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

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

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

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

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

Jessica Raine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MICHAEL SOCHA, SOPHIE LOWE

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

Arrow cliffhanger

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

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

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

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

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

BBC America is going for even more genre:

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

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

The Workplace Proximity

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

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

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

Parks and Recreation - Season 6

 

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

Doctor Who

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

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

Peter Davison

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

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

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

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

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

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

marvels-agents-of-shield-shield

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

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

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

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

utopia

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have a finite end for Utopia in mind?

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

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

Trailer for Last Days on Mars posted here.

The cast of Dexter teased the finale.

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

SciFi Weekend: Under the Dome; Hannibal; Continuum Special Effects; Star Trek Broken?; Doctor Who; Arrow; Same-Sex Marriage and DC; Westworld; X-Men and More

UNDER THE DOME

Under the Dome got a little darker, and less believable, last week. There have essentially been three major story lines: Barbie/Julia, Big Jim, and the teens with the mini-dome. The Big Jim and Barbie story lines have now merged, with events surrounding both being rather unrealistic, or at least poorly developed.

Barbie was introduced as a killer, but since then has been the closest we have to a hero on the series. Initially the acceptance of him was difficult to believe. Nobody knew anything about him, but the town made him their hero. Was there nobody else who had been living there who could step up in time of crisis? Eventually Julia did discover the fact that Barbie killed her husband but there were no consequences. Barbie had to promise not to lie again, and their relationship continued. Finding out that Peter Shumway manipulated Barbie to kill him so that his life insurance would pay out hardly exonerates Barbie of his crimes.

Big Jim has been a more interesting character due to both being portrayed as a murderer and legitimately having concern about the people in Chester’s Mill. I would anticipate that if these goals conflicted, Jim would support his own interests. Just as I wonder why there is nobody else in the town to who is as heroic as Barby, I wonder why Big Jim is the only one left from the town’s government. It is not realistic that everyone else was on the other side of the dome.

Things changed suddenly for Barbie and Big Jim last week. Linda was on the verge of discovering Big Jim’s crimes. Then Jim framed Barbie for Maxine’s murder and suddenly Linda forgot both all her suspicions about Jim and ignored her trust in Barbie. Even if the degree of trust in Barbie was somewhat realistic, it doesn’t help matters to ignore what went on before. Besides, Linda did see how Barbie called in Julia’s shooting and Barbie ultimately saved her live. Jim’s claim that Barbie was responsible for her shooting, or the shooting of Maxine, should not have been accepted so easily.

The other story line with the teens gets to the central mystery of the show regarding the dome, but I do fear there will never be a satisfactory answer. Now the dome appears to have told the kids to kill Big Jim. Apparently it does have a sense of justice, or opposition to a questionable story line, but with all its power I would think the dome could do something more directly to take out Jim if that was its goal.

Hannibal-4-NP

Mads Mikkelsen discussed his role on Hannibal. Here is a portion of the interview, concentrating on speculation as to where the series is going:

How much of his real self do you think Hannibal reveals to Gillian Anderson’s character Bedelia Du Maurier?
“It’s very interesting because he doesn’t have to reveal anything… so who’s he doing this for? For her? She’s no threat. For the audience? No – he doesn’t know there is an audience.

“He likes it – he needed to get it out. He needs to get some emotions out and he uses that little session to get it out, even though in the normal world, that would be very f**ked up what he’s doing!

“At the same time, he could be doing it because he wanted to manipulate someone, but I don’t think that is the case right now with Gillian Anderson’s character. But it remains to be seen, because I don’t know where that [situation] is going yet!”

Were you surprised that Will discovered the truth about Hannibal in season one’s finale? Other shows might have dragged that plot out for longer…
“Again, it remains to be seen exactly what he found out. As I see it, we have three opportunities here – three possibilities. One is that Will can’t remember anything because he’s sick, the other one is that he does remember everything and he tells me, and the third one is that he does remember everything but he plays that he can’t remember… and then the table is turned, right?

“So it’s going to be very interesting to see how [Bryan] wants to start the episodes in the new season, but I would be surprised if Hannibal doesn’t know that he knows that he knows! (laughs) Hannibal’s a smart guy!”

Where do you think Hannibal will go in season two? The main threat to him – Will – now seems to have been neutralised…
“Yes, but Hannibal has never had a master-plan – he’s able to change his ‘master-plan’ every day and, as I said before, he just wants to enjoy life and have a wonderful day!

“I still believe that Will is part of his future – one way or the other – and I don’t believe that Hannibal has a master-plan to take over the FBI. He likes the game and he likes the people around him, and he will just see how far he can go with them, I guess.”

Continuum is notable for telling a very compelling science fiction story with a low budget. That doesn’t mean they don’t do impressive things with special effects, as can be seen in the video above. I discussed both the entire series and the season two finale last week. As expected special effects are used for the  high tech world of 2077 along with the expansion of the Vancouver coastline. From the above video we also see how many of the dramatic scenes, including near collisions with trains and cars, also are computer generated.

The J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies were of value in reviving interest in Star Trek and both were fun blockbuster films. Unfortunately they were not really what we think of as Star Trek. TrekMovie.com generated a lot of interest in a recent post arguing that Star Trek is broken. They gave several suggestions as to how to fix Star Trek. Robert Orci responded and overreacted in the comments:

“I think the article above is akin to a child acting out against his parents,” he said. “Makes it tough for some to listen, but since I am a loving parent, I read these comments without anger or resentment, no matter how misguided.

“Having said that, two biggest Star Treks in a row with best reviews is hardly a description of ‘broken.’ And frankly, your tone and attitude make it hard for me to listen to what might otherwise be decent notions to pursue in the future. Sorry, Joseph. As I love to say, there is a reason why I get to write the movies, and you don’t.”

Orci later apologized, tweeting “not my finest moment. agreed. what can I say? i’m more than half human.”

capaldiinterview

There has been speculation on line that Matt Smith’s Doctor might actually regenerate in the 50th Anniversary episode. One piece of weak evidence cited for this was that Matt Smith cut his hair off for a movie before filming the Christmas episode. That theory has fallen apart. It has been announced that filming is to begin September 8 with Matt Smith wearing a wig. We will then have a long wait as the next season of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor will not air until the following fall.

Before the regeneration into Peter Capaldi, we still have the 50th anniversary episode. The Guardian interviewed John Hurt with the discussion eventually getting to Doctor Who:

It’s your 50th year in the business and you are about to appear as the Doctor in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Both of you have had lots of reinventions. Is there a neat link there?

I’d never thought of that, but let’s use it! Oh yes, there’s a huge link definitely. But I had no idea that Doctor Who had got so huge; I just thought, “Brilliant, I’ll be a Doctor!” I was suddenly – what do they call it? You start “trending”. This is all new to me!

Is it a relief you can talk about your role, now that the costume designer let slip to the Prince of Wales that you play a “dark Doctor”?

Of course you have to remember that the Doctors are all one person, so I’m not outside of that. I can’t talk about it, but I will say I was really impressed when I did it. Both the previous doctors – Matt Smith and David Tennant – boy, are they good at it. Whoa-wee! They are so quick, and there’s a huge amount of learning and no time to learn it in. All that fake scientific nonsense. Terribly difficult to learn.

Have you met the Whovians?

I’ve done a couple of conferences where you sit and sign autographs for people and then you have photographs taken with them and a lot of them all dressed up in alien suits or Doctor Who whatevers. I was terrified of doing it because I thought they’d all be loonies, but they are absolutely, totally charming as anything. It’s great fun. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing – I don’t know whether it is or isn’t – but they are very charming.

Arrow Season 2 Poster

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, along with in China, observers would pay attention to material such as photos of Politburo members to decide who was in and who was out. I had a similar feeling reading analysis of the season two poster for Arrow. Apparently Laurel might not be as important and, as has been confirmed in other reports, Felicity has a bigger role.  Buddy TV has more on the second season including the relationship between Oliver and Laurel, new characters, pirates on the island, and a sidekick for the Dark Archer.

DC Comics has forbid portrayal of the planned same-sex marriage for Batwoman leading to the creative staff leaving. This has led to a global backlash.

