SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Eaters of Light Review and Chris Chibnall Hints At Plans For Next Season

Eaters of Light was a filler episode of Doctor Who before we get into the two-part season finale. It was written by Rona Munro, who wrote Survival, the last serial of classic Doctor Who. Some elements of the old serials could be seen compressed into this episode. Munro has also been working as a play write, and this could be seen in the excellent dialog of the episode, which helped make up for the weakness of its plot.

In some ways I felt like I was watching a different version of last week’s Empress of Mars. Like last week’s episode, it began with a brief scene in the present or near-future which raised a question–this time the TARDIS engraved on a stone. The story then went back to resolve the mystery. Like last week, the plot was pushed forward by Bill falling. Again there were the themes of redemption for cowardice, the folly of war, and the need for enemies to work together for their common survival.

Besides the minor mystery of the TARDIS being engraved on the stone, two other common ideas from Doctor Who were seen. An old mystery, in this case what happened to the Ninth Roman Legion  in the second century AD, was “answered.” We also “learned” a lot about crows and how they communicate.

Bill showed her science fiction geekiness in figuring out the telepathic autotranslation functions of the TARDIS, although this revelation would have made more sense earlier in the season. This came into play in also allowing the previously warring parties to communicate and settle their differences in order to work together. Bill’s sexual preferences were easily understood by a Roman soldier. Bill also played a role in motivating the others, which ultimately set them up for their sacrifice at the end: “If you come with me, I can’t promise that you won’t die but, I can promise you this: you won’t all die in a hole in the ground.”

Nardole played comic relief, initially going around in his bathrobe like Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Later he changed clothes and did some face painting to fit in with the natives.

The plot did have its problems. I was bothered early on when Bill just went off on her own with no weapons, no way to communicate, and no way for anyone to track her. This did propel the plot, and everyone did get together after being separated, as often happened over and over again in the classic serials.

The entire enemy creature was weakly described. After other episodes in which the “monster” turned out to not be entirely evil, with motivations which made sense, we had a rather simple monster here. It is best to ignore much of the explanation and settle with this:

The Doctor: “It’s as if his bones disintegrated.”

Nardole: “What could do that?”

The Doctor: “A complete and total absence of any kind of sunlight.”

Nardole: “Death by Scotland.”

It was predictable that the Doctor might be willing to spend eternity battling the monster to protect earth, but hardly clear how the gate works or how the humans, with their brief lifespans and no regenerations, could accomplish this. It is best to just move on and get back to the TARDIS where we were surprised by the presence of Missy. The Doctor has upset both Bill and Nardole by allowing her out, but for the moment it appears she is trying to be good. Unfortunately for the Doctor, that does not mean she sees things the same way as he does.

Missy: “Those little people, trapped in a hill, fighting forever – – is that really up to your bleeding-heart standards?

The Doctor: “You understand the universe, you see it, you grasp it, but you never learn to hear the music.”

We should learn soon whether Missy really is good, and the previews reveal (as was already known) that both the John Simm version of the Master and the Mondasian Cybermen play a part.

The upcoming two part episode and the Christmas episode will also mark the end of Steven Moffat’s tenure as show runner, and the end of the current configuration the Doctor and his current companions. We may have learned something interesting about next season from incoming show running Chris Chibnall:

Season 11 of Doctor Who is going to be new… very new. There will be a new Doctor, a new showrunner, and apparently a new format. Chris Chibnall, who is slated to come on board as showrunner in 2018, has hinted at going away from the monster of the week format and into a more broad series storyline. As long as the TARDIS allows.

The writer/producer, who is coming off of the blazing BBC hit Broadchurch is fond of season-long storytelling, proven through the compelling, addictive crime drama. As the new head honcho, the style could easily bleed into Doctor Who, giving the season one single storyline…

Though Chibnall stayed mum on most Doctor details (ahem, like who is going to play the Doctor), he did respond to the question if he would be allowed to do a whole-season story­line, like Broadchurch, rather than individual episodes. To which he responded: “Yes. What the BBC was after was risk and boldness.”

Considering how difficult it must be to come up with a fresh story every week, this might be a good idea. Chibnall showed that he can keep a season long story arc interesting on Broadchurch (with the first and third seasons far better than the second). More on Chris Chibnall here.

