SciFi Weekend Part 2: The Best of 2014

Part 1 of SciFi Weekend looked at shows from the past week, including Last Christmas, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special. Part II lists some of the top and most improved shows of the year. The point is not really to rank them so much as to highlight shows worth watching. Really, how do you compare Cosmos to Penny Dreadful? I am at a disadvantage compared to professional television critics as I have neither the professional obligation nor time to watch nearly everything. Therefore this is limited to the shows I have actually watched, and I will address this after the first list.

Rather than list the overall best shows, as most sites are doing, my first list will be limited to shows which premiered in 2014. Lists of all the best shows drive out most of the new shows, and I’m sure you are aware of Game of Thrones by now. I have limited this to shows available in the United States, including a couple which were primarily British shows but available here on cable or streaming. This list is not limited to genre but is biased by my preferences.Therefore Jane the Virgin (CW), listed by many television critics among the best of the year, did not make the list as, regardless of its quality, I still stopped watching after a few weeks due to the large number of quality shows which I’m more interested in.

Top 15 New Shows Of 2014

About A Boy

15.  About A Boy (NBC)

Family friendly sitcoms (or actually sitcoms of any nature) have not done very well on the networks recently. For that matter, relatively few network shows made this list at all. About A Boy, the second attempt to adapt the Nick Hornby novel, finally gets it right, also being a rare case of the television version being better than the movie version. The shows combines saccharin and snark, and can be highly entertaining in episodes where it gets the right percentage of each. Besides an excellent regular cast, Adrianne Palicki of Friday Night Lights and Agents of SHIELD has had a recurring role.

14. The Knick (Cinemax)
Think of this Steven Soderbergh show as being like ER, except set early in the 20th century. I don’t know if they got all the facts right, but it is an authentic look at medicine of the era.

13. Black-ish (ABC)
Another of the rare successful sitcoms premiering recently. It came along at just the right time, when Bill Cosby is no longer on his pedestal

12. Penny Dreadful (Showtime)
Imagine if the main characters of classic horror novels all lived in the same city and interacted with each other. I am  hopeful of an even better second season now that the main characters and situations were introduced.

11. Silicon Valley (HBO)
Comedy is doing much better on cable than network television these days. Silicon Valley does a great job of mocking the tech industry.

The Honorable Woman

10. The Honorable Woman (BBC Two/Sundance)
The original story has the feeling of what it might be like if John le Carré were to write a spy novel on the middle east directly for television.

9. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (Fox)
Neil deGrasse Tyson was inspired by Carl Sagan as a student. Now he tries to cure some of the scientific-illiteracy which has become a serious problem in this country.

8. True Detective (HBO)
The story had moments of brilliance, and moments when it dragged, but the performance by Matthew McConaughey earned it a spot on most top ten lists.

Transparent

7. Transparent (Amazon Prime)
Jeffrey Tambor leads an excellent cast in a story about an already dysfunctional Jewish family which now must deal with the father coming out as trans-gender. This is the story which Jill Soloway has been wanting to do since Six Feet Under, and she does an excellent job.

6 .Last Week Tonight (HBO)
This new comedy take on the news came along at the right time, with Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update being awful with the loss of Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert ending his show. John Oliver has done a better job than many others who have attempted to satirize the news with in-depth segments which are likely influence opinions.

5. The Flash (CW)
The best of this year’s attempts to enter the superhero genre. Lighter than Arrow but so far this season more compelling with its ongoing story line.

4. Happy Valley (BBC One/Netflix)
This British crime mystery does a far better job than most of the American counterparts, being far more successful than most other attempts at combining  the personal story of the main character with the mystery.

3. The Affair (Showtime)
Showing the events before the murder from the perspective of two people involved in an affair is a gimmick which works well for the story. When their stories differ are we seeing failings in memory, one or both characters lying, or even the plot of one of the protagonist’s novels?

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2. You’re The Worst (FX)
The best new comedy in ages, with an often hilarious look at a couple of flawed individuals, frequently skewering millennials. The show is especially impressive in both gradually developing the supporting characters and telling a story over the course of the season. The season can easily be watched in one or two sittings as one of the best romantic comedies to come along in years, even by those who normally don’t like romantic comedies. It might also be worth rewatching this time of the year as a reminder of how good television can also be educational, showing why it is not a good idea to plug a vibrator into a string of Christmas lights. The more you know.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo in the Emmy award-winning series Fargo

1. Fargo (FX)
A dark comedy and crime drama which does justice to the movie which inspired it, and easily stands on its own. There is both outstanding writing and an excellent cast led by Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, and Colin Hanks.

Honorable Mention:
Among shows which did not make this list, and which aren’t mentioned elsewhere in this post, there are a some other good shows with a genre element: Gotham (Fox), Outlander (Starz),  How To Get Away With Murder (ABC), The Last Ship (TNT), Leftovers (HBO) (which has made many lists of both best and worst of the year), and Resurrection (ABC).

Some of the new genre shows which were left off this list were intentionally omitted.  Extant (CBS) might have made at least honorable mention if they stuck to the story of the AI child and stayed away from the ludicrous alien plot. Some shows couldn’t be ranked as I have not seen them, but reliable sources have recommended others to me which very well deserve to be highly ranked, and which I will hopefully catch up on later. These include The 100 (CW) and Manhattan (WGN). There are also two limited run shows which I have recorded and have heard excellent things about but have not seen yet: Olive Kitteridge (HBO)  and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (PBS).

Most Improved Shows Of 2014

Some shows do better in their first year, often due to first raising a situation, but are not able to sustain the quality for a second season. Sleepy Hollow (Fox) has not been able to maintain the quality of the first season, but perhaps it will improve now that they appear ready to move on to a  new storyline. Orphan Black (BBC America) also couldn’t maintain the quality of the first season, when everything was still a mystery, but still remains better than most shows on television. House of Cards (Netflix) also did not have as great a second season as first but remains worth watching.

There are six shows which many consider better in their second season, or at very least did not deteriorate a bit going into their second season, listed in alphabetical order:

Agents of SHIELD (ABC)
The show was mediocre until Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released. It became much better late in the first season as it mirrored the movie developments, and has become even better this season as it is now ahead of planned Marvel releases.

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The Americans (FX)
This was one of the best television shows of 2013 when it premiered, and was even better in its second season. The season was successful for both its season-long mystery and for how it combined the personal and professional lives of the main characters. It did one thing far better than other shows such as Homeland: making good use of a teen-aged daughter.

Arrow (CW)
The second season of Arrow started in 2013 but extended into 2014, allowing the show onto this list.  The second season surpassed the second season. The third season, starting in fall 2014, isn’t as good, but I’m still hoping it will return to the level of the second season.

Hannibal (NBC)
It is just amazing that a show of this quality can be shown on network television.

Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Actually a close call between the first and second season, with both worth watching.

Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
Another example of a great show becoming even better in its second year, as the show successfully went beyond Piper to tell major stories with other characters.

Once again this list is limited to shows I have actually watched. Based upon recommendations from others, I hear that Rectify (Sundance) was another show with an excellent first season and an even better second season in 2014.

There are a couple shows which might not make a list of the best of the year, but these two shows which improved tremendously from their pilots in 2014:

Selfie Karen Gillan John Cho

Selfie (ABC)
The pilot was awful and the show never recovered, but it has gotten much better over the course of the season. Unfortunately this wasn’t soon enough as the show was canceled. The remaining episodes are being shown on Hulu and, with one left to go, have been worth watching.

Married (FX)
This show initially received more hype than You’re The Worst which followed it, but it was soon apparent that this was by far the weaker of the two. Still Married did manage to improve after a weak pilot and, being on cable during the summer when low ratings were expected, was able to survive to get renewed for a second season.