J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan and Jerry Weintraub are developing a television version of Westworld for HBO:

“Westworld” explores a futuristic theme park split into three distinct areas — West World, Medieval World and Roman World. However, things soon go wrong as the robots built to interact with human customers malfunction, attacking and killing anyone they see. A sequel, “Futureworld,” was released in 1976, and a television series aired on CBS in 1980. It was canceled after airing only three episodes.

Now, HBO is set to tackle the property again on the small screen. The pilot script will be co-written by Nolan and Lisa Joy (“Burn Notice”), and directed by Nolan. Jonathan Nolan, of course, worked with his brother Christopher Nolan on projects such as the Dark Knight series and “Memento.”

This marks HBO’s first real foray into science-fiction territory, which is known for modern and historical dramas, and with the recent success of “Game of Thrones,” fantasy.

Abrams’ and Nolan’s version of “Westworld” is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”

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Jennifer Lawrence explains why Mystique is nude in much of  X-Men: Days of Future Past:

“I’m naked,” says X-Men: Days Of Future Past’s Jennifer Lawrence, putting it bluntly. “But when I do get to wear clothes, I love the ’70s outfits.” She will be reprising her role as Mystique in the sequel to First Class, which is set 10 years later.

Lawrence’s costume is a little different this time around. She’s wearing a body suit rather than being covered in body paint, and it’s a darker shade of blue than in First Class. It looks more like Rebecca Romijn’s version of Mystique, but that’s not the only change to the character, as Lawrence explains:

“Some of the Mystique look is a little different, but we’re still using the same paint. But she’s different in this film too,” she tells SciFiNow exclusively. “She was struggling – like a lot of normal humans – with the way she looked, and she was covered up a lot in the first movie, but this time she is Mutant and proud.”

Stargate is to be rebooted in a movie trilogy.

PBS will be airing Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a three hour documentary, on October 15.

Trailer for Gravity above.

SciFi Weekend: True Blood Spoilers; Doctor Who; Batman; Star Trek; Continuum; Under The Dome; Agents of SHIELD; The Newsroom

true-blood-616x450

The sixth season of True Blood, while not without faults, was the best season in several years.  The biggest negative of the season was that Warlow, after starting as evil, then portrayed as good, all of a sudden is shown to be evil again.  Of course it is essential not to take True Blood too seriously if you are to enjoy it, and in that vein the highlight was seeing the vampires partying in the nude outside in the sun following their rescue. There has been some criticism for jumping ahead six months in the middle of the finale as opposed to the usual continuous nature of the show. I didn’t mind this at all. The show is in serious need of some change and I’d rather see them jump six months, basing it on things we have already seen, than having to go through episodes written purely to achieve the changes desired by the writers. It was also unusual to do this right in the middle of an episode but better this than stretching out the narrative for the sixth season even longer.

There were potential cliff hangers but there is considerable agreement on line regarding the outcomes. Although Eric (who created further attention with his full-frontal  nude scene) was seen to burn in the sun, he did not melt, leaving everyone pretty certain that he will survive. After all, he has all that snow around to put out the fire, and Pam is on her way to rescue him once darkness falls. I also think viewers will be surprised if it doesn’t turn out that Tara’s mother infected her with Hepatitis V when she had Tara feed on her.

If there was any doubt about Eric surviving, Brian Buckner, who replaced Alan Ball as show runner, revealed this and more about next season:

Was blowing up everything at the end of the season a chance for you to really start fresh next year?
Brian Buckner:
It is. I think we’ve had more success at the outsets of our seasons when we’ve done an adequate job setting the table for the following season. It’s a bit of a reset and it’s also establishing a story that is for every vampire, a human, for every human, a vampire. It’s to try to return to the show’s promise in Season 1, which is if vampires exist, let’s examine the relationships between humans and vampires. Now we get to do it with many different pairings rather than just Bill and Sookie. The hope is — and this is what I was hinting at Comic-Con — that by putting all of our characters essentially into one story, now it’s Bon Temps vs. the world, the characters people love will get more screen time because these stories don’t have separate demands. We just get to tell a simpler story and then experience them through our characters.

If vampires and humans are now working together, where does the tension come from?
Buckner:
I don’t mean to say there are not complications with those relationships. The driving force of the show is going to be the relationships. What does Alcide (Joe Manganiello) or Sookie having to take on a vampire feeding partner do to their relationship? Every relationship is complicated because it’s a three-way or four-way. That’s what we’re looking at. I don’t think it’s all going to be hunky-dory. It’s going to create tensions between makers and makees because, “You love that human, don’t you?!” It’s a bit of a shift back from plot-driven big bad to some of the soapy elements of the show. It’s the relationships that are interesting, not the plot that the bad guy is necessarily providing.

Can you talk about the threat of the mutated Hep-V?
Buckner:
That’s the work of next season. Specifically, viruses do mutate and that’s part of why we gave ourselves a six-month time passage. This is a disease that, as Dr. Overlark (John Fleck) explained when he was injecting Nora (Lucy Griffiths), can be spread in any number of ways. It has spread around the world very rapidly. Bon Temps is a microcosm of what’s happening out there in the world. The vampires who are infected, their appetite for human blood is increasing. They need to feed more often in order to survive this disease.

Have vampires essentially overrun the world at this point?
Buckner:
It’s a major outbreak. You see how people got upset about Bird Flu and no one really had it. The idea here was to isolate Bon Temps to make it the town we know vs. the world so we don’t have to leave Bon Temps in order to get story. They can only depend on one another; that’s what Sam is talking to Andy (Chris Bauer) about. Andy obviously has his own feelings about vampires right now and whether or not they can be trusted. Sam’s point is we don’t have a choice but to trust them. Without their help, we can’t protect ourselves. It’s a very uneasy alliance. I don’t want to suggest that it is conflict-free. Of course, we promised a pretty big payoff at the Bellefluer’s bar.

Presumably that means Season 7 picks up right where we left off?
Buckner:
That’s a fair presumption.

Turning to the biggest question after the finale: Is Eric really dead? What kind of role will Alexander Skarsgard have next season?
Buckner:
In the olden days, this was a fun tease for an audience [Laughs]. The actor Alex Skarsgard and the character of Eric Northman will be back on the show next year. He’ll be a series regular. We’ve obviously promised a “Where is Eric?” story and it would feel incredibly cheap to deliver the goods right away. We sent Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) off in search of him and if she were to find him right away, we would be doing a disservice to ourselves and to the audience. How we use him is going to be up to us, but we want people to rest assured that he will be back in their living rooms next year or wherever they watch. Boy do they love him! Wow!

Pretty sure he broke the internet after going full-frontal.
Buckner:
It was crazy. I got a question about the discussion on that and said, “He’s Swedish. There was no discussion whatsoever.” I even called him to say, “Are you sure this is OK?” and he said, “No problemo.”

People thought it might be a body double.
Buckner:
Nope! One day the tell-all will come out that that guy is as cool as Eric Northman. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

Because you jumped ahead six months, we missed Sookie and Alcide’s courtship. Will we see some flashbacks to that?
Buckner:
Whether or not there will be flashbacks, we don’t know at this point. The writers will be back in the room starting September 3 and we’ll start to figure this all out. I think there is fun in, “How did this happen?” but you will see what sparks flew. It’s not like we’re going to skip over all the Sookie-Alcide fun. In terms of going back and filling in those six months, that I don’t think we’ll be doing, but the audience will see what they want to see.

The final scene did have a definite zombie feel but Buchner does say that these are not really vampire zombies:

TVLINE | How do you explain the fact that some of those infected  — Nora, for example — died quickly, yet others are wandering around.
We did say that the virus had mutated, and we get to decide what those mutations are. Perhaps the demand for human blood goes up and that’s the only thing that keeps vampires with Hep V alive. In seasons past – I’m not going to point to any one of them – we took some massive swings, not knowing where we were going. That’s the nature of what we do. In this case, I don’t believe we bit off more than we can chew. I’m not going to give answers to all these things, but the virus has mutated. That’s another reason for the time passage. Just like bacteria mutates and that’s why there are antibiotic-resistant strains. So what applied to Nora doesn’t necessarily apply to this gang. And they’re not zombies.

TVLINE | What are they? Is there a name for them?
In my somewhat limited zombie-genre experience, zombies are not organized. They’re just hunting-killing machines. So what was meant to come across there was that they’re organized, they’re in a formation, they’re hunting, they’re sentient, they can talk. They still have intellect.