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Much more has happened in genre beyond Doctor Who, but I have had to limit the last couple of posts due to traveling. I still want to get to the question of whether Nora was telling the truth in the series finale of The Leftovers. Gotham ended the season with major character development for many characters, including Bruce Wayne. Dark Matter has continued from where last season left off, and is pushing some of its characters in new directions. Wynonna Earp has also returned on Syfy. I have not seen this series yet, but based upon recommendations of others it is now high on my list of series to catch up on. Orphan Black has also had major developments in its first two episodes, including the death of a clone. We are well into the revival of Twin Peaks, but still have not seen the real version of Special Agent Dale Cooper in the real world. I also just completed House of Cards, which is struggling to be even more outrageous than real life politics these days.

I am hoping to get caught up by next weekend to review some of these shows in greater detail.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who: Pyramid At The End Of The World (Or All We Need Is Love); The 100 Finale; CW Superhero Finales; 12 Monkeys Season 3 Binge

The Pyramid At The End Of The World was not as good as Extremis last week, but still an excellent episode. It does have some of the disadvantages of being the middle episode of a trilogy. This also makes it hard to criticize for apparent plot holes as I don’t know if there will be explanations in the finale. 

The episode seemed to once again tease the Doctor’s impending regeneration with this opening: “The end of your life has already begun. There is a last place you will ever go, a last door you will ever walk through, a last sight you will ever see, and every step you ever take is moving you closer. The end of the world is a billion billion tiny moments, and somewhere, unnoticed, in silence or in darkness, it has already begun.”

There was more misdirection as initially it appeared that the crisis involved the risk of conflict between the earth’s military forces, “at the strategic intersection of the three most powerful armies on earth,” but the actual danger was elsewhere. The concept of the Doctor being the President of Earth was always a silly one, but it did turn out to make sense here as Bill’s association with him gave at least slight credence to Bill negotiating with the Monks due to her association with him. Plus it allowed for this line when the term President was first raised: “How would I know the President? I wouldn’t even have voted for him. He’s… orange.” That pause allowed us to fill in many other adjectives.

Now we have poor Bill’s date being interrupted by the UN, after being interrupted in the simulation last week by the Pope. I do wonder why it was the UN and not UNIT.

There are other intrusions from our world beyond the orange president, the Pope, and the UN. Sometimes fictitious search engines are used, but in this episode Google was mentioned. This might be related to changes in BBC policy, with real brand names not being allowed in the past. Apparently this has changed as this week there was also a reference to Uber.

Besides the old idea of the Doctor being President of earth, they purposely extended the Doctor’s blindness from Oxygen to both put the Doctor in danger, and give Bill a reason to negotiate with the Monks. It is a shame that the door didn’t have a keypad instead of the type of lock it did. The Doctor probably could have entered the code on a keypad by touch and saved the world without need for anyone to surrender to the Monks. (“Hello, I’m the Doctor, saving the world with my eyes shut.”)

While there are certainly questions about how plausible this is, it was a clever idea to have the Monks take over worlds by modeling every moment in the history of a planet, and figuring out when they would be destroyed without the help of the Monks. Then they could be asked to save the planet (with saving the planet but not surrendering control not being a consideration.) With countless alien invasion stories having been written, it isn’t easy to come up with new twists. Of course it does seem far fetched that their models could have predicted the exact sequence of events here, starting with a woman’s glasses being broken because she used her bag to prop her door open. It is also notable that Erica just played the scientists’s role as any woman might, without mention of her stature.

Modeling to this degree was not the only area where the Monks had inexplicable powers. For example, while perhaps they might be able to reset digital watches which are set from a common source to the time of the Domesday Clock, how could they possibly reset all the analog watches on earth? I also question the mechanism by which they could instantly restore the Doctor’s eye sight from a distance. It must be either nanobots moving at superspeed, or magic.

We will see if there is more of an explanation for their powers next week. Perhaps there is some clue in the TARDIS-like nature of the pyramid. While we know that Missy is involved next week from the preview, could the pyramid be related to the Time Lords, and perhaps the John Simm version of the Master (who is also returning this season)?

Their rational used by the Monks is also difficult to understand. The basic premise might make sense: “We must be wanted. We must be loved. To rule through fear is inefficient.” However, they seem to base this on technicalities (not unlike how the Doctor is keeping Missy in the vault but failed to go through with executing in Extremis). While they demanded love, and rejected the surrender of the others based upon fear, Bill’s love was for the Doctor, not for the Monks, and does not translate to love from other humans. I am willing to accept this for now based upon the Monks being aliens, with needs and motives which humans do not understand.

As they have the ability to change their shape, I also do not understand why they took this shape. A true monk, or perhaps an angel, might have led to easier acceptance from humans. Perhaps the third part will answer some of these questions.