While I concentrated on second season shows in order to provide more coverage to relatively new shows in the list above, there are a few longer-running shows which have improved this season which are worth noting, also in alphabetical order:

Homeland (Showtime)
The show was at its best with the Brody storyline of the first season and they managed to stretch it out through a second season. The third season was just too much, and they finally let it go. The fourth season was mixed as they tried to reestablish the show with only a cameo from Damian Lewis in a hallucination. Some episodes dragged, including the season finale, but there were also some excellent moments during the season. Homeland not only must contend with the loss of Brody. Now it being criticized by Pakistani officials who are furious about how their country was portrayed.

New Girl (Fox)
I had stopped watching around the time that Nick and Jess were getting together, but heard it is much better with the two broken up but saying dumb things to each other, and I have resumed watching.

Person of Interest (CBS)
This was a good show from the start but every season gets better as the show has successfully transitioned from a procedural mystery of the week with a genre gimmick to a true genre show, which is also topical with current controversies over surveillance.

I added the networks to the show listings after I compiled these lists and find it notable that FX has the top two new shows along with one of the best shows of 2013. As expected, HBO and Showtime are well represented, with CW also doing quite well. Amazon has joined Netflix as a valuable streaming service with original shows. The broadcast networks are represented, partially due to having some successes among the larger quantity of original programing than any other source, but are frequently being beaten in quality by cable and streaming sources, which in some cases are owned by the broadcast networks. Showtime and CW now have better shows than CBS as FX has better shows than Fox.

SciFi Weekend: The Flash; Arrow; Gotham; Sleepy Hollow; Agents of SHIELD; Person of Interest; Doctor Who; Selfie; 12 Monkeys; Renewed Shows; Utopia; Gracechurch; Red States & Pornography

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 The Flash was off to an excellent start last week. It looks like it will be a lighter version of Arrow but has started to set up an interesting back story. There’s the death of Barry’s mother in the past and the episode ended with a look into the future which raises the question if they plan their own version of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. We don’t know for certain that the future will play out as suggested:

“Time travel is going to play a big part in the overall series, but one of the things that we will discover is that time is mutable,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says. “As the good Doctor says, time can be rewritten, so not everything you see on the show is necessarily what’s going to come to pass and not necessarily everything that’s happened is fixed.” In other words, that newspaper’s headline could change.

Presumably their version will not include the death of Barry Allen. The final scene also revealed that Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) can walk, contrary to what was previously suggested. Is his name supposed to bring H.G. Wells and time travel to mind? With Tom Cavanagh’s character able to walk, this also leaves open the possibility of returning to his bowling alley (Ed).

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Returning genre shows such as Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, Agents of SHIELD, and Person of Interest have all returned to strong starts. Arrow returned with a very brief romance between Oliver and Felicity along with  (major spoiler ahead)  an unexpected death, which I bet will ultimately lead to Laurel taking over as Black Canary. Thanks to flashbacks, this won’t be the last we see of Sara. The episode also introduced Ray Palmer, who has now taken control of Queen Consolidated. While Gotham has premiered, Arrow remains by far the best television adaption of Batman ever aired.

While still early, Gotham does look  promising. It essentially feels like a comic book world without the superhero. Jim Gordon serves as the superhero, even if lacking either superpowers of the special abilities of characters such as Batman or Green Arrow. In a city where virtually everyone else appears corrupt, just fighting for justice and being the rare good guy is enough. Hopefully the can continue to work in a storyline with young Bruce Wayne without it appearing too contrived.

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What makes Sleepy Hollow so much fun is how theye can have both a conspiracy linking Judas, Benedict Arnold, and events in the current episode, mixed with such humorous scenes as last week with Ichabod learning about how our banks work and getting confused about men wearing hats indoors (but not gays).

Ichabod : Is that considered acceptable now?
Abbie : Oh, lots of attitudes have changed since your days, not everyone’s but supreme court has upheld the constitutional right of same sex couples, and more and more states are even legalizing gay marriage
Ichabod : I meant gentleman wearing hats indoors, I know about homosexuals thank you, I trained under Baron von Steuben. His affections for his own sex were well known. Also, I watches the finale of Glee.

Even when in the midst of the big conspiracy they still don’t take things too seriously, such as with Nick Hawley not getting too worried about the apocalypse they were trying to prevent. After all, every civilization has their own apocalypse story.

Last week had another strong episode of Agents of SHIELD with a new role for Simmons. They are making far better use of both Fitz and Simmons than last year. Presumably the real Simmons, as opposed to the one in Fitz’s head, will appear intermittently while undercover at HYDRA. It would probably appear too contrived if they run into her every episode.

Person of Interest is also off to a great start after a semi-reboot, placing the major characters in new situations. I am hoping they do more with the big issues of surveillance and artificial intelligence as the season progresses, rather than number of the week shows.  There is the danger that the reboot won’t matter as they have quickly made things similar to before with the establishment of a means to communicate, a new base, and a new source of money.

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Steven Moffat had a line in The Big Bang with a call about an escaped Egyptian goddess on the Orient Express in space. With the substitution of a mummy for the Egyptian goddess, this premise turned into this week’s episode of Doctor Who, Mummy On The Orient Express. Perhaps some of the plot holes and unanswered questions from Moffat’s stories will ultimately be answered if we wait long enough.

We don’t know who Gus, who masterminded the situation, really is, but perhaps this will be answered at a later date. I also wonder if there is more to Perkins, and if he will be seen again. I am also curious as to whether this episode was planned at the time of The Big Bang. I suspect that it might have just been an idea in Moffat’s mind, which he later altered because he could not resist the line, “Are you my Mummy?”

The episode also included themes from previous episodes, including jelly bellies and the Doctor talking to his previous regenerations. In keeping with themes from this season, the mummy was a soldier. There was progression in the Capaldi Doctor’s attitude. He still had no qualms about watching people he considered to already be doomed die in order to gain information, (“Old ladies die all the time.It’s practically in their job description.”). However, he also substituted himself for a potential victim. In the end, he used the TARDIS to save everyone.

The Clara storyline was handled in a strange manner. Last week it looked like she was done with the Doctor, leading to speculation that this might have been done to set up a solo adventure. Instead Clara was present, yet they teased that this might be their last trip together. If Clara was planning to leave the Doctor, why did she go with him on the Orient Express? After so much teasing that she would no longer travel with the Doctor, she changed her mind quite quickly at the end. I also continue to wonder what type of cell service the Doctor and his companions have which allows them to communicate not only with each other regardless of where they are, but back with earth in the present. Personally I can lose cell service if I wander too far from the cell extender I found necessary to purchase to set up a cellular hot spot in my own house.

The Doctor Who Extra is below:

I had mixed opinions from the pilot of Selfie but obviously I was going to give any show staring Karen Gillian and John Cho a second chance. I’m glad I did as the second episode was much better. Pilots can be a poor way to judge a series as the pilot has the burden of setting up the situations. In addition, changes for the better are sometimes made in shows between the time a pilot is shot and the show goes into regular production.

While there are some excellent genre shows in the fall, summer was weaker on broadcast television. CBS has shown a commitment to mediocre summer science fiction, renewing both Under the Dome and Extant.

Still no word from Showcase regarding Continuum.

ABC has given a full season pick up to two of their better new shows of the season, How to Get Away With Murder and Blackish.

12Monkeys

IO9 reports that Syfy’s television version of 12 Monkeys, which begins in January, will be different from the movie, taking the aspects they like and changing others, like their previous reboot of Battlestar Galactica. It sounds like it might be an intelligent time travel series based upon their review of the pilot:

What the pilot really proved was that this is a show not afraid of the complications of time travel. It does not slow down and explain to the audience its fractured timeline, save for a few title cards in the beginning. Ivanek gives a speech at the end of the episode that wholly relies on the audience being quicker on the uptake about time travel tropes than the characters.

The pilot also builds in a lot of space in the characters’ backstories to fill in later. And you actually want to know about them. you want to know how Stanford got to be in a position where he was picked for his mission. You wonder endlessly about how Railly can get from where we meet her to where she ends up. There’s more than enough to carry more episodes.

An old CBS science fiction series us returning. Legendary TV is working on a rebooted series of Lost in Space. Hopefully they can improve upon the original with the reboot as Battlestar Galactica did.