I’ll accept this premise as the show is in need of change, but I do have a problem with the idea that survival depends upon humans agree to allowing a vampire to feed on them for protection. All the new anti-vampire weapons which the governor stock piled in Louisiana might no longer be available, but there should have been some other source of these weapons made available over the past six months.

In other True Blood news, Amelia Rose Blair, who played the governor’s daughter who was turned into a vampire, will be a series regular.

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This low-resolution picture of three Doctors, (Tennant, Smith, and Hurt) has leaked out from the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. TV Drama interviewed Steven Moffat. Here are some excerpts about writing Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Coupling

WS: When you succeeded Russell T Davies as head writer of Doctor Who, what did you want to do with the show?
MOFFAT: I just wanted it to be good. People always want me to have some form of agenda. Sometimes in desperation I say I want it to be a fairy tale or I want it to be this or that. I just wanted it to be a good Doctor Who. The thing about Doctor Who is it’s a different show every week. It speaks with a different voice on a weekly basis. It must be fast moving. It must be funny and exciting. Those were all present in Russell’s era and I hope they are all present in mine. I serve at the pleasure of the TARDIS [the time machine in Doctor Who].

WS: Was it ever intimidating, being responsible for such an iconic television franchise?
MOFFAT: You don’t really feel much pressure at the beginning of a TV series because you’re just making a home movie in a big shed! You don’t really think anyone is ever going to watch it. Towards April 3, 2010, [the British premiere date for Moffat’s first season as head writer] I started to feel the pressure a little bit. We were doing Sherlock at the time as well and Matt Smith’s Doctor for the first time, so Benedict [Cumberbatch] and Matt were waiting in the wings of fame. I remember thinking, if these two things screw up, I’m finished! I just thought, what if they’re rubbish? [Laughs] This could be a really terrible year. I could crash Doctor Who and screw up Sherlock Holmes and if I’d just shot Daniel Craig in the face I’d have ended all of British culture. But it didn’t work out that way [Laughs]. It was a very, very good year and they’ve been very good years ever since.

WS: You’ve had such a broad career in British television. Does writing sci-fi or fantasy flex different creative muscles than mystery or comedy or any other genre?
MOFFAT: I never feel as though it does. I never feel as though the job is any different. Comedy is good training for writing anything. It’s a very clear-cut proposition—you must be funny several times a page. Comedy writers, by instinct, are very severe on themselves. If there aren’t sufficient gags, in a wider sense of the word “gag,” in the scene then I’m not keeping it. It has to do something to the audience. But writing Coupling doesn’t feel different from writing Doctor Who.

WS: Why did you want to put Sherlock Holmes in a modern-day setting?
MOFFAT: [British actor and screenwriter] Mark Gatiss and myself are huge Sherlock Holmes fans. We adore and worship those stories above all literature. Going back and forth from [filming] Doctor Who—we were both writers on it when Russell was running it—we were talking on the train about Sherlock Holmes. We got to talking about the many wonderful movies and the many terrible movies, which are almost more entertaining. We admitted shyly to each other that our favorites were the updated Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce movies [produced in the U.S. in the 1940s]. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce did two Victorian-set adventures and then they did 12 updated ones. At the time people criticized them terribly—How dare you update Sherlock Holmes? The fact is, those cheaply made updated adventures are just a bit more fun. They somehow seemed to capture more of the pulpy fun of the original stories. So what we said to each other was, “Some day someone is going to think of doing that again. And when they do they’ll have a huge hit. And when they have that huge hit we’ll be very, very cross because we should have done it.” And then we’d leave the conversation! My wife, Sue, who is also a television producer, said, Why don’t you just do it? So she made us sit down and explain Sherlock Holmes to her. She knows nothing of the Sherlock books but she was instantly interested. She literally got us in a room in London, where Mark and I sat and said, What would it be? Basic conversations like, What do they call each other? In the original they call each other Holmes and Watson. That would make them like a couple of public-school boys these days! So they call each other Sherlock and John. It became exciting for us when we realized how easily and properly it updates. In the original stories Dr. Watson comes home from a war in Afghanistan and is looking for cheap digs, so he moves in with Sherlock Holmes. He can come back from the same place now. In the original stories he wrote a journal, which fell out of fashion for a very long while until it was reinvented as a blog. Sherlock Holmes always sent telegrams in the original stories because he preferred the brevity of that communication. We’re back at telegrams—we call them texts.

Most of the adaptations have become about the Victoriana, but the original stories, there’s nothing in them that’s particularly Victorian. They are stories that are mysteries. The setting is just the world that Arthur Conan Doyle could see outside his window. I think by updating it you move the character closer to the audience. You move all the sepia-toned dusty Victoriana out of the way and you see him clearly again.

Coupling, which Moffat mentioned in passing, was one of the greatest sit-coms of all time. It sort of was a combination of Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, and occasionally Big Bang Theory.

Some quicker questions for Moffat:

Rumour that JK Rowling is writing a short story for the 50th Anniversary.
“I can’t confirm that…, right now.”
A return for the Doctor’s daughter, Jenny?
“The door is open, it’s entirely possible.”Similarly, a return for Romana?
“I have actually given no thought at all to Romana. The Time Lords are dead in my mind. They died.”
Will Peter Capaldi’s Doctor have a Scottish accent?
“I’d be very surprised if he didn’t”
Moffat has also acknowledged that it has been established that the Doctor can only regenerate twelve times. Obviously they will not end the show when this limit comes. There was a throw away line when David Tennant was in an episode of Sarah Jane Adventures claiming 507 but the line wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. They already have had two events in the new episodes which could alter the original limit. As the Time Lords have been overthrown, nobody knows if the old rules apply. There is also the possibility that the Doctor obtained additional regenerations when River Song gave up her future regenerations to save the Doctor’s life in Let’s Kill Hitler. There is plenty of precedent for transfer of regenerative powers in Doctor Who, giving Moffat a number of possible routes around this. If there are only twelve regenerations, then Peter Capaldi’s Doctor would be the last with the ability to regenerate, and if the John Hurt Doctor is an actual regeneration, it would mean Capaldi is the last until the rules are changed.

There has also been speculation that the regeneration will occur in the 50th Anniversary episode as opposed to the Christmas episode. Much of this is based upon rather circumstantial evidence, but I could see Moffat going for such a surprise during an episode which is being broadcast at the same time internationally. Matt Smith’s hair was cut before the Christmas episode was filmed, but he might also grow it back or grow a wig. There are some on line references to Peter Capaldi starting on Doctor Who in November but such references for future shows are often inaccurate. One of the faults I cited in my review of The Name of The Doctor was that if Clara was seeing remnants of his entire time stream after the Doctor died she should have seen versions of the Doctor beyond the eleventh. If the anniversary episode begins in the Doctor’s tomb, there could be reason for showing the 12th Doctor’s face other than a regeneration.

Christopher Eccleston has declined to participate in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who after he did not leave the show on good terms. He has offered to appear in the 100th when speaking at the British Film Institute:

“I love the BFI. I love the Doctor and hope you enjoy this presentation. Joe Ahearne directed five of the 13 episodes of the first series. He understood the tone the show needed completely – strong, bold, pacy visuals coupled with wit, warmth and a twinkle in the performances, missus.“If Joe agrees to direct the 100th anniversary special, I will bring my sonic and a stair-lift and – providing the Daleks don’t bring theirs – I, the ninth Doctor, vow to save the universe and all you apes in it.”

I will be looking forward to watching this in another 50 years.

Doctor Who makes it was to recast the lead due to regeneration but other franchises such as Batman periodically reboot with a new star. There has been considerable amount of objection to the choice of Ben Affleck, to some degree in response to how he flopped as Daredevil.  Twitter responses to the choice here and here.

Last week we looked at a few of the Star Trek technological advancements which are now a reality. There is a $10,000 prize for developing a Tricorder.

The above “honest trailer” is a hilarious and brutal look at Star Trek Into Darkness. It does include a lot of legitimate criticism of the movie. The segment in the second half on the problems with having brought Spock back from the future is a serious problem whenever there are variations on old episodes.