The CW Network had several season finales recently. The 100 was the most interesting, and the only one to have a better season than last year. The season was about survival, and late in the episode it looked like we might have the group in the bunker, the group going into space, and Clarke on earth (never doubting that she would survive). The final moments expanded upon this by jumping ahead. Clarke was not alone, and a prison transport ship was landing. Presumably these were real prisoners, not the same as the original 100 to be sent down to earth in the first season. This also leaves open the possibility of other survivors, both on earth and from space.

Jumping ahead leaves open the possibility of telling one story six years in the future, while still having flash backs about how everyone survived. There are bound to be interesting stories about each group. As I would expect, Jason Rothenberg did say that we will see these flashbacks in an interview about the finale with TV Guide:

We do get a glimpse of Clarke in the flash-forward, and she’s taking care of a Nightblood child. What can you reveal about the life Clarke made for herself after praimfaya and who this girl is?
Rothenberg:
She’s definitely got a maternal bond with that child. Her name is Madi, she’s a Nightblood, you’re right. They probably found each other at some point a few years into being the last person the planet. We’ll play with that in Season 5 and probably go back and tell that story. But her relationship, her connection to Madi, is now as strong as Abby’s connection is to Clarke. These two people are the only two people on planet Earth. They are each other’s everything and they’ve survived together. On top of the age difference, obviously leaning into a mother-daughter thing, they also are each other’s best friends and companions. They’ve only been together for the last however-many-years-ago they met. That’s way longer than Clarke ever knew really anybody other than the people she came down with in the show. So it’s going to be a very, very important relationship in Season 5.

What can you say about the identity of the people on the ship and how they’ll factor into next season?
Rothenberg:
It’s huge. That’s essentially teeing up the story for the next season, which is obviously what we like to do in our finales. It’s prisoners. If you look at the signage on the ship, there are some Easter eggs to sort of indicate who those people may be. It’s a prison ship. So to me, it was really a cool idea to essentially bring things full circle. The 100, when they landed, were prisoners. They were juvenile delinquents, but they were criminals and they found out they were not alone on the ground. And here we have this group of real hardened criminals coming back to Earth thinking that its abandoned and that its their planet to come back to, only to discover, of course, that Clarke is out there, at least when we start things. So they’re not alone just like our heroes weren’t when they first landed. So there’s a real cool symmetry to that and perspective switch.

I definitely sensed some sparks between Bellamy and Echo in the finale, and six years is a long time to be trapped together in space. What can you say about the state of their relationship moving forward?
Rothenberg:
Well, I’m not going to go there, really, with you right now. But definitely six years is a long time to be trapped in space with somebody. And Bellamy and Echo have always had sparks. Their relationship was certainly interesting from day one when they woke up trapped next to each other in Mount Weather. It’s been a long and winding road, and obviously that road’s not over yet… They’re all together in a group in space, so you never know!

Will we get flashbacks to what happened in the six years since praimfaya?
Rothenberg:
Well, for sure the point of a time-jump is to skip a bunch of stuff and put them in another place and try to figure out how they got that way. And the thrust of the story in Season 5 will be going forward and not going backward. But the stuff that we’re jumping, as we’re in the room breaking Season 5, that time period is so filled with great story potential that it’s safe to say that we’ll see some of it. We’ll see the key moments for sure.

 

More in an interview at BuddyTV.

I thought that the DC superhero shows on The CW Network all had a down year, and this was reflected in their season finales.

Despite a meandering season, I thought that Supergirl did improve for the end of the season. I did like the Daxamite invasion storyline at the end, and the return of Calista Flockhart. Hopefully she will be around more next season. There was finally confirmation that she realizes that Kara is Supergirl, which I already assumed after she quickly figured out that James Olsen was the Guardian from seeing only his eyes. The concluding episodes also featured a strong female supporting cast beyond Flockhart with Teri Hatcher, Katie McGrath, Lynda Carter, and Brenda Strong.

The episode had the frequent superhero trope of setting up a situation in which two superheros fight each other, with Supergirl beating Superman. Fortunately they made this brief and went on to fighting the invaders. After this was resolved, it ended with a look at Reign being sent from away from Krypton, and I  assume he will be the big bad for next season. It was probably for the best that they wrote out Mon-El, leaving him alive so there is a possibility of him finding a way to return in a future season.

I was disappointed that after all these episodes dealing with saving Iris on The Flash, the finale used a simple solution with a device introduced the previous week. It also felt awfully contrived to end with someone needing to be a prisoner of the speed force, and then only Barry volunteering. We know he will get out. Hopefully they will at least do something creative with him being there and how he does leave. The highlight of the episode for me was Cisco telling Wally to “reverse the