Utopia Jessica Hyde

Channel 4 has canceled Utopia after its second season, which was one of the better genre shows over the past summer. HBO is planning a remake with David Fincher directing. He is again working with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), who has written the scripts for the new series. While I often question making US remakes of recently aired British shows, such as with Broadchurch,I am curious to see Flynn’s take on this story.

As a consequence of lacking the time for all the genre and quality television shows now on (a welcome problem and change from the past), I have not watched Gracepoint, having already seen Broadchurch. For the benefit of others in this situation who are debating whether to watch, I have found that most reviewers are saying that the early episodes of Gracepoint are very similar to Broadchurch, and where they differed Broadchurch did it much better. Both version star David Tennant. Reviewers are also saying Gracepoint begins to diverge from Broadchurch in the seventh episode. The producers have teased that the ending might be different, so at this point the reviewers I have read (who have not seen beyond this point) do not know how significant the difference from the seventh episode will be.

And, finally, yet another study shows that people in red states are more likely to search for porn:

A new study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, produced by researchers from Canadian Universities, found American states that identify as more religious and conservative are also more apt to search for sex online. Of course, the study makes a point of separating the religiously conservative from the politically conservative. The latter is more likely to look for sex specific terms, such as “gay sex, free porn and xxx,” whereas those that consider themselves religious were looking for generalized sex terms that could’ve theoretically fallen under the “health and wellness” category.

In heavily religious states, abstinence is often pushed as the only safe sex, with very little to offer in the way of sexual education. Unfortunately, that leaves a growing number of people with questions about sex but no answers. Enter Google: the best way to find an answer to personal, possibly embarrassing questions without calling attention to yourself. So of course the study finds that religious communities have a higher percentage of sex-related searches. That’s what happens when you can’t find it elsewhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Renewed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selfie - Episode 1.01 - Pilot - Promotional Photo

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

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

Arrow Olicity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; The Fall; Crisis; Orphan Black; Continuum; History of Science Fiction; HIMYM; Gotham; Agent Carter; SHIELD; The Americans; Under The Skin; Under The Dome

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Hannibal has now become a courtroom drama, with Will Graham on trial for the murders committed by Hannibal. We appear to have another murderer out there, but without Will investigating we never get into the new murderer’s head and do not even know their identity. Is Hannibal also committing these murders in an attempt to free Will and regain him as a (manipulated) friend? Hannibal was forced to admit that there were some differences in how the murderer was operating. Hannibal would know better, unless this was part of a bigger plan.

Another favorite scene in the trial was the return of Freddie. She first seemed to bury Will by saying that Abigail had confided in her that she was afraid Will  might kill and cannibalize her. The defense then asked Freddie how many times she was accused of libel (six) and how many times she settled (six), quickly discrediting her testimony.

Assignment X has an interview with Mads Mikkelsen:

AX: Did you watch any of the earlier incarnations of Hannibal?

MADS MIKKELSEN: I think we all watched that, growing up, right? We were certain from the beginning that we could not detach ourselves from the character. Obviously, he’s a man who loves anything beautiful – beautiful music, beautiful people, beautiful wine – so we had to address that, but we had to detach it from what Anthony did. Obviously, it would be creative suicide to go down his path. He was so wonderful, and if you try to copy something like that – but I think any actor would make it his own, regardless of if it’s me or somebody else, but it was a conscious choice that detached us.

AX: Can you say what you’re bringing to Hannibal?

MIKKELSEN: A lot of it is already in Bryan’s scripts. He’s already given life to the character to a certain degree, and then it’s up to me to step into those shoes. As I said before, any actor would color it somehow, and I’m coloring it – I’m trying, to a degree, to make him human. What he does is absolutely not human, but his emotions are true and honest.

AX: You’ve compared Hannibal to Lucifer. Is he becoming more Luciferian or less Luciferian as you go along?

MIKKELSEN: He is Lucifer. He is the fallen angel. The thing about him is that he’s honest – he’s honest with his emotions regarding Will. He’s having a hard time here trying to regain his friendship. That’s uphill, of course. But that’s his main target in this season.

AX: Do you think Hannibal qualifies as a psychopath by regular psychiatrist standards, or is he something else?

MIKKELSEN: I don’t think he is a psychopath. I mean, reading about psychopaths, they normally have a traumatized childhood or something they’re struggling with. He doesn’t have that. He’s as happy as you can get. He’s a happy man. I have rarely given life to a character that is as happy as him, I must say.

AX: What would you say Hannibal’s relationship is like with his erstwhile psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia du Maurier, played by Gillian Anderson?

MIKKELSEN: That’s obviously a very unique and kinky relationship that they have, and we will address it a little more in this season. I think she has been a very important partner for him, in a sense that we will see a different side of Hannibal, and he will be quite emotional with her to a degree. Why he’s doing that, we don’t know. And I think that’s just his little space of freedom where he can be what he is.

Gillian Anderson is gone from the series for now, busy with two other series. She has begun filming the second season of The Fall for BBC2, a series well worth watching (and available in the United States on Netflix). Another series, Crisis, begins on NBC tonight with some  initial reviews being very favorable. Entertainment Weekly has more on the show.

Gillian Anderson had a great response to a question posed on Reddit:

Question: My question is assuming your character is made into a gourmet meal by Hannibal what type of food would you want to be made into?

Gillian Anderson: Something so rich that he’d choke on it and die.

EW Orphan Black

Orphan Black has put BBC America on the map (and cover of Entertainment Weekly) with one of the top genre shows of all time.Tatiana Maslany spoke about one of her clones being gay:

Even while Orphan Black received praise for the diversity of its characters, there was some debate online about the decision to have Cosima be gay, because If she has the same genetic code as her clone sisters, does that mean the show is implying that she chose to be gay as opposed to being born that way (since other clones like Sarah and Alison appear to be heterosexual)? Absolutely not, says the woman who plays her. “By no means are we saying that Cosima chooses to be gay,” says Maslany. “It’s by no means that. It’s just that there are so many biological factors into the mother’s womb, into the conditions of the womb. So much of the research I was doing about clones was about identical twins, right? Identical twins would actually be closer in expression than clones because clones are birthed from different wombs. And there’s so much information that gets fed through the mother. I think we’re not saying anything about that in terms of choice and biology or whatever. We’re saying more that everyone could be anything.”

I think we have to give the show some leeway being fiction and not try to use it as actually revealing anything about the genetics of sexual preference. More from the interviews at Screen Rant.

Spoiler TV has information (and video) on a new clone to be introduced in the second season:

A brand new season of Orphan Black means a brand new clone. And we have all the intel on said clone right here! Meet Jennifer Fitzsimmons, a 28-year old teacher and swim coach. And you are about to meet Jennifer the same way Cosima does, through a series of video diaries that Cosima discovers while researching her own respiratory illness.

Amazon has obtained exclusive streaming rights to Orphan Black, along with Hannibal, and the first season is available if you missed it.

Besides their science fiction drama, BBC America will also be airing a show on The Real History of Science Fiction beginning April 19:

From Star Wars to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and from Jurassic Park to Doctor Who, each program is packed with contributors behind these creations and traces the developments of Robots, Space, Invasion and Time. Narrated by Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who writer, actor, and co-creator of the BBC’s Sherlock, the series determines why science fiction is not merely a genre… for its audience it’s a portal to a multi-verse – one that is all too easy to get lost in.

Among those taking part are: William Shatner (Star Trek), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Chris Carter (The X-Files), Ronald D Moore (Battlestar Galactica), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock), David Tennant (Doctor Who), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust), Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy), Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise), Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness), Syd Mead (Blade Runner), Kenny Baker (Star Wars), Anthony Daniels (Star Wars), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Peter Weller (Robocop), Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica), and many more.

The four part series will be divided into episodes on Robots, Space, Invasion, and Time.