The implications of knowledge of the future has also been on my mind this week as I got to watching Continuum, knocking off the first season and starting the second season this week. Besides questions of time travel, contemporary political issues are raised (as Star Trek often did in the past). There is a future in which corporations have “bailed out” failing governments and taken over. Many questions arise while watching which would have been worthy of discussion in this blog while the show was airing, and I’m sure I will have more to say about the show when I complete it. For those looking for shows to watch during the summer when there are fewer new shows being aired, I would definitely add Continuum to the list of great shows from 2013.

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Who will be the monarch on Under the Dome? From SpoilerTV:

So, who is the Monarch? The obvious choice would be Angie, who became the latest person to suffer from seizures. Joe seemed to quash that theory, pointing out to Norrie that Angie’s butterfly tattoo is not a Monarch. But Angie could actually still be a candidate. “Of course,” executive producer Neal Baer tells. “She has seizures, she’s marked in a way that separates her from everyone else. She’s intrepid, smart and strong.”Unfortunately, that means Junior could be the king to her queen, or rather, the fourth hand. “There’s much more to come in the Angie-Junior relationship, especially when, in an upcoming episode, they’re brought together in a stunning way,” Baer teases.Though Junior seemed crazy at first — he claimed he locked Angie up in the fallout shelter because she was “sick” — now it appears he predicted this would happen. “Junior is sensitive to dome-ish things,” Baer says. “His mother painted pink stars falling in lines around him when he was a little boy, a precursor to all that’s happening now. Angie’s seizure confirmed what Junior felt — that she was different, like himself — though he didn’t know exactly why until she had her seizure, which confirmed what he felt all along: That Angie was ‘sick’ too; that she was somehow ‘touched’ by the dome.”

The show also introduced Natalie Zea playing a character from out of town who has been hiding out since the dome appeared. I can accept this once, but only once. The town is cut off. I hope they don’t go the Gilligan’s Island route and have people from outside repeatedly appear.

Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones and Tudors has been cast in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2.

New trailer for Agents of SHIELD above.

Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black has be cast for a guest appearance on Parks and Recreation. I wonder how many roles she will play.

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All season we have seen staffers at ACN on The Newsroom being prepared for a trial which came after the Genoa story fell apart. We are finally seeing what the actual case is about. Last week a situation was set up in which Jerry Dantana was all alone in an interview with a general. He committed a major breach of journalistic ethics when he edited a tape to remove the key use of the word if, failing to appreciate the hypothetical nature of the general’s answers. Dantana, played by Hamish Linklater, will be fired and file a wrongful termination suit. Linklater doesn’t see Dantana as being totally wrong:

“He believes the story is true,” Linklater says. “He just needs to get rid of one word from this interview in order for him to have enough evidence to get the story on the air. … He knows he’s done something that’s wrong. He knows that he’s breached ethics, but he believes that, for this story, it was worth it.”Linklater insists that his character’s decisions are not motivated by ambition, but rather his ideals. “He’s trying to tell news stories that the audience doesn’t seem to have much of an appetite for and the network doesn’t have much of an appetite for broadcasting,” he says. “His beef is with this sort of lazy liberalism that he feels is in the staff and that kind of knee-jerk Obama fandom that he finds around him. He feels [they’re] apologizing for too many mistakes.”But indeed it’s Jerry’s mistakes that will bring the “News Night” team under fire. On Sunday’s episode, the “Genoa” story will air, and the wheels start to come off the train almost immediately after the broadcast ends. But it isn’t just Jerry’s fudged interview footage that is problematic. The episode will also slowly reveal the many other ways the story turned out to be false, which gives Jerry ammunition for his wrongful termination lawsuit.

“Once he’s found out… he knows the ax is going to fall,” Linklater says. “But he just sticks to his guns. He thinks that everybody was doing a sloppy job and that he’s been made the fall guy for it. It’s not fair.”

Related television and political comments yesterday on realistic versus unrealistic aspects of House of Cards, The West Wing, and Orange is the New Black.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Hannibal; Avengers; Under the Dome; Defiance; Bunheads; Renewed and Canceled Shows; Gone Girl Cast; Cookoo’s Calling

Matt Smith appeared on Craig Ferguson’s show on July 24. Video above.

Steven Moffat says he will clear up some of the hanging plot threads in Doctor Who this year in an interview with I09:

When we caught up with Moffat last weekend at Comic-Con, we asked him, “Do you feel like you owe viewers some closure on the big questions, like who blew up the TARDIS? Or what the Silence was up to?”

And he responded, “Well, we are going to do it all. It’s going to end at Christmas. Yeah, [there will be closure]. But ‘owe them’? I don’t know about ‘owing.’ But yeah, there’s a plan, and we will end the Eleventh Doctor’s run with the answers to some of those questions.”

And what about the biggest dangling plotline in Doctor Who history? Back in 1986, the Doctor met a dark alternate future version of himself known as the Valeyard, who put him on trial and tried to steal his remaining lives. And the Valeyard was never mentioned again — until the most recent Who story, “The Name of the Doctor,” when his name came up.

How does the mention of the Valeyard tie in with the trend of the Doctor acting more dark? Are we going to see him again? We asked Moffat, and he responded,

Well, I couldn’t resist saying ‘The Valeyard,’ because we haven’t mentioned him in the new series. [Laughs] So I thought, ‘I’ll just put that one in.’ I never quite understood, in ‘Trial of a Time Lord,’ what he was meant to be. I never understood if he was a real Doctor, or [something else]. But in a story where we are hinting that the Doctor has a hidden chapter to his life, it was irresistible to mention the Valeyard. But you know, he’ll only ever get so dark, let’s be honest. He’s the Doctor. I think a man who worries about going bad is never really going to go bad. Maybe not.

As for the Doctor’s wife, River Song, she is not a dangling plot any longer — and in fact Moffat seems pretty happy with how he left her in “The Name of the Doctor.” At this point, he seems to feel as though he’s told the story he wanted to tell about her.

He adds that he’s “not quite sure” if we’ll see her again. We could, because we’re seeing her out of sequence in the past, “and clearly the implication is that she’s met more than two Doctors. But the question is whether or not we should” revisit her. He adds that “it’ll now be story-driven”: If he has the perfect idea for a story that involves River Song, she’ll be back. “But I quite liked where we got to at the end of ‘The Name of the Doctor,’ with him saying goodbye to her. So we’ll see.”

It doesn’t sound from this that the theories of the John Hurt Doctor being the Valeyard are correct, but this could also be misdirection on Moffat’s part. There are also rumors that a scene is being filmed showing the regeneration from Paul McGann’s Doctor to John Hurt’s Doctor, which might be shown as a prequel.

The BBC has figured out how to prevent spoilers from getting out after the initial airing of the 50th anniversary episode. It will be aired worldwide at the same time. (Unfortunately November 23 is a football Saturday and I still might wind up putting off watching until later in the day, depending upon the football schedule.)

Hannibal

Bryan Fuller discussed Hannibal with A.V. Club. Some of the question and answers from the four-part interview follow:

AVC: This is a prequel to stories we’ve already seen, and you’ve been very open about your plan for the series going forward. How do you keep the suspense? How do you keep overriding tension when we know where this is going?

BF: Well, we know that Hannibal is going to get caught and that he’s going to end up in the Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, but a lot can happen to get there. I think the big move in there was to frame Will Graham and have him take the fall for a lot of these murders, which, right off the bat, introduced a completely new concept to the backstory, but also gave us a way to hold off incarcerating Hannibal Lecter for a while, because we have such a new twist to the story, where Jack Crawford is going to be bonding more with Hannibal Lecter, which really informs his distrust and disdain for this character when we get to the Silence Of The Lambs or Red Dragon era of the story. So it felt like we have now all of this opportunity to tell the specific details of a story that only existed between the lines of the book.

AVC: This episode really starts the relationship with Will and Hannibal together in therapy. You’re really interested in both presenting Hannibal as a credible therapist and in the process of seeing two people in a room talking together, which is different for a crime procedural. How did those two elements come to enter the show’s world?

