Until John Smith took credit for the nuclear explosions, the suspicion was that Jennings and Rall might have been responsible for the attack in order to take over. Instead John Smith claimed he did so in order to rid the country of the influence of Jennings and Rall. This still leaves the Allied States government with problems, but they are not as evil as they were appearing at one point. Without time to develop Smith, it would have been better for the attack to have come from J&R as at least we would have had known something about them. In John Smith’s case we saw far too little of the person who was identified to be the show’s ultimate villain.

Another question is why the bomb was brought to Cheyenne as opposed to a military base, especially considering that it was being transported out of the city shortly after it arrived. This was clearly done to give them an excuse to show Cheyenne, but it helped reduce the believability of the finale. The conclusion in which Texas is expected to join with the Columbus government in a civil war against Cheyenne would have been stronger if we had seen more evidence that the other two governments did not suffer from problems similar to those in Cheyenne. How does Jake and Hawkins really know that the other two would turn out any better?


Torchwood only has one more episode this season (with others still to be shown on BBC America) but it looks like there will be a bonus episode which we do not get to actually see. Digital Spy reports:

Bridging the gap between an apparently apocalyptic end to its second season and the potentially-revamped third, sexy alien-hunter show Torchwood is making the jump to radio. A special one-off episode about the secret organization that guards a “temporal rift” in Cardiff will be transmitted on BBC Radio 4 this summer — and it happens to be oddly topical, if you’re a science geek.

In the 45 minute episode, to be broadcast in Radio 4′s traditional “Afternoon Play” slot, the Torchwood team – portrayed by their television cast – will deal with a mission revolving around a particle accelerator. Why a particle accelerator, you ask? Well, because the episode will be transmitted on the same day as the opening of the world’s biggest particle accelerator in Switzerland, and if nothing else, Radio 4 likes to keep up with what’s happening in the world.

Having Britney Spears on How I Met Your Mother might have paid off as it led to the highest ratings for the season and greatly increasing its chances for renewal. Otherwise the episode was a disappointment, with Sarah Chalke (who replace Alicia Silverstone, who was originally planned to appear) having a much more significant role. Britney was undoubtedly added purely for her name and her minor role could have easily been filled by an unknown actress.

I expected more of her role considering her guest appearance on Will and Grace. On Will and Grace she started out appearing to be a conservative but then revealed that this was just an act as she said, “I’m not who you think I am. My real name is Peg. And I’m a hardcore lesbian. I’m into leather play, butch white girls, skunkin’, pullin’ the blinds, and poodle balling. Whatever you got, I’ll eat it, snort it, or ride it, baby.” Imagine Barney’s reaction to this type of Britney Spears character.

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SciFi Friday (Sunday Edition): Lost, Torchwood and Jericho Head Towards Finales; Hugo Nominees Announced

It is certainly a relief that the writer’s strike ended and Lost didn’t end the season with Meet Kevin Johnson. Seeing Michael’s story after leaving the island was probably the least interesting of the episodes this season. We did learn a couple of things. The island was capable of keeping Michael from committing suicide even after leaving as there were still things for him to do (unless he just got lucky in the auto accident and Tom told him this hoping it might dissuade Michael from trying again.) For the moment I’ll accept Tom’s claim considering that we also saw Jack’s suicide attempt get interrupted. Besides probably verifying the supernatural nature of the island, seeing Tom also provided further evidence that the Others can come and go from the island. This still leaves the question as to why Ben did not seek medical attention for his tumor off the island.

One mystery that was definitely settled was the identities of the Oceanic Six. The promos for the episodes after Lost returns from hiatus did reveal that Aaron is one of them. I bet that the producers purposely spread information that Aaron wasn’t one of them so that we wouldn’t know that it wasn’t possible for both Jin and Sun to have returned home.

We might have received a little information with regards to other mysteries which are to be revealed later this season. While far from certain, the top theory right now as to who is in the casket in last season’s finale has to be Michael. Once he returns home on the freighter he presumably will be able to commit suicide without interference from the island as his work will have been completed. That assumes that he survives after Sayid has exposed him to Captain Gault.