Continuum - Episode 3.01 - Minute by Minute - Promotional Photos (5)_FULL

Continuum returns tonight on Showcase, but American audiences who resist the temptation to download the episode will have to wait until April 4. I certainly intend to get a hold of the earlier (and uncut) episodes after aired on Showcase. I will warn of any spoilers before the American showing. Some Spoilers have already been released prior to the first episode of the season, but presumably nothing which truly spoils the episode. Those who want to know nothing might want to skip the rest of this section which discusses what I have already heard.

The first episode, Minute By Minute reportedly reveals who the Freelancers really are, and someone new  joins up with them and gets the tattoos. Kira teams up with Garza, which comes as little surprise considering the changing alliances we have seen. As suggested in the second season finale, Alec goes back in time to try to save Emily, and reportedly there is a lot of timey wimey stuff with potential end of the world consequences. With time travel involved, other dead characters do return. The first ten minutes have already been released in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbdOVrqHuCU

The Marvel vs. DC feud will heat up next year, this time in the movie theaters. Both Captain America 2 and the next Superman vs Batman movie will be released the weekend of May 6, 2016.

CBS has renewed The Big Bang Theory for three more seasons. Bazinga!

Cristin Milioti has called the theories that her character dies on How I Met Your Mother “some crazy conspiracy theories, which actually just makes me really love the fans more,” but never actually denied the rumors.  The show runners also dodged the question at PaleyFest. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is intentional misdirection, but if there is some other surprise at the end. The cast will also be appearing on Inside The Actors Studio later this month prior to the series finale on March 31.

Gotham

Fox has released more information on their upcoming series, Gotham:

Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?

“Gotham” is an origin story of the great DC Comics super villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (“The Mentalist,” “Rome”), “Gotham” follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.

Growing up in Gotham City’s surrounding suburbs, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, “Southland,” “The O.C.”) romanticized the city as a glamorous and exciting metropolis where his late father once served as a successful district attorney. Now, two weeks into his new job as a Gotham City detective and engaged to his beloved fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards, Open Grave, “Breaking In”), Gordon is living his dream – even as he hopes to restore the city back to the pure version he remembers it was as a kid.

Brave, honest and ready to prove himself, the newly-minted detective is partnered with the brash, but shrewd police legend Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Terriers,” “Vikings,” “Copper”), as the two stumble upon the city’s highest-profile case ever: the murder of local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne. At the scene of the crime, Gordon meets the sole survivor: the Waynes’ hauntingly intense 12-year-old son, Bruce (David Mazouz, “Touch”), toward whom the young detective feels an inexplicable kinship. Moved by the boy’s profound loss, Gordon vows to catch the killer.

As he navigates the often-underhanded politics of Gotham’s criminal justice system, Gordon will confront imposing gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith, The Matrix films, “HawthoRNe,” Collateral), and many of the characters who will become some of fiction’s most renowned, enduring villains, including a teenaged Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (acting newcomer Camren Bicondova) and Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor, “The Walking Dead,” Another Earth).

Although the crime drama will follow Gordon’s turbulent and singular rise through the Gotham City police department, led by Police Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara, “Burn Notice”), it also will focus on the unlikely friendship Gordon forms with the young heir to the Wayne fortune, who is being raised by his unflappable butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, “Camelot,” “Elementary”). It is a friendship that will last them all of their lives, playing a crucial role in helping the young boy eventually become the crusader he’s destined to be.

captain-america Agent Carater
Collider has spoken with Captain America screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeel  about how they envision the planned Agent Carter series. From this description, I’m more hopeful about this show than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Here are the key points reported:

  • ABC has the script for the pilot but nothing is greenlit yet.
  • Markus and McFeely have recently spoken to Hayley Atwell and she is very interested in doing the show.
  • Howard Stark would be a recurring character, not a series regular.  This is assuming Dominic Cooper would be willing to continue to play the role.  I’ve spoken to him about this and he seemed very interested.  But this was a few months ago and things change.
  • The show would start in 1946, sort of in the middle of the timeline of the One Shot.  McFeely said, “We can’t get her to the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. that fast.  We wanna stay in that world longer where people are disrespecting her and she’s proving herself and going on missions and things like that.”
  • Unlike most network shows that are 22 or 23-episode seasons, Markus and McFeely think Agent Carter should be a limited series with a maximum of 13 episodes per season.  McFeely said, “[13 episodes] is how this is envisioned, maybe even less… That’s my hope, is that it would be something like [Under the Dome].  Our case would be that it would be a limited series and you would wrap up that one bad guy and that one case, and then if you like it we’ll do it again next year and it’s 1947.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did have one of its better episodes of the season with the Thor crossover, guest staring Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif. While both a big event for the show and entertaining, the storyline still showed the weakness of the show. If they knew that Lorelei had the ability to control men, why would they have not one but two of their male agents wind up in a position where she could so easily take them over. Plus that plane of theirs has to be the least secure government facility in existence. Last week’s episode did also advance the storyline of Coulson’s return from the dead and this continuing storyline is a plus for the show.

THE AMERICANS -- The Walk In -- Episode 3 (Airs Wednesday, March 12, 10:00 PM e/p) -- Pictured: (L-R) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings -- CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

While entertaining, S.H.I.E.L.D looks like a bunch of armatures compared to the KGB in 1982. The Americans had another solid episode. Elizabeth showed she can be far more threatening than any S.H.I.E.L.D. agent as she terrified a janitor into getting her some information. Luckily for him, he stumbled upon Elizabeth’s weak spot when he showed her pictures of his children. It saved his life, but I doubt he will ever talk. Paige went do track down “Aunt Helen,” who Elizabeth was supposedly with while recovering from her gunshot wound. While the KGB was ready for this with a fake Aunt Helen complete with a picture of Elizabeth and Paige on the wall, I wouldn’t put it past Paige to ultimately bring down their entire spy operation. The episode also had a satisfying answer to my question last week as to why Nina told Stan about the walk-in by Bruce Dameran. Building up Stan by allowing him to kill Dameran is expected to be of more value to the KGB than any information they might have obtained from Dameran.

The episode also showed why the series works despite having KGB agents as the protagonists. Much of the episode dealt with family matters, including a letter from Leanne to Jared written years earlier in the event that she and Emmett were killed, so it didn’t matter that it was dealing with Russians. The subplot with Stan and Dameran, while a victory for the KGB, also involved Stan preventing an assassination, something which American viewers could root for. The scenes with Elizabeth and the poor janitor were so dramatic that it was easy to ignore the fact that they also involved American secrets falling into KGB hands.

Scarlett Johansson

The Guardian has an interview with Scarlett Johansson about her role in Under the Skin. In this portion she discussed why she wanted to take the role:

It’s one reason, presumably, that she took the part, though I’m curious to know the details. There’s only about three lines of dialogue in the entire film, so it can hardly have been the standout script. The main point of her character is that she doesn’t actually have a character. She’s an alien. She doesn’t do emotion. And it was filmed in Scotland. In winter. And most of the film consists of her standing around in wet boots and a too-thin coat. Or stripping off her clothes in a derelict squat and luring men into a vat of black ectoplasm. (At one point, she appears naked. Johansson fans, of which there are many, most especially the male variety, have been lighting up message boards for months with discussion of this particular fact.)

So why, of all the scripts she must get sent, did she decide to do this one? “I heard Jonathan was making a film and originally it was a very different story. But I met him, and it was very clear that he was struggling to figure out what he was doing with it, and what had attracted him to it. It wasn’t his passion project but there was something in the idea of having a character that was an alien that could give him the freedom to be completely observant without any judgment. I think we were both interested in that. I thought it would be incredibly challenging to play a character that’s free of judgment, that has no relationship to any emotion I could relate to.

“And for me, at this point, I think it much more interesting for me to look at something and know that I can play it, but not know how, rather than to look at something and go, ‘Ah, I can do that.’ And then just do it.”

The story also touched on other roles, including genre movies such as Captain America and Her.