BF: Well, there’s a certain amount of budgetary restraints with the show, because we are not a big-budget show. In the path we had gone down initially, we laid out a version of the show for the network, and the network said that it wanted it to be much more case oriented and procedural. So we laid out that version of the show, and it was very, very expensive. And nobody wanted to increase the budget, so it was really a matter of going back to… fortunately the budget was our friend in that way, because I did want to tell a psychological horror story, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time at crime scenes when I could be finding out what characters are going through. And the best, simplest way for that was for people to sit down and talk about it. We fortunately are dealing with psychiatrists, so [Laughs.] it’s a great platform to have people say what they mean and what they feel and have it feel relatively natural, given the context of where they’re having those conversations. So it was initially a budgetary thing, but I think for the benefit of the show—and the stories I was interested in telling—were much more psychological and could sustain sitting down and talking about them.

Before I was going to be a writer, I was going to be a psychiatrist, so I’m fascinated with psychiatry and how it can go wrong and how it can be incredibly helpful for the patient. So I thought it was a great opportunity to tell a story about psychiatrists. And we have a lot of psychiatrist characters on the show. [Laughs.] It felt like that’s our world and these are our characters, so they are going to be talking about psychiatry. And we tried to get the psychiatry to be as honest as possible, given what we needed to tell, story-wise.

AVC: Will she be able to be in future seasons? She has a new show at midseason on NBC.

BF: We absolutely want her to be. She absolutely wants to be. It’s going to be working out the schedule with the other show, and we know that it’s about the schedule. We were very flexible with her last year. Actually, she was in five episodes, and we filmed all of her material over three days. We got her for three days, got her in, did the five episodes, and got her out, because she has a family in London that she wants to spend time with. She’s very interested in coming back. Right now, she’s in the first episode of the second season, but we have to work out schedules and see if we can actually pull it off.

AVC: This episode brings Abigail’s arc to an end. Was she always going to die?

BF: We made that decision about halfway through the season. She wasn’t always going to die. It was one of those where we were going to kill off one of the regular characters, and the character that we were going to kill off, we felt like it wouldn’t be as devastating for that person to die, because we hadn’t fully serviced that character. Someone had said, “I don’t really care about that character dying, but if you’re going to kill somebody that’s going to make me upset, then Abigail Hobbs,” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s who we have to kill, isn’t it?” [Laughs.] It’s kind of as simple as, “Whose death would mean the most?” and it was Abigail’s.

AVC: Can you reveal who you were originally going to kill?

BF: No. Because we may kill them in the second season.

AVC: How important to you was it that he have that moment of realization somewhere in this season?

BF: Very important. Because the audience knows from the first frame, before Hannibal is even onscreen that we are telling the story of Hannibal Lecter, who is going to be caught by Will Graham and incarcerated, Will had to figure Hannibal out in the first season. Otherwise, it would feel like we were treading water and artificially distending the story to accommodate a television schedule, and I wanted each of these seasons to feel like a novel, as opposed to episodic television. It felt like, what a great way to begin the story and then end the story at that point. And end it iconographically with the Silence Of The Lambs shot of coming down the corridor of the Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, to that last cell on the left and finding, not Hannibal Lecter, but Will Graham. And know that we are now taking a turn away from the canon that will somehow get us back into canon. But right now, we are departing from the literature into uncharted territory that will be unique to the television show. Then when we circle back into the timeline of the books and get to Red Dragon again, so much will have happened between these characters that will further inform their uniqueness to this show.

AVC: Will is incarcerated right now, and if you’re able to go on and do the later seasons, Hannibal will be incarcerated. How do you approach that question of writing a character who’s confined to a room, yet has to be one of the protagonists of the series?

BF: That’s the great thing about imagination is that Will’s imagination can transport him out of that room and into places, cinematically, that will allow him to continue being a pivotal part of the story, even though he’s locked up. One of the things that was really interesting in the books, is the concept of Hannibal’s memory palace, the place where he goes to survive incarceration with the virtual-reality system that exists between his ears. We’ll be seeing Will create his own version of the mind palace over the course of the second season.

AVC: How intricately did you think out Hannibal’s framing of Will? 

BF: It was pretty meticulously plotted. We knew that there were certain changes along the way, like we were originally going to deal with both the copycat killer and the Chesapeake Ripper in the first season, and then it felt like, as we got further into this season, that the story should be about the copycat killer primarily, and that the Chesapeake Ripper should serve to complicate Jack Crawford’s character. Then we could spike that ball in the second season.

Vulture outlines what we know, and what is being rumored, about the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron. The story won’t be based upon the recent comic arc with this name, and there will be a new origin story. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch will be joining The Avengers. Joss Whedon also says that Black Widow will have a larger role in this movie.

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Under the Dome was disappointing last week (with the entire series so far not living up to my hopes for it). Did anyone really doubt that the mother of all bombs would hit the dome and nothing would happen inside? I could see where the inhabitants would be worried, but I would expect them to see the failure of the bomb to affect the dome as a possible outcome. I was not surprised to see Big Jim question whether to release Angie, and not all that surprised to see her back with Junior. The Hollywood Reporter conducted an interview with producer Brian K. Vaughan which answers some minor questions.

I’m glad I stuck with Defiance and finished the first season last week.  It is not the best science fiction around, but the show did become more interesting at the end of the season with the lives of so many main characters getting shook up. Amanda is no longer mayor and Nolan is now a free agent, leaving the two characters with fewer limitations and more potential. Bastr has more:

But it sounds like the Tarr Family will be the major source of drama for Season Two. Murphy expressed that they are what he’s looking forward to the most, having left them in a precarious position at the end of season one after Datak was arrested after winning the election, leaving the Tarrs broken. He will be missing in the beginning of the season (as will be Irisa).

“The family is constantly changing because the balance of power keeps changing.” Curran explained. “As the second season starts and progresses, if Datak is to survive, wherever he is, he has to learn not to be such a hot head. He has to be more pliable instead of brittle. Like steel when it’s brittle, it snaps. He needs to be more manipulative in his approach. His attack, kill and ask questions later obviously isn’t working for him. You can’t demand respect, you have to earn it. Unfortunately his way is very demanding and the future is going to get him in trouble again.”

Curran has read a few scripts from the second season and shared his excitement for the interesting stuff within the Tarr family that he found to be especially compelling. “It’s a sci-fi show set within this immigrant drama, and a lot of it puts the mirror up to society in many ways for immigrants around the world. I have a wife who’s Vietnamese, she was an immigrant from French-Bosnia-Serbia. So many ways there’s a lot of similarities in a lot of those aspects that I find compelling in the sci fi world as it pertains to our society. I think we’re going to touch on that with a lot of back story.”

Amy Sherman-Palladino’s show Bunheads has officially been canceled.David Weigel had previously called the best show on television. I wouldn’t go that far, but nobody other than Aaron Sorkin can write better dialog than her when she is hot. Unfortunately the show didn’t last long enough to rival Gilmore Girls.

John Williams is going to score the next three Star Wars movies. They wouldn’t be the same without his music .

Netflix is rapidly turning into a major source for new television material. Arrested Developmentwill return for another season. Netflix has also renewed Orange Is The New Black. It appears that HBO will be renewingThe Newsroom, perhaps with an official announcement coming soon.

It is looking like Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck will be playing the leads in the movie adaptation of Gone Girl.

J.K. Rowling says a sequel to Cuckoo’s Calling should be out next year.

SciFi Weekly: Doctor Who; SHIELD; JK Rowling Exposed as Mystery Writer; Star Trek3; Summer Glau; Kristen Bell; The Newsroom

A prom apparently has a different meaning in the U.K. than in the United States. There were rumors that the identity of the next Doctor would be revealed at a prom this weekend. That didn’t occur, but there was an appearance by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in the video above.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Steven Moffat. Following are some of the more interesting/news worthy answers:

Are you hoping the new Doctor will appear in this year’s Christmas special?
Yes. That’s not the hope — that’s the plan. It’ll be the traditional regeneration. You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show. I mean, you sometimes sit and think, “Are there better ways of doing it? Is there a different way of doing it?” But quite honestly what could be better than that? It’s just too exciting. [Laughs]

Am I right in thinking that the new series—the first post-Matt shows—will be broadcast in late summer 2014?
I think that’s probably right. But these things change so often.

What can you tell us about this November’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary show?
[Laughs] Oh, well, very, very little. It will feature of course Matt and Jenna Coleman, but in addition there’ll be Billie Piper and David Tennant and John Hurt. But we’ve been really quite careful. We have a philosophy that anything we shot outside we had to own up to but the rest of it…You’re just going to have to wait until November to find out about.