The bigger mysteries regard Widmore’s reasons for sending the freighter, whether he really intends to kill those on the island, and who really set up the faked Oceanic 815 on the bottom of the ocean also remain. While we’ve heard characters make claims as to what is going on, I don’t think we can trust what anyone says regarding this until more answers are revealed at the end of the season.

Torchwood aired Something Borrowed, featuring Gwen’s wedding on BBC America. Three additional episodes have aired on the BBC. From Out of the Rain is pretty much a stand alone episode, but it does briefly mention Jack’s past. It was an ok episode, but the two following it were much better. Adrift (picture above) shows more of what the rift has done, as well as how Jack has responded. There’s also a game of naked hide and seek. (Jack cheats.)

Fragments, the second from last episode of the season, is particularly worth looking forward to (or downloading) as it reveals how everyone got involved with Torchwood, even Jack. Torchwood as portrayed on Torchwood has always differed from how portrayed on Doctor Who, and this episode attempts to reconcile this by making reference to the destroyed Torchwood London as a different organization. This still does not account for all the discrepancies between Doctor Who and Torchwood but nobody expects either show to be entirely realistic.

Jericho is heading towards a civil war, but it will have to be wrapped up quickly. The show has been canceled and therefore they will be going with the finale which (hopefully) wraps things up. After the show was canceled last season fans grabbed on to a line about nuts in the finale and convinced CBS to give the show another shot by sending in tons of nuts. This time I wonder if CBS executives are insisting that the finale involve silver dollars, Cuban cigars, or perhaps crates of Dom Perignon.

Besides Jericho, it is now official that The Bionic Woman will not return. While not definite, chances are looking good for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to be renewed. SciFi Channel has also given the go ahead to the pilot for Caprica, the prequel series to Battlestar Galactica, which returns on April 4. Doctor Who will be returning to the BBC on April 5, with shows being broadcast in the U.S. on the SciFi channel beginning April 18. The SciFi Channel will also begin airing The Sarah Jane Adventures on April 11.

The Hugo Award nominees have been announced. Here’s a partial list:

Best Novel: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon, Brasyl by Ian McDonald, Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer, The Last Colony by John Scalzi, Halting State by Charles Stross

Best Novella: “Fountains of Age” by Nancy Kress, “Recovering Apollo 8″ by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, “Stars Seen Through Stone” by Lucius Shepard, “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis, “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe

Best Novelette: “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairytale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang, “Dark Integers” by Greg Egan, “Glory” by Greg Egan, “Finisterra” by David Moles

Best Short Story: “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter, “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear, “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken MacLeod, “Distant Replay” by Mike Resnick, “A Small Room in Koboldtown” by Michael Swanwick

Best Related Book: The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Glyer; Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium by Barry Malzberg; Emshwiller: Infinity x Two by Luis Ortiz; Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher; The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Enchanted; The Golden Compass; Heroes, season one; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Stardust

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Battlestar Galactica: Razor; Dr. Who, “Blink”; Dr. Who, “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood”; Star Trek New Voyages, “World Enough and Time”; Torchwood, “Captain Jack Harkness”

I’ve previously discussed some of the nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form including Blink, Human Nature, Family of Blood, Razor, and Captain Jack Harkness. I’d give the award to Blink, but the other nominee from Doctor Who comes very close.

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SciFi Friday (Sunday Edition): The Oceanic Six, Jericho, SNL, and the Disappointing Return of Amy Sherman-Palladino

This week Lost fooled us until the end with Sun in a flash forward and Jin in a flashback. We also found, to nobody’s surprise, that Michael (now Kevin) is Ben’s spy on the freighter. The producers had said that we would know all six members of the Oceanic Six after this episode, but being Lost there remains controversy as to who they really are. The five definite members are Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, and as of this week, Sun.