The above trailer has been released for the second season of Under the Dome. The first episode will be written by Stephen King–hopefully he can get the show back on track. Executive producer Brian K. Vaughan says “The second season is going to take us to places where the book never got to go . Stephen King gave us some ideas we never imagined.” Two new characters will be introduced, Junior’s uncle who had been hiding out and a young school teacher. Two characters from the first season will be killed in an apparent law of conservation of characters. Early opinion from fans is that killing off just two characters is not enough. Maybe they could do this every week.

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John Cho of the two Star Trek remakes and Sleepy Hollow has been cast as the male lead in Selfie, the upcoming sit-com staring Karen Gillan of Doctor Who.

Selfie, a modern take on My Fair Lady and inspired by the musical, centers on 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.

Cho will play self-assured, successful marketing expert Henry, who is a different breed from today’s social media-addicted society. As a challenge, he decides to “remarket” his coworker Eliza. He joins an ensemble that already includes Allyn Rachel, Tim Peper, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and David Harewood. Casting for the regular roles is now complete.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Starts Filming; Karen Gillan Takes Manhattan; Sophia Miles Rumored To Replace Gillan; Game of Thrones and Man Men Returning Soon; Star Trek Sub-Plot On Big Bang Theory’s100th Episode

Filming on the second Star Trek movie by J. J. Abrams began on Thursday with a scheduled release date of May 17, 2013.

Paramount Pictures announced that principal photography has commenced in Los Angeles, CA on the sequel to STAR TREK from director J.J. Abrams. The film will be released on May 17, 2013 in 3D. The 2009 re-launch of the “Star Trek” franchise by Abrams was met with critical acclaim and a worldwide gross of over $385 million at the box office.

Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions present a Bad Robot Production of a J.J. Abrams Film. Returning to their posts on the Enterprise are John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, and Anton Yelchin. They are joined by new cast members Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve and Peter Weller.

Based upon “Star Trek” created by Gene Roddenberry, the film is produced by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The script was written by Alex Kurtzman & Robert Orci & Damon Lindelof.

More information is available at TrekMovie.com.

While waiting for the movie, here’s a way to make your house sound like the Enterprise. Or perhaps you’d prefer to work on developing a working Tricorder and win a prize.

We’ll Take Manhattan, a movie about 1960’s model Jean Shrimpton, will broadcast on BBC4 in January. The trailer is above. The Guardian had a feature on both the movie and its star–Karen Gillan.:

We’ll Take Manhattan is a portrait of a photogenic love affair, but lit with flashes of class anxiety and period misogyny. While Shrimpton is portrayed as a beguiling ingénue, a muse who says little but looks great, Bailey (played by Aneurin Barnard) is the domineering, hostile “artist”, who shouts threateningly at women, uses Shrimpton and forgets his wife. I’ll say it – Bailey comes off like a bit of a dick, doesn’t he? Gillan’s eyebrows raise. “Oh!” she says. “Umm. Well. He’s not polite,” she agrees. “He’s cocky, he’s arrogant. But he adores her. He puts her on a pedestal. He likes her imperfections.”

When David Bailey himself shot Gillan and Barnard for a Vogue feature last year he sent her back to the make-up chair twice, saying: “Her eyes should be rounder and sadder.” In the film he tells her he likes her eyes with shadows underneath, after she’s been awake all night crying over him. “Like I said, as a model you are powerless, but the two of them collaborated on the work.”

Does Gillan think Shrimpton comes off as strong, in the relationship? “Models are talked about, not to. That’s still the way it is. But Jean walked out on her dad [when he objected to her affair with a married man] which shows she had bite. I think she was fierce. Quietly fierce.” Gillan grins. She says she identified most with the pre-Bailey Shrimpton, “a girl on the brink of becoming a woman. Playing her has taught me I’m stronger than I thought I was, and to appreciate the opportunities I’ve got – she was one of the ones who pursued a career, one of the ones who changed things for people like me.”

A missing radio script for a proposed Doctor Who radio series from the 1960’s has been found. More information here. Russell T. Davies is working on a new show which is being described as Doctor Who meets Harry Potter.

There are rumors flying on Twitter regarding the next companion for the Doctor after Amy Pond leaves. Sophia Myles from The Girl In The Fireplace is rumored to be returning. It would not be the first time someone has returned to play a different character on Doctor Who. From Blastr:

As all of us Whovians know, the Doctor, played by Matt Smith, lies (that’s rule number one). And so does Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. So when this one tweet teases hints at a (possible) character’s return to the long-running sci-fi series, we should take it with a pinch of salt, right?

The Daily Star is reporting that actress Sophia Myles (Moonlight, Spooks, Thunderbirds) is now being touted as the Time Lord’s next companion.

Why is that?

As we said, the whole thing started when Steven Moffat tweeted this tiny bit here: “Right EVERYBODY who follows me, go and follow @SophiaMyles – spin that fireplace. NOW.” He also added “I’ll explain later. Or not.”

StevenMoffatTweet.jpg

If that wasn’t enough, the whole thing became even more mysterious when Myles herself tweeted back: “Watch this (fire)place,” and “The plot thickens…”

HBO has announced that Game of Thrones will return on April 1. Mad Men will resume on AMC on March 25.

TrekMovie.com has some spoilers about the 100th episode of The Big Bang Theory which includes a Star Trek sub-plot:

In The Big Bang Theory’s 100th episode “The Recombination Hypothesis” the main focus is how Leonard and Penny may get back together. However Sheldon has his own subplot, focusing on how his order for some Star Trek merchandise has gone wrong. According to a tipster, Sheldon orders a Star Trek Spock life-size cutout, but when it arrives he is not happy. Sheldon was expecting it to be a cutout of the Leonard Nimoy Spock, but he gets Zachary Quinto’s Spock instead. Apparently Sheldon isn’t a fan, exclaiming “Zachary Quinto!? Live long, and suck it!” Sheldon’s disappointment factors into a later scene, when he tries to accept the new Spock.

SciFi Weekend: True Blood Season Finale; Super Geek to Guest on Big Bang; Patrick Stewart Closes Door on Jon Luc Picard; Megan Fox on SNL; and Dollhouse Sneak Peak

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The season finale of True Blood has aired, resolving the major storyline but leaving many open for next year. (I’ll leave out the specifics for those who might not have viewed the episode yet.) The finale ended by setting up season three, the search for Bill.  Before the finale aired, TV Squad interviewed Alan Ball. Here are some of the questions:

I asked my TV Squad readers what they wanted me to ask you, and one of their main questions involves the books. Some feel the show doesn’t follow the books closely enough. Your thoughts on that?

I think a book and a television show are two different mediums. If I were to follow the books, it would be all about Sookie, because Sookie narrates the story, and the other characters would rarely even show up. Jason would come into the bar and hug her in an attempt to make people think he loves his sister so he can pick somebody up. Tara wouldn’t even have existed until this season, and she’d be white. Lafayette would be dead.

So all I can say to those people is, it’s based on the books, but it’s not a literal adaptation of the books. I’m doing what I think is the best way to turn that story into a television show. Also, if I just stuck to the books, there would be no surprises. You could go pick up the books anywhere and know exactly what was coming. So personally, I don’t see any benefit of making a carbon copy of the books for TV.

Will Eric be a bigger part of the show in season three? Will he and Sookie get together?

I can’t tell you if they’re going to get together, because that’s going to ruin the anticipation. But, if you’ve been following season two, he’s definitely been doing things to make her more vulnerable and more susceptible to him. And he does want her, he’s just not sure why. I think it’s deeper than just, “I want her because Bill Compton has her.” Although that’s part of it, because Eric is a total alpha-dog.

Yeah, that opening scene in “Frenzy” [of Eric and Sookie in bed together] was cool, but it kind of made me feel bad for Bill. I’m as big a fan of Eric as the next girl, but between him and Bill, it would be a tough choice!

They’re both vampires, and they’re both deadly, so there’s that. It’s the classic good boy/bad boy. The good boy, he’s great, but the bad boy … you can’t stop thinking about him.

I’m always prepared to be shocked and awed every episode, and I am. Can you tell us anything about season three?