What is the format of the 50th anniversary special? Is it movie-length?
It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. [Laughs] It’s certainly well over an hour.

How much longer do you yourself intend to stay with the show?
I think a year at a time. I’ve signed up for this next year, with the new Doctor. It’s one of those jobs when you know when you’ve had enough. At the moment I haven’t had enough and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’m very excited for the challenge of the new Doctor and establishing that new Doctor. So, no plans to leave as yet. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be here for 20 years. There will come that day when I think it’s time someone else had a go and it’s time I did something else.

You’re also the executive producer of Sherlock. Have you finished shooting the new series yet?
Oh, I wish! We’ve done two. But we’ve now got a small gap — a small gap? A large gap! — while Martin (Freeman) goes back to New Zealand to film a bit more of the Hobbit and then he’ll return to us. Hopefully, by that time, I’ll actually have finished the Sherlock script I’m writing and we’ll make another one.

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Entertainment Weekly has picked up some news on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in preparation for their Comic-Con panel. Here are a couple of the top items:

1. The pilot hints at how mild-mannered kick-ass bureaucrat Agent Coulson (Clarke Gregg) was resurrected  to lead the team after being killed off in The Avengers (his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues say he must “never know the truth” about his death). Yet you’ll have to keep watching to learn the full story. “We can’t wait to pull the curtain back on that,” says co-creator Jed Whedon. “[But] we’re going to take our time.”

2. The S.H.I.E.L.D. story will work in tandem with the Marvel films, both past and upcoming. In fact, the first episode will pick up a storyline that’s familiar from one of the Marvel hits — and it’s not The Avengers. “We plan on trying to weave in between the films and try to make them more rewarding on both ends,” says Jed Whedon, who points out the trick is to make the audience not ask a certain fanboy-bar-fight-style question: “In any of these [episodes], you can always ask: ‘Why don’t they just call Iron Man?’” Yeah, that would be annoying! So our next question is: Why don’t they just call Iron Man? “They are aware of each other,” Whedon says of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and the metal-suited Malibu playboy, “but they do have to have their own lives.”

Cuckoo Calling

J.K. Rowling had a detective novel published under the name of Robert Galbraith earlier this year, with her identity leaking out this week. io9 has a rundown of reviews of the novel, which sound quite favorable. Conveniently, the book is scheduled for paperback release later this month.

Zachary Quinto has this speculation regarding the next Star Trek movie:  “Star Trek 3 should be filming, I suppose, next year. It’s going to be made a lot quicker than the last one. That’s the plan, although nothing is confirmed yet.” That would make it difficult for J.J. Abrams to direct as he will be busy with Star Wars. Presumably they will want to release the next movie for the 50th Anniversary in 2016.

With J.J. Abrams directing movies for both franchises, and with the recent Star Trek movies in many ways being more Star Wars than classic Star Trek, the old Star Wars vs. Star Trek fan wars seem to have died out. George Lucas provides more reason for peace between the two:

The documentary “Trek Nation” chronicles Rod Roddenberry’s personal journey to explore the importance of the legendary sci-fi franchise dreamed up by his father Gene.

The film comes to DVD on Tuesday, and among the bonus materials included in the release is an interview with “Star Wars” creator George Lucas talking about the important role “Star Trek” played in paving the way for his own space opera.

“‘Star Trek’ softened up the entertainment arena so that ‘Star Wars’ could come along and stand on its shoulders,” Lucas said in an interview.

While Star Trek worked far better as a weekly show than as movies, it also must be kept in mind that Star Trek probably would have never been released as a movie, reviving the franchise, if not for the success of Star Wars.

Summer Glau

Summer Glau has been cast for a recurring role on Arrow:

Glau, who has amassed plenty of genre street cred in TV series like Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and most recently as a recurring on Syfy’s Alphas, is set to play the dangerous Isabel Rochev, Vice President of Acquisitions of Stellmoor International, a company looking to take over Queen Consolidated.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Kristen Bell (currently busy filming the Veronica Mars movie) will have a guest appearance on Parks and Recreations next season, in an episode to air in early October:

After shooting the Veronica Mars movie, Kristen Bell will guest-star in an episode of NBC’s Parks and Recreation as Ingrid, a snooty City Councilwoman from Eagleton. “She’s Leslie’s equivalent, but richer and better dressed,” executive producer Michael Schur tells EW. The two will first meet up at the annual Pawnee-Eagleton high school basketball game. Bell and Parks actor Adam Scott previously worked together on Party Down and Veronica Mars, and she currently stars with frequent Parks guest Ben Schwartz on House of Lies.

A lot happened in last week’s True Blood–the type of changes and revelations we might not have expected until towards the end of past seasons. The show certainly has its flaws, and I almost gave up on it a few times, but enough is happening this season to keep my interest.

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The Newsroom returns for a second season tonight. Oliva Munn discussed preparation for her role on The Newsroom with Vanity Fair:

“I write a lot of notes in my scripts,” she explains. “It’s important for me to have them there as a reference so I can keep on track for what I’m wanting to convey. Sometimes, no matter how much I prepare, I can let my emotions of the day affect my choices in a scene, so I like to have my notes with me to remind myself of what track I should be on. And with scripts as complicated and rich as Sorkin’s, it’s vital for me. My notes become my sheet music.”’

Netflix is quickly establishing itself as a service worth subscribing to for its original content now that there are multiple choices for on-demand movies. Orange Is The New Black premiered this week and is up to premium cable standards, and they are negotiating for a second season of Arrested Development. Besides their original series, Netflix recently released the excellent BBC2 series The Fall before it completed its run in the UK.

SciFi Weekend: Dexter Returns; Prince Charles Does Dalek Impersonation; The John Hurt Doctor

Episode 801

There will be a short edition this week as I continue to vacation in the location of Somewhere In Time (although not because of the mediocre time travel movie).  I haven’t seen hardly any genre television, but did download the first episode of the season of Dexter and watched one night over the past week.

Dexter resumed six months after Deb shot LaGuerta, with Dexter holding up much better than Deb. However, as we know that this is the final season, there are a few possible situations developing which could lead to Dexter’s downfall. Deb says she shot the wrong person and, while so far I wouldn’t make this my top prediction, this could lead to her ultimately either killing Dexter or turning him (and possibly herself) in. Dexter killed the criminal which Deb was investigating/living with and didn’t dispose of the body in his usual manner, possibly leading him to become implicated either for this crime or becoming at risk from the criminals after the jewels. The biggest risk to Dexter may come from Dr. Vogel, who knows about Dexter’s past, having assisted Harry in developing the code. She is overly confident over her own safety, telling Dexter he cannot kill her because she doesn’t fit the code, considering that Dexter has broken it several times. From the previews it appears that she wants to use Dexter to kill off someone else, which is yet another potential source of danger for Dexter.

Vulture has an interview with Charlotte Rampling, who plays Dr. Vogel.

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Prince Charles did a Dalek impersonation and The Telegraph had some potential spoilers about the identity of the John Hurt (nothing which hasn’t already been speculated about on line).

Costume designer Howard Burden, who showed the royal couple a selection of costumes from the show, disclosed that the anniversary episode will feature John Hurt, who will play a “dark Doctor” seen briefly at the end of the last series.

He said: “There was a gap between Paul McGann playing the Doctor and Christopher Eccleston, when we didn’t see a regeneration, and John Hurt will fit into that gap. He is a past Doctor, not a future Doctor.”

SciFi Weekend: Matt Smith Leaving Doctor Who–The Fall of the 11th on Trenzalore; Karen Gillan Gets Marvel Movie Role; Hannibal Renewed; Dan Harmon Returning To Community; Revolution Finale; Is Megan Draper Sharon Tate?; RIP (And Return Soon) Selena Kyle

Times Matt Smith

The big genre news of the week was also front page news on many newspapers. After months of rumors that this would be his last season, Matt Smith has announced that he will not be returning to Doctor Who after the upcoming 50th Anniversary episode and Christmas episode:

“Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

“Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven – he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before.

“Your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number 11, who I might add is not done yet – I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special.

“It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the Tardis for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.”