There are several possibilities for the sixth. If Jin had been rescued and then died he would have still been the sixth, but his tombstone shows he “died” the day of the crash. As the tombstone is a fake this leaves open the question as to whether he really died or had to remain on the island. It did seem like he was actually dead when Sun and Hurley spoke of him at the end, but there could be misdirection there.

Michael (Kevin) and possibly Walt remain possibilities, but as they got off earlier most likely they have a different cover story or new identities. Aaron could be the sixth, but the producers had said he isn’t in one of the Oceanic Six during one of the podcasts on the show.

There are a couple of more unusual possibilities. We know Ben is alive and off the island in the future. Possibly he left the island assuming the identity of someone else. We certainly know he is capable of obtaining fake identities. It is less likely he would ever go with the people on the freighter. There have been suggestions that Christian Shephard really is alive and perhaps they claimed he was a living passenger on the flight. If so, then perhaps Jack wasn’t just calling for his father as a result of being drunk in last season’s finale.

Jericho is quickly moving towards the season finale, and it is not yet decided if this will also be the series finale. Ratings have not been very good so I do not expect it to survive. At least it looks like the show can go out with a good ending. The problems with Goetz are now resolved, although the repercussions of his killing remain to be seen. Most likely the final episodes will center around fighting the Cheyenne government and trying to expose the role of Jennings & Rall in the nuclear attacks on American cities.

The fourth season of Battlestar Galactica begins Friday, April 4th. If you aren’t up to date, the third season of Battlestar Galactica will be out on DVD on Tuesday. The stars of the show will be doing the Top Ten list on Letterman on Wednesday.

There were seven Harry Potter books, but there are going to be eight movies. The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is being divided up into two movies. The first part is scheduled for November 2010 and the second part for May 2011. The Harry Potter movies are now the most financially successful film series in history, having surpassed the James Bond series after only five movies.

The Martha Jones trilogy has concluded for those watching Torchwood on BBC America. The next episode, Something Borrowed, features Gwen’s wedding, including an uninvited guest, and some alien sex.

Tracy Morgan responded to Tiny Fey’s recent “editorial” on SNL’s Weekend Update supporting Hillary Clinton because bitches get things done. Morgan responds by saying, “Bitch may be the new black, but black is the new president, bitch!” Morgan also questioned Clinton’s qualifications by saying, “I want to know what qualifies Hillary Clinton to be president? Is it because she was married to the president? If that were true, then Robin Givens would be heavyweight champion of the world.” Raw Story has the video and full transcript.

Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose star in 'Jezebel James'

The Return of Jezebel James premiered on Friday, marking the return to television by Amy Sherman-Palladino after she left Gilmore Girls. Like Gilmore Girls, the new show begins with two women whose relationship differs from the traditional nuclear family. In The Return of Jezebel James Parker Posey has her estranged younger sister, Lauren Ambrose, to be a surrogate mother as she is unable to have her own baby.

Perhaps the show will develop over time, but there was no sign of the dialog and relationships which gave Gilmore Girls its strength. Under the best of circumstances it would be tough for Amy Sherman-Palladino to recapture the success of Gilmore Girls. I fear I watched half expecting Parker Posey to be Lorelei Gilmore. It was even more confusing with Lauren Ambrose as I couldn’t decide if she should be Rory Gilmore or if she should be Claire Fisher, her role on Six Feet Under. Either way, this was certainly a waste of Ambrose’s talent.

Reviewers have said that the second episode is better than the pilot so I will give it another chance, but this show won’t last long without considerable improvement. Perhaps A S-P should concentrate on writing a satisfactory finish to Gilmore Girls to make up for the season done without her.

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SciFi Friday: Deaths, Spoilers, And It’s Very Stressful Being an Other

There’s some major spoilers here in case anyone is behind with their television watching, especially with regards to Jericho. The show is increasingly becoming a conflict between the people of Jericho and the Cheyenne government. We find that Jennings & Rall (think Halliburton) was involved in the nuclear attacks, setting themselves up for future success. The first battle of the rebellion against Cheyenne took place with Bonnie getting killed, but not before she did shot several of Goetz’s people. The final three episodes should be interesting.