Well, the book is out there, so I’m not giving anything away when I say that we’ll meet the Vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington. And we’ll encounter werewolves for the first time in the flesh; we’ve heard about them, but we’ll meet them. I’m very excited about the character of Debbie Pelt. She’s bad news.

Since I haven’t read the books, who is that?

Debbie Pelt is the ex-girlfriend of a guy who’s helping Sookie try to find Bill, and she is just hard ass, white trash bitch on wheels. She’s so much fun. But there are other great characters, too. Everybody is struggling with identity in season three – What am I? Who am I? What is my life? Is it what I want it to be? How do I make it what I want it to be? What are my real values? And some people are like, “Am I human? I always thought I was, but maybe I was wrong.” In one particular case, its like, “Yes, honey, you were wrong.”

Is that Sookie? Is she part faerie? Can you tell me that?

I can tell you that Sookie is not 100 percent human. She is now aware of that.

After the white-light thing with Maryann.

Yes. She doesn’t know what she is, but she knows that it’s not totally human.

Do you believe in the supernatural?

I certainly believe that what we perceive as humans is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t necessarily believe in vampires or werewolves or that kind of thing, but I believe there is definitely a realm we don’t necessarily have access to. I don’t know what it is, and I hesitate to articulate it further than that, because I have no idea what it is, but I know it’s there.

TV Guide interviewed Michele Forbes who gave some clues abut the finale before it aired:

So, we learned from Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne that Maryann is actually a maenad. What the heck is that?
A maenad is also known as the raving one or the wild one. They’re mythic creatures in Greek mythology who followed Dionysius and Bacchus and revel in chaos and destruction. They drink wine, have sex and have no boundaries. That excess is their quest for purity. As they sing their praises to their god, they hope that he comes.

And how can she be destroyed?
Once she believes the god is finally coming, that will be her vulnerability. Or shall I say her Achilles’ Heel.

The whole town of Bon Temps is gunning for Maryann. Should we be worried for her?
Sure. The whole town does want her gone. She has the whole town in her clutches except for a few stray ones like Sam and Sookie. Her final goal is to grab everyone so that she can achieve her goal. But she should have cause for caution.

big-bang-theory-reduzido

Wil Wheton announced on Twitter that he will be guest staring in an episode of The Big Bang Theory: “An announcement of extraordinary magnitude: I will be on an episode of #thebigbangtheory this season. That’s all I’m allowed to say. GLEE!”  Wheton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation (but don’t hold that against him–he didn’t write the role) and is author of Just A Geek, making him a natural for the show.

Ain’t It Cool News reports that Iron Man 2 might be filmed in 3D.

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USA Today took a look at Flash Forward, the upcoming show based upon Robert Sawyer’s novel:

The premise centers on a two-minute, 17-second blackout that strikes the world’s population, followed by crashes, deaths and other disasters that result from the global unconsciousness. During the blackout, almost everyone has a vision — a flash-forward — six months ahead, to April 29, 2010. 10 p.m. PT, to be exact. Some are welcome, and some, including the wife’s vision of the lover, are not.

The task is to find out what happened and if the flash-forward prophecies will, or must, come to pass.

“We are the only species that thinks about the future,” says executive producer David Goyer, whose writing credits include Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. “It’s the blessing and curse of being human.”

Joseph Fiennes, who plays FBI agent Mark Benford, centers a team assigned to solve the blackout that includes partner Demetri Noh (John Cho); colleague Janis Hawk (Christine Woods); and their boss, Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance). They and the other characters, including Benford’s surgeon wife, Olivia (Sonya Walger), share their visions, but viewers see only bits and pieces at first, leaving twists and turns to be explored.

And “some people lie about their flash-forwards, so it’s a little misdirection happening,” Vance says. “It leaves the writers enormous latitude to tell stories.”

Of fall’s new shows, FlashForward most closely fits the definition of the serialized epic, a sweeping tale mixing action, suspense, mystery, romance and melodrama. “It’s a buffet,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone) says. “To reach the widest audience possible, you need to have that spice. You have to have that wide variety.”

The best current example of the big, bold serialized mystery: ABC hit Lost. Fox’s 24 incorporates many of those elements, though each season is self-contained. Fox’s paranormal Fringe tries to temper its serialized elements, mixing long-term story with shorter, weekly ones. And ABC launches a remake of alien-invasion serial V in November.

Professor-Xavier

Patrick Stewart says he might play Professor Xavier again but not Jon Luc Picard:

In a talk show interview setting, Stewart fielded questions about his career and memories of his tenure as captain of the Enterprise. He was barely aware of “Trek” when he got the role and was “guaranteed” by friends and others that the show wouldn’t work.

He discussed how horribly uncomfortable the show’s uniforms were originally, leading his doctor to contact the production office demanding that they be changed.

When asked about fellow convention guests Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, Stewart talked about how much he respected Nimoy. As for Shatner, he paused and said, “He’s a piece of work, isn’t he?”

He was also particularly pleased to be able to recall the plots of some favorite episodes mentioned from the titles.

When the discussion turned to “X-Men,” Stewart, who had a cameo as a younger Professor Charles Xavier in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” said that from what he had heard, audiences have probably not seen the last of the professor. He mentioned he recently co-starred in a production of “Waiting for Godot” with Ian McKellen and the two agreed that they would like continue exploring the relationship between Xavier and McKellen’s “X-Men” character Magneto.

As for that other franchise, Stewart thought that this summer’s reboot of “Star Trek” was “terrific,” but didn’t see a future for Jean-Luc Picard in the franchise, leaving open only the possibility that he would agree to do a cameo in a sequel. Stewart mentioned a proposed final “Next Generation” film, but after the disappointing box office for “Star Trek: Nemesis,” it never materialized.

“I feel that I have left behind a legacy as Picard,” he said. “In my head and heart, I’ve moved on.”

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Megan Fox of Transformers will be guest host of the season opener of Saturday Night Live on September 26.

A sneak peak has been released of the second season of Dollhouse:

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek XI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Barack Obama, Superhero; Sarah Connor Rumors; Flash Forward; The Prisoner; and Jack is Back

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Barack Obama  will appear on the cover of a special issue of Spider-Man to be released on January 14. Peter Bart of Variety calls Barack Obama America’s last Action Hero.

There’s no new “Spider-Man” or “Iron Man” on the immediate horizon, but the superhero genre is alive and well. As evidence, consider next week’s inauguration.

Historians cannot remember a moment when a president has arrived amid such lofty expectations. Barack Obama will not simply be sworn in; if he’s not careful he will be enshrined.

Back in 1932, there were vague hopes that Franklin Roosevelt might help solve the Great Depression, but FDR was an unprepossessing patrician who spoke funny and sat in a wheelchair. Voters were more puzzled than expectant.

But today, in the eyes of the world, Barack Obama is nothing short of the Last Action Hero. (He even makes an appearance in a bonus issue of the “Spider-Man” comicbook coming out on Jan. 14.)

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Later Bart describes what Obama can learn from the superheroes:

If Barack Obama is going to bring this off, perhaps he should take note of a few of the traits of the superhero fraternity.

“Iron Man’s” gift is that he has a strong moral compass. And he knows how to handle the military-industrial complex (it’s part of his family).

“Spider-Man’s” relevant gift is that he can swing from situation to situation with amazing dexterity, never quite leaving a mark. That’s good politics.

“Batman” is smart at choosing his battles. And, as he reminded us this last outing, he’s damn good at generating box office. Obama take note: Ticket sales are like votes.

We can skip “Superman.” His outfit is a bit embarrassing and his ambiguities toward women keep getting in the way.

Will the superhero franchise come through for Barack Obama? Anyone who starts off with a trillion-dollar economic package needs all the showbiz tricks he can mobilize.

There are lots of rumors going around regarding upcoming events on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Reportedly Jon meets his father, Kyle Reese in an upcoming episode. I assume that either this will be on a diffrent time line from the movie series, or maybe this will be an eariler trip back in time (from Kyle’s perspective) prior to the events of the first Terminator movie. Reportedly Riley did not die as it appeared at the mid-season cliff hanger, but such an outcome of a cliff hanger would hardly be a surprise.

Shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have problems building an audience as many potential viewers are reluctant to come in on a story in progress. At the start of the season a decision was made to make each episode more of a stand-alone story. I doubt this would matter in a series such as this which has developed such a detailed mythology that new viewers would still have trouble keeping track of what is going on. Now they have decided to return to a more serialized format, which probably will work better in a series of this type.

Sci FI Wire interviewed Brannon Braga on his planned show Flash Forward based upon the novel by Robert Sawyer. the show is planned to follow Lost and will even have one actress in common with roles on both shows–Sonya Walger.

Brannon Braga, the onetime Star Trek executive producer, says that his ABC sci-fi pilot Flash Forward—in which the Earth’s inhabitants have a simultaneous glimpse of their futures, then must live with the consequences—is designed to reset itself each season, starting with a new flash and ending when the premonitions come true.

“Yeah, the structure’s not dissimilar from 24 [on which Braga is a co-executive producer], and we want to reset the show at the end of each year, where we’ll do another flash forward at the end of the first season, and then potentially another flash forward at the end of the second season, each one kind of resetting the core characters’ visions of the future and introducing new characters,” Braga said in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Hollywood premiere party for 24‘s seventh season, which kicks off this weekend.

Braga—who developed Flash Forward with producer/writer/director David Goyer and Goyer’s wife and producing partner, Jessika Borsiczky Goyer—adds: “One of the cool things about the show is you have 5 billion potential storylines. And we plan to tell the stories of people all over the world. Obviously they’ll be focused on mainly people here in L.A., but we’re going to go all over the place.”

The pilot follows a group of characters around the world who have to deal with the consequences of a 2-minute, 17-second glimpse into the future. The series is loosely based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel Flashforward.

“The core concept is very much the same as Robert Sawyer’s novel,” Braga says. “That was the impetus for it and the idea of the entire world blacking out at the same time for a discrete amount of time, and everybody on Earth having mysterious visions of the future. Same idea. Obviously, to do a TV show, you have to sustain potentially—and God willing—100 episodes or more; you’ve got to change the concept a little bit. His novel had people having visions of the future 20 years from now. We change that to five months from now and kind of narrowed down the scope a little bit and made it a little bit more of an intimate epic. But essentially the concept is the same.”

The show features an ensemble cast, led by Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger, John Cho, Christine Woods, Jack Davenport and Courtney B. Vance, and is envisioned as a companion to Lost. Goyer directs the one-hour pilot, which goes into production in February in Los Angeles.

“We just finished casting the pilot right before the holiday, and we just went into … official prep on it two days ago, so David is busy getting ready to direct, and we’re going to shoot it next month, right after President’s Day,” Braga says.

Ultimately, the show will deal with the theme of free will vs. fate, Braga says. “Absolutely,” he says, adding: “Thematically that’s what the show is about, for sure. Yeah, and seeing how these people’s visions come true or not come true or come true because they tried to not make it come true. Some people want it to come true. Some people don’t want it to come true. It’s a fascinating concept. We’re very excited about it.”

Sci FI Wire has information on the reimagined minseries, The Prisoner, which AMC will air next November:

American Movie Classics has shot a six-hour miniseries re-imagining of The Prisoner for modern-day audiences. One of the biggest changes in this re-imagining is that Six is now American, played by Jim Caviezel.

“I don’t think it makes any difference,” director Nick Hurran said in a press conference Jan. 8 in Universal City, Calif. “It’s a mixed-nationality cast. It’s a very global Village. I think we accept that now. We’re so used to a society being of every culture, every race, that it would have been quite parochial to go and do a British thing.”

This Village is set in the middle of a desert, as opposed to the seaside Village of the original. “Epic is absolutely the right word,” Hurran said. “The vistas that this prison gives, setting it in the Namibian desert or the nonspecific desert that we don’t know where it is, the character Six runs away to get free, to escape, and just keeps running and keeps running, and there is more sand than I have ever seen in my life. It gets to places you never knew you had.”

The desert turned out to be a production nuisance when the filmmakers had to re-create location shoots in Namibia. The majority of production was based in Cape Town, South Africa. “My overriding memory of this production is sand, no matter where we were,” Hurran said. “It returned, even in South Africa, when we had to try and re-create some locations to make them look like they were still in the Village. We needed to import sand and carefully, painstakingly lay it across the streets of Cape Town. Unfortunately, Cape Town’s very windy, and the wind certainly blew and blew all of the carefully laid sand about 100 meters into front yards and people’s letterboxes. So sand remained with us forever.”

Die-hard fans of the original Prisoner will notice some familiar tidbits. “There are a number of, of course, homages that the keen eye will see in what’s said and what’s worn, in pieces of architecture,” Hurran said. “Of course, there are a number of salutes that we made to the fantastic piece that was created. I think it would be a shame to take it to the next generation and not acknowledge what an extraordinary piece of work that was. [It’s] enigmatic, I think slightly less surreal, but it is as bizarre, in a good way.”

The big event today is the first of two two-hour episodes of 24 airing today and tomorrow to start the season. Sci FI Wire gives eight reasons why 24 is really science fiction.

SciFi Weekend: What Summer Glau Does After Dark; Dexter Captured; Caprica Ordered; and Dutch’s Killer to be Revealed

When Terminator: The Sarah Connor Adventures began I was fearful that the stories would primarily involve chase scenes and fights as Sarah tried to keep Jon safe. The show has moved well beyond such stories, and has increasingly been playing around with the ramifications of time travel. This week’s episode answers the question of what Cameron (Summer Glau) does at night since, as a cyborg, she does not sleep.

Cameron spends her nights doing research, and stumbled upon a picture which showed that a terminator wound up in the wrong year when going back in time. Cameron ultimately pieces together what was changed by his actions and what he has planned for the future. It might not be entirely realistic that she could figure out as much as she did and I might be disappointed if this story was central to the series. For one episode I was willing to accept what Cameron accomplished and found it enjoyable.

The episode was a nice change of pace from the usual episodes but one problem with weekly television shows is that they feel obligated to bring in most of the major cast members. The episode would have been stronger if it dealt entirely with Cameron. Besides, so far I’m not impressed with the Riley and Jon story line. If Riley really is a resistance fighter from the future who has reason to keep Jon save, many of her actions to date are questionable.

It is unusual for me to be watching Dexter one week at a time. I watched the first two seasons in a very short time. For the second season, we watched a few episodes during the week and then one Saturday evening my wife and I sat down for a marathon session, winding up staying up all night to watch the entire season. Watching that way you don’t have periods of a week to contemplate what will happen next.

Last week’s episode ended with the Skinner capturing Dexter, with unexpected involvement by Miguel. Now I’ve had the week to try to guess how Dexter gets out of it. He might escape on his own, either by overpowering the Skinner or perhaps by using his knowledge of Frebo’s fate to influence him. Dexter might also be rescued by others. Debra has been after the Skinner and might track him down in time to save Dexter. Another long shot is that Miguel, in another attempt to manipulate Dexter rather than kill him off, could save Dexter. Plus, what happens now that Maria has reason to suspect that Miguel was involved in Ellen Wolf’s murder?

Dexter wasn’t the only one that was captured at the end of a genre show this week. On Fringe Oliva has also been kidnapped. The problem is that, while I still have some curiosity as to where J.J. Abrams is going with the show, I don’t really care all that much about what happens to her. As I believe I’ve said before, they are going to have to start revealing more of interest about what is going on in order to keep the interest of viewers for much longer.

The SciFi Channel has ordered twenty episodes of the Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica:

The drama, which kicks off with a two-hour pilot movie, stars Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson and Polly Walker.

Set 50 years before the events in Battlestar Galactica, Caprica follows two rival families–the Graystones and the Adamas–as they grow, compete and thrive in the vibrant world of the 12 Colonies, a society recognizably close to our own.