This makes me wonder if we will really see how the fall of the Doctor plays out on Trenzalore and to what degree his final two episodes are a continuation of the story started in The Name of the Doctor. As Moffat has said that John Hurt will return in the eighth season, this episode might have long lasting ramifications.

Steven Moffat had this to say about Smith: “Great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break as we say goodbye to number 11. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.” Smith won several awards for his role:

Smith has been nominated for nine different awards over his time on “Doctor Who,” winning three of them — two SFX awards in 2011 and 2012, and a National Television Award in 2012. Smith was the first actor in “Doctor Who” to be nominated for a BAFTA, which he earned in 2011.

There has been immediate speculation as to the next actor to play the Doctor. Bookmakers are already setting odds. Per Steven Moffat: “A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again. After 50 years, that’s still so exciting.”

The 11 Doctors

1. William Hartnell (1963-1966)

2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

4. Tom Baker (1974-1981)

5. Peter Davison (1982-1984)

6. Colin Baker (1984-1986)

7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996)

8. Paul McGann (1996)

9. Christopher Eccleston (2005)

10. David Tennant (2005-2010)

11. Matt Smith (2010 – 2013)

While the most likely choice will be from one of many British actors, who may or may not be on lists of possibilities on various blogs, three less likely choices are the most interesting to consider:

Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch appeared like a potential lead on Doctor Who from his first appearance on Sherlock, also written by Steven Moffat. There is no doubt that he would be an excellent choice, but this is highly unlikely. I recall old interviews in which Cumberbatch said he was not interested in taking on a time-consuming commitment of this nature. The chances are far less now that he is a much bigger star.

David Tennant
Tennant is returning to the 50th anniversary episode and perhaps had so much fun in his old role that, while also unlikely, perhaps he would reconsider returning to the show. There are possible ways to make this happen, from a reverse generation following the fall of the Doctor on Trenzalore to something stemming from his reappearance in the 50th anniversary. One problem with continuing from his reappearance is that, as Billie Piper will also be present, this is apparently the Doctor from earlier in his time line. With the eleventh and Clara messing around in the Doctor’s time line anything might happen, including a revitalization of the tenth or perhaps even the next possibility:

Jenna-Louise Coleman
It has been common to speculate on having a female Doctor whenever there is a regeneration. Doing so now might create problems with the dynamics of the show as Coleman will be returning and they might not want to do a show with two female leads. One way around this would be to have Clara, perhaps as a consequence of having been intertwined in the Doctor’s time line, become the form taken when the Doctor next regenerates, perhaps merging with a Clara who is dying for the same reason the Doctor is at time of regeneration. The new Doctor could then add a male companion. Ironically I think that more female fans would be upset by this than male fans. One strength of Doctor Who as a science fiction show is that its viewers aren’t limited to nerdy males and the smaller number of female science fiction fans. Chicks Dig Time Lords (according to a Hugo-award winning book).  There is a large contingent of female viewers who watch and display a crush on the Doctor in many places on line. They might not like seeing a change to a female Doctor.

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Smith will have more time to spend on his film career, perhaps joining another recent costar who is having some success. Karen Gillan has been cast as the lead female villain in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen Gillan, who starred as Doctor Who’s companion for several seasons on the hit BBC show, is joining the cast of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy.

The movie is barreling towards a late-June shoot in the U.K. with James Gunn behind the camera.

The movie is in casting mode, with Glenn Close joining the roll call earlier this week. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista lead the cast of Marvel’s space adventure movie, which has Lee Pace and Michael Rooker as villains.

Details for Gillan’s role were not revealed, although it is known she will play the film’s lead female villain.

The Scottish actress played companion Amy Pond in Doctor Who‘s fifth through the recently ended seventh series. The character was hugely popular and appeared in Doctor Who books, apps and video games. Gillan has several indies in the can, including Oculus, a horror flick with Katee Sackhoff.

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NBC has renewed Hannibal. The press release follows:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — May 30, 2013 — NBC has given a 13-episode second-season renewal to its critically applauded drama “Hannibal.” The new season will air no earlier than midseason.

“Hannibal” is based on the characters from the novel “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris and was developed for television by Bryan Fuller, who also serves as writer and executive producer.

The announcement was made by NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke.

“We’re so proud of Bryan’s vision for a show that is richly textured, psychologically complex, and very compelling,” Salke said. “There are many great stories still to be told.”

Critics have strongly embraced the series. Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix.com said “Hannibal” “is the last of this season’s serial killer shows. It’s also, by a very wide margin, the best.” Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly called “Hannibal” “finely acted, visually scrumptious and deliciously subversive” while Matt Roush of TV Guide said the show is “feverishly twisted, fascinatingly macabre and visually remarkable.”

The series stars Hugh Dancy as expert criminal profiler Will Dancy, who has a unique ability to peer into the mind of serial killers. Mads Mikkelsen stars as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist who is helping with the cases and, unbeknownst to Will, is also a serial killer himself.

Laurence Fishburne stars as Jack Crawford, the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. Caroline Dhavernas and Hettienne Park also co-star.

Through its eight original telecasts to date, “Hannibal” is averaging a 2.0 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 4.7 million viewers overall in “most current” results from Nielsen Media Research. ”Hannibal” is the youngest drama on ABC, CBS and NBC, with a median age for its audience of 45.7. It’s also an upscale drama, indexing at a 111 among adults 18-49 living in homes with $100K+ incomes (with 100 indicating an average concentration of those homes).

Additionally, “Hannibal” is heavily time-shifted, with its 18-49 rating growing by 75% going from next-day “live plus same day” ratings to “live plus seven day” results.

In addition to Fuller, Martha De Laurentiis, Jesse Alexander, Chris Brancato, Sara Colleton, Katie O’Connell, Elisa Roth, Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee also serve as executive producers.

The series is produced by Gaumont International Television, Dino De Laurentiis Company and Living Dead Guy Productions, and co-commissioned internationally by Sony Pictures Television Networks.

I have my doubts that the show will survive on network television for Bryan Fuller’s full seven year plan, but hopefully it will either last long enough to tell enough of the story and receive a proper ending or move onto cable in the future. I will avoid any significant spoilers in the hopes that others are starting to watch the show from the beginning, but to comment briefly on this week’s episode, it is clearer than ever that Hannibal is playing games with Will. This should come as no surprise as Hannibal must realize that Will is capable of figuring out Hannibal’s secret and exposing him. If not for the needs of an ongoing story, it is questionable why Hannibal hasn’t just killed him already or ensured that Will was removed from the FBI (which I believe he is still planning to attempt this season). As a relatively minor spoiler, we also found that when Hannibal was sniffing Will in a previous episode, it wasn’t  to try to decide what type of sauce to serve him with.

Community

In yet a second move to enhance quality television, NBC has also brought back both Dan Harmon and writer Chris McKenna to Community after the failed experiment of turning it over to others last season. Harmon has given some credit for his return to series star Joel McCale. I wonder how Harmon will handle last season’s finale with Jeff graduating. While last year’s show runners might have had a plan, having him out of the study room with the others does seem like a mistake. Perhaps something will come up forcing Jeff to take one more class, possibly even a decision that he no longer wants to be a sleazy lawyer and he returns to school to later move on to a new field. There are other ways he could still interact with the others, from social visits to being hired to teach a pre-law class at Greendale. These could work, but his interactions are the best with the rest of the cast when he is “studying” with them in the library.

Revolution - Season 1

Revolution will be airing its season finale tomorrow and remarkably it has been renewed. The one good thing I can say about Revolution is that it does have an ongoing storyline which does receive a conclusion. The first half of the season dealt with the rescue of the son. The second half dealt with going to the tower, and they have now reached it. However reaching a conclusion and reaching a satisfactory conclusion are two different things. It is really not worth the space to itemize all the unrealistic things about the storyline. Among the questionable discoveries, there are people living in the tower who have dedicated their lives to prevent anyone from getting to the twelfth level, where the electricity can be restored (with a contrived risk of burning up the planet). They have never been outside, which makes little sense since they could easily retreat inside as needed, and it is questionable that their food supply would have lasted this long even if this is where Dick Cheney supposedly hid out. They also feel more secure guarding the twelfth level than making it impossible to reach it or destroying the controls. While all electricity on earth is stopped (not counting that needed for operation of nervous systems in living things), somehow satellites remain functioning in orbit well beyond their normal life spans.