Another female lead might also have been killed on another show. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles wrapped up the season with a cliff hanger in which Cameron is in an exploding car. I can’t get too worried about her fate. If she isn’t successful in rebuilding herself after the explosion, another cyborg of the same model could be sent back in time to replace her. I’d be far more worried about the fate of Kyle Reese, now that we’ve seen him as a child if Skynet should ever find out who John’s father is.

Lost returns to flash backs as opposed to the recent flash forwards. The episode is officially about Juliet, but in many ways provides more information about Ben. Just when we thought he was as creepy a guy as possible, he out does himself in taking Juliet to see Goodwin’s impaled body. The best line of the night had to be when Juliet explained why she was seeing a therapist by explaining, “It’s very stressful being an Other, Jack.”

We also learn why some of the people from the freighter have gas masks, and fortunately it turns out that Ben was misleading everyone else about their plans.  Next week we will learn who Ben’s spy on the freighter is, and it is made clear that we know who it is. The most likely candidate is Michael, but I wouldn’t rule out Walt considering how time is different on the island compared to the outside world.

Recently the actors had the opportunity to ask the producers some questions and some minor spoilers were revealed.  The season will end by revealing the deal the Oceanic Six makes to get off the island, and we will also discover the identity of the person in the coffin at the end of last season.

There are a number of rumors floating around regarding Doctor Who and Torchwood. Rumor has it that if David Tennant leaves after next season, The Doctor will regenerate into Robert Carlyle of The Fully Monty. 

I really hope this rumor regarding Torchwood is not true. They’ve been trying to make the show more “family friendly” with the move to BBC-2 this season. The rumor is that they are going to make it even more family friendly for season three and write out regular cast members including John Barrowman, Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori. Eve Myles would return as Gwen and Freyma Angeman would return to Torchwood as Martha Jones.

There’s also a minor spoiler about Heroes. Eriko Tamura, who played  Hiro’s 16th-century love interest, is going to be brought to the present for next season. The plans were delayed by the strike.

24 was also delayed by the strike, with the entire season postponed until next year. Due to the long gap there are now plans for a two hour television movie to air next fall to bridge the two year gap between seasons six and seven.

There is another movie being rumored. The owner of the strip club which was used to film the scenes at Bada Bing on The Sopranos  says he is holding off renovations on the club after getting a tip that there might be a Sopranos movie. HBO denies this, and we don’t even know if Tony remained alive after the finale.

And, finally, Ausiello has a guess as to who ultimately becomes the mother on How I Met Your Mother. He reports that Alicia Silverstone has been cast in a multi-episode arc, playing a doctor who dates Ted. The show has not officially been renewed for next season, and the produces have promised that we will see Ted’s eventual wife before the series ends. He speculates that Silverstone will be identified as his future wife, keeping the promise to show her before the series ends should it not be renewed. Knowing Ted, I wouldn’t be surprised if he dates Silverstone, breaks up, and then meets his eventual wife at the time of the break up. 

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SciFi Friday Part II: The Week in Review

Lost has benefited greatly from centering the final seasons around telling a story with a definite end point. They have also avoided using the exact same format week after week. This week’s episode got away from telling about one of the Oceanic Six in the flash forwards and instead dealt with Desmond, who is unstuck in time. There was even a brief homage to Billy Pilgrim from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, who was also unstuck in time.

We find that Desmond’s situation isn’t unique. Every episode lately tries to end with a surprise which is consistent with the events of the episode. This week’s ending suggests that Daniel Faraday’s problem is similar to Desmond’s as we see an entry in his notebook saying, “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant.”

The episode also verifies the earlier hints that something strange is going on with time. The helicopter with Desmond and Sayid left the island at dusk and landed mid day, with those on the island finding a delay which did not surprise Faraday.

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Jericho is becoming increasingly political, with some aspects of the United States resembling Iraq, and other aspects containing allusions to the Bush administration. We’ve already seen that the Cheyenne government is pushing a new flag, a new Constitution, and even a new right wing history. This week’s episode has many comparisons to Halliburton and Blackwater with Jennings & Rall being involved in everything, including government functions. Meanwhile Ravenwood is being used as a private army. Does it mean anything that the new government and Dick Cheney both come from Wyoming?

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles remains mixed in quality but is doing an interesting job of applying aspects from the original movie series to current plot lines. A new twist is being added as it is unclear if the cyborg Cameron (Summer Glau, above) can be trusted. The final two episodes of the season are being aired as a two-hour episode on Monday.

Torchwood as aired on BBC America remains behind the BBC showings, but delaying SciFi Friday at least allows me to comment on the more recent episodes while avoiding spoilers for episodes which have not aired yet. Last week’s episode, Adam, involved an alien who lives off of false memories planted in others. He gives the members of the Torchwood team false memories of him having been one of them for years, but in the process disrupts their memories and changes them. Gwen loses all memory of her fiancè Rhys and thinks he is a stalker when she finds him in her apartment. Owen undergoes the biggest change, becoming a real geek. The most dramatic actions come when Adam gives Ianto false memories of being a serial killer after Ianto notes that there is no mention of Adam in his diary.

The episode might be most notable for providing information on Jack’s childhood, but those memories, as well as all other memories involving Adam, must be removed in order for Adam to be eliminated. At the end nobody has memories of Adam but there are clues that he had been there. I did find it a little unrealistic that they would not want to investigate the last couple of days which were missing from their memories.

This week’s episode, Reset, works in three different groups which are involved in studying aliens. Besides Torchwood, there’s UNIT which lends a medical specialist, and there’s a medical center which uses aliens in an unsafe manner to attempt to cure human diseases. The UNIT medical specialist happens to be Martha Jones, who finished medical school very quickly after returning from her adventures with The Doctor. The episode ends with Owen being shot, which will lead into the events of the subsequent two episodes which have already aired in the U.K.

Looking at television beyond science fiction, Saturday Night Live has managed to be in the news several times after returning last week. Last week’s episode began with a skit based upon the Texas debate, which Hillary Clinton mentioned during the Ohio debate (video above). There was some controversy over having a non-black cast member play Obama’s role. The episode also included a defense of Clinton by Tina Fey who argued that it is bitches who get things done. Mike Huckabee also had an appearance.

This week they began with another debate in which Clinton argues that she can get the most done by being so obnoxious that people will just give up on opposing her. This is followed by an appearance by the real Hillary Clinton (video here). Rudy Giuliani also had an appearance in which he compared his campaign to a Saturday Night Live skit which starts out strong but goes nowhere. The musical guest was Wilco, a big supporter of Obama.

There’s good news for fans of Scrubs. While NBC has never shown the show much respect, ABC is now negotiating to pick up eighteen episodes to allow the series to be completed as planned.

A high definition trailer for the Sex and the City movie is available on line here. We find that Carrie and Big do get engaged, but things might not go well at the alter. Charlotte is pregnant, as was seen in earlier pictures, and Steve admits to Miranda that he cheated on her once.

The Other Boleyn Girl opened to mixed reviews. Any movie with both Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson can’t be all bad. There’s one minor coincidence I noted in the cast when comparing this with Showtimes’s version of the story, The Tudors. Scarlett Johansson appeared in the Woody Allen movie Match Point with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Henry in The Tudors.

Season two of The Tudors begins on March 30. During season one, Mary, followed by Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer), worked to seduce Henry. Anne always found ways to ensure that Henry would not be satisfied until they married, as can be seen at the end of season one. Video is available here (definitely not safe for work).

One of the things I watched during the strike was the DVD set of Arrested Development. It is certainly understandable that there were a lot of protests when the show was canceled. Plans have now been announced to make a movie version of the show.

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