Enmeshed in the burgeoning technology of artificial intelligence and robotics that will eventually lead to the creation of the Cylons, the two houses go toe to toe in a series that blends action with corporate conspiracy and sexual politics.

Back in September I mentioned plans for a television series based upon the novel Flash Forward by Robert A. Sawyer. John Cho, who plays Sulu in the upcoming Star Trek movie, is in negotiations to co-star.

A couple of weeks ago I reported that Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, and Pushing Daisies were all to be canceled. There’s somewhat good news for fans of the first two. Ausiello reports that there will be satisfying series endings for DSM and Eli Stone:

Unlike Daisies, DSM and Eli had the time and money to produce what an ABC insider describes as “satisfying series endings.” DSM will finally answer the question, “Who whacked Dutch?” (brace yourself for a killer twist), while Eli wraps with what my source describes as a “powerful scene between Eli and his father.”

Last month I reported rumors that John Hamm of Madmen might be appearing in 30 Rock as Liz Lemon’s love interest. It looks like this rumor is true, with Hamm already having filmed a couple of episodes.

Sylar might have killed off Elle on Heroes this week, but there is hope of seeing Kristin Bell back in her better role. There’s still rumors of a Veronica Mars movie down the road, but at the moment Rob Thomas is busy with other projects. He told Ausiello:

“I haven’t gotten far on my VM movie outline,” he tells me. “I thought I had the idea broken, but I’ve hit a wall in the final act that I haven’t quite figured out. And with Cupid and Party Down occupying 80 hours a week, and a new baby boy occupying the remaining hours, I haven’t nailed it down. I’m hopeful that I can find the time to figure it out over the Christmas holidays.

SciFi Weekend: Seven Doctors; Star Trek Backs Hope & Change; The Week’s Shows; and Candidates Meet SciFi

All the surviving actors who have played The Doctor are reportedly going to appear together in a Doctor Who will return for a special mini-episode for the Children In Need charity night. Last year Peter Davison appeared with David Tennant in Time Crash (video here). Comic Book Resources has some rumors about Doctor Who, including Tom Baker returning to a role on the show and a possible name for the next Doctor:

My last couple of Doctor Who leaks were fairly solid — Neil Gaiman to write 2010 “Doctor Who” and Tom Baker returning to the series proper in an unnamed role. Both have been bubbling under ever since. The next one is not so tied down. It’s still rather up in the air. But it’s quite a possibility.

The sixth series of “Doctor Who” (2011) will star Paterson Joseph as The Doctor.

Previously playing Roderick in the “Doctor Who” episodes “Bad Wolf”/”Parting Of Ways,” Joseph is known for fine upstanding and terribly-well-spoken-dontcha-know roles as Johnson in “Peep Show,” the Marquis De Carabas in “Neverwhere,” Space Marshall Clarke in “Hyperdrive,” Lyndon in “Green Wing”…

…and more importantly Benjamin in “Jekyll.” Written and produced by upcoming “Doctor” Who showrunner, Steven Moffat.

If true, it’s a great call on Moffat’s part. A damn fine call. Paterson has a very British Authority approach to many of his characters, comparable with Jon Pertwee. It’s not a traditional choice, but then neither was Christopher Eccleston. And, like I say, it’s bloody brilliant.

The upcoming Star Trek movie made the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Considering how far Star Trek has fallen in recent years, the reboot by J. J. Abrams is probably our best shot of reviving the series. Still, I have reservations about how he will go about it. These reservations were increased by this passage:

Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of a Star Wars guy. ”All my smart friends liked Star Trek,” he says. ”I preferred a more visceral experience.” Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount’s offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ”that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.” That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ”We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek‘s] appeal,” says Weston. ”Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn’t going to work.”

Star Wars type action would do better at the box office, but that is not what Star Trek is about. If Star Trek is turned into this type of mindless entertainment it is not worth reviving. Still, having a major movie might lead to a revival as a television series. Star Trek has always been at its best as a television series, and a revived series has a far better chance of being true to Gene  Roddenberry’s vision than an individual movie. There is also some hope for the movie as the paragraph after the one quoted above goes on to say:

Abrams says he was also drawn to the project because he believed in — and wanted to evangelize — Trek‘s unabashed idealism. ”I think a movie that shows people of various races working together and surviving hundreds of years from now is not a bad message to put out right now,” says Abrams, whose infectiously upbeat energy and disdain for cynicism are among his most marked attributes.

There are some spoilers regarding the plot of the movie:

Star Trek‘s time-travel plot is set in motion when a Federation starship, the USS Kelvin, is attacked by a vicious Romulan (Eric Bana) desperately seeking one of the film’s heroes. From there, the film then brings Kirk and Spock center stage and tracks the origins of their friendship and how they became officers aboard the Enterprise. In fact, the movie shows how the whole original series crew came together: McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoë Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). The adventure stretches from Earth to Vulcan, and yes, it does find a way to have Nimoy appearing in scenes with at least one of the actors on our cover — and maybe both. The storytelling is newbie-friendly, but it slyly assimilates a wide range of Trek arcana, from doomed Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to Sulu’s swordsmanship to classic lines like, ”I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” More ambitiously, the movie subversively plays with Trek lore — and those who know it. The opening sequence, for example, is an emotionally wrenching passage that culminates with a mythic climax sure to leave zealots howling ”Heresy!” But revisionism anxiety is the point. ”The movie,” Lindelof says, ”is about the act of changing what you know.”

The message of Star Trek is also tied into this year’s presidential election:

Is the world ready again for Trek‘s optimistic vision of the future? Some involved with the film suspect the presidential election may have a dramatic effect on how Star Trek will be perceived. ”This is a franchise that offers hope for unity — and so does Barack Obama,” says Quinto, who has stumped for the Democratic presidential nominee. ”When this movie comes out, and Obama is president, hopefully there will be some parallels.” Perhaps, but the elder Spock knows that moments of unity can be fleeting. ”My only regret is that the movie can’t come out sooner,” Nimoy says. ”I think the world could use it. Don’t you?”

Life on Mars hasn’t been doing too well in the ratings but has been receiving excellent reviews. The second episode, like the first, was based pretty closely on the BBC episode, with the show reportedly going to begin diverging more. The potential science fiction aspects of the show are maintained by having Sam consider the various possibilities as to how he is now living in the past. His theories include the eventual explanation in the BBC version, which I won’t mention to avoid spoiling the series. For those who are aware of the explanation on the original, there have been reports that the American version might wind up with a different explanation. This week’s episode also also included brief connections between past and present, from messages in the clouds to a small robotic character.

We had a major advance on the plot, and a major revelation, on Heroes. It appeared that  Linderman (Malcolm McDowell) hired Daphne (Brea Grant) to steal the formula, except it turned out that Maury Parkman (Alan
Blumenfeld) was responsible for both this appearance of Linderman and Nathan Petrelli’s visions of Linderman. This was orchestrated by Arthur Petrelli (Robert Forster) who is on the opposite side of the battle from Mama Patrelli.

The second half of the season will be entitled Fugitives and will add a new member to the cast–Zeljko Ivanek, who won an Emmy for Damages. He will appear as a character named the Hunter who presumably wind up hunting the other heroes, making them fugitives.

On Fringe, Olivia Dunham has visions of John Scott (Mark Valley). While his appearances turned out to solely be in her mind (perhaps similar to Six in Baltar’s mind on Battlestar Galactica.) While only being in her mind, his messages had too much bearing on current concerns to be written off as mere hallucinations. Walter provides a possible explanation that a previous experiment connecting her to Scott’s mind may have imprinted her with his consciousness, experiences, and thoughts.

Is a few brief news items, nine more episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have been ordered to complete the season this year. Mad Men has been renewed for a third season. The concluding ten episodes of Battle Star Galactica will begin airing on January 16.

And finally, there are science fiction connections to the candidates this year. Gawker reports that Sarah Palin  appears in Tales From the Crypt (cover above.) We also learned of a science fiction/comic connection for Barack Obama. At the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Obama joked, “Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”