It appears from the previews that power will be restored, but we don’t know if this is temporary or whether it will extend into next season. At least it is likely that the storyline will move onto a new quest for next year avoiding a complete repeat of what we have already seen. It does seem safe to predict that we will be dealing with the same characters but new destination. Hopefully the quality is improved.

Renewing Hannibal, having Dan Harmon return, and renewing Revolution might partially be due to a shortage of hits to fill the prime time spots at NBC, complicated by The Office and 30 Rock concluding. Regardless, the first two at least are great moves for providing quality prime time shows.

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It is risky to try to predict where Mathew Weiner is going with Mad Men. There is a compelling theory making its rounds on line that Megan Draper’s storyline is a parallel to that of another aspiring actress, Sharon Tate. We have already seen signs of violence this season including an attempted robbery in Don Draper’s apartment and the Peggy accidentally stabbing Abe.  A review of the evidence for this theory can be found here and here.

Bruce Wayne Selina Kyle

RIP Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Fortunately death is not necessarily a permanent condition in the comics, and cats do have nine lives. I prefer to think of her eating in an outdoor bistro with Bruce Wayne as in the end of Dark Knight Rises.

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

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B

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

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

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

Clara Letter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clara Time Stream

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

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

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

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

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Trailer-Still-John-Harrison-Starfleet-570x242

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

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

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

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Trailer-Still-Starfleet-Council-570x242

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

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

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

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

Carol Marcus

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

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

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

Spock Uhura

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Agents of SHIELD; New & Returning Shows; Community; Person of Interest; The Newsroom

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Neil Gaiman’s second episode of Doctor Who, Nightmare in Silver, was weaker than his first episode, The Doctor’s Wife. Like so many  episodes this half-season, it wasn’t bad but came up short of what it might have been. The good thing about the episode is that Gaiman updated the backstory for the Cybermen which might be used in future episodes. He had less to say about the Doctor’s history than in The Doctor’s Wife except to reveal that it is foolish to try to beat the Doctor at Chess as The Timelords invented chess.

Gaiman accelerated the trend of making the Cybermen more like the Borg. (There has also been speculation that the Borg were originally based upon the Cybermen but I have never seen confirmation of this). Instead of assimilation, they upgrade. They upgrade humans, and now other species, with cybermites, and upgrade themselves to counter attacks. One problem with the episode was that upgrades were only used for dramatic effect in limited circumstances. The Cybermen upgraded to be faster, but in most scenes they continued to move slowly.

These Cybermen were shown to be far more dangerous. They are so dangerous that the standard reaction to finding one a a planet is to destroy the entire planet. Even an entire galaxy was destroyed to prevent the Cybermen from advancing. The problem with making an enemy this powerful is that ending each episode by imploding the planet would be tedious, and having the Doctor repeatedly defeat them in under an hour would be unrealistic–sort of how the Borg gradually changed from an unbeatable force when introduced on Star Trek The Next Generation to a race easily defeated by a lone starship on Voyager.

Warwick Davies stole the show as Porridge, later revealed to be Emperor Ludins Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff the 41st. It was unrealistic for the Emperor to just happen to be hiding on this planet, but now that the Doctor has met him it would be a shame for the two not to meet up again.

The episode has the obligatory (this season) homage to past Doctors with images of them displayed. There’s more to come next week, including a scene with Bessie driving by. There were not any obvious clues to the Clara mystery but Clara did learn that the Doctor considers her to be the impossible girl. We should be getting the answers next week, with this prequel released leading into The Name of the Doctor:

A Radio Times interview with Neil Gaiman is posted here. Gaiman’s interview with the official Doctor Who site is here.  Blastr has the story of how Steven Moffat got Neil Gaiman to update the Cybermen and make them scary.

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

The Doctor found a BAFTA in the TARDIS (video above). There is also more at the awards ceremony to honor Doctor Who:

Doctor Who is to be honoured with a special tribute to be shown at Sunday’s BAFTA television award ceremony.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will be marking the programme’s 50th Anniversary year by showing a video montage celebrating the long history of the show.

Current companion Jenna-Louise Coleman will also attend the ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London and will present one of the night’s awards.

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said:

There are only a handful of programmes that have the quality and longevity of Doctor Who and the ability to put the nation on their sofas – or indeed behind them – year after year. BAFTA raises a toast to Doctor Who on its 50th birthday this year.

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said the production team would be sending Daleks to patrol the red carpet:

This is a massive and exciting year for Doctor Who, so I’m thrilled that BAFTA are including a special tribute to the show. So thrilled, in fact, we’re sending the Doctor’s best friend, Jenna Coleman, to present an award. We’re also sending the Doctor’s worst enemy, the Daleks, to exterminate lots of innocent people. Sorry, it’s just what they do. Let us know if it’s a Health and Safety issue.

Doctor Who won the main BAFTA award for Best Drama Series in 2006 and has won many BAFTA Craft Awards since the series returned in 2005.

Watch out for spoilers this week. An error was made and some Blu-Ray sets with The Name of the Doctor has been shipped early and some copies of the episode are starting to appear on line. Some people are intentionally spoiling the show on Twitter so be careful in reading messages in response to mentioning Doctor Who.

Speaking of spoilers,  John Hurt may have revealed his role in the 50th Anniversary episode:

Mr Hurt, who lives near Cromer, earlier told the EDP he had just finished shooting a Dr Who 3D special in which he plays “part of the Doctor” in a “kind of trinity” which includes David Tennant.

Not surprisingly, ABC has picked up Agents of SHIELD, along with additional genre shows for next season. More on the cast of Agents of SHIELD here. Defiance and Revolution have both been renewed. In the overkill department, Once Upon A Time is both returning and getting a spin-off. Blastr has a run down of eleven new genre shows.24 might return as a 12 or 13 episode mini-series. Does this mean that the story will take place in real time over a shorter period of time or that the show will move faster than real time?

Community - Season 4

Community was also picked up for a fifth season and there are some rumors that Dan Harmon might return. (I’m not holding my breath, but hope it is true.) Chevy Chase is gone, and he was not missed in the episodes where he did not appear at all or only had minor roles. The finale showed once again that show runners David Guarascio and Moses Port may be sincere in their desire to continue the creative ideas of Dan Harmon but just do not understand how to carry this out.

Compare the season finale, Advanced Introduction to Finality, with Basic Human Anatomy, the episode written by Jim Rash which most critics consider the best of the season. The finale brought back The Darkest Timeline with a story which was ridiculous on so many levels. It centered around the impossible situation of people crossing over from The Darkest Timeline with the use of paint ball in a story which didn’t make much sense even if you accept this. Then it ended by revealing it all to be Jeff’s daydream. A daydream (if the story was good) would be fine as part of a story. It might have even worked earlier in the season, but the finale should not be almost entirely a day dream (especially when the dream storyline wasn’t all that good).

Dan Harmon would have been more subtle with the use of an alternative time line, as with Jim Rash with the body swaps in Basic Human Anatomy. If there were true body swaps, or if it was all a dream, I doubt the story would have worked. Instead Rash had characters behave as if they had swapped bodies to reveal more about the characters. Troy acted as Abed because he couldn’t cope with a relationship he is too immature to handle. Abed reciprocated by acting as if he was Troy to end the relationship. Of course we know why the Dean pretended to change bodies with Jeff. The flashing lights weren’t magic but just someone flipping the switches. While not plausible, it was all possible.

Next season is expected to pick up with the remaining members of the study group in their final semester. Jeff and Pierce have graduated. Presumably Pierce is gone forever, but they now have a more difficult job of getting Jeff into the episodes when he should no longer be at the study group’s table. Perhaps they will come up with another reason why Jeff needs another class, but that would make last season appear even lamer in retrospect.

Person of Interest finale

Person of Interest concluded the season with a strong two-part episode which more firmly establishes the show as science fiction. In earlier episodes the machine was simply a gimmick to set up a more conventional crime show of the week, but now the machine is an integral part of the show. Plus Amy Acker was back and Sarah Shahi is an excellent addition to the show. In some ways the show reminds me of Fringe, which gradually set up its mythology in earlier stand-alone episodes.

Aaron Sorkin’s show, The Newsroom, returns on July 14, with changes made to hopefully fix some of the problems from the first season. A promo video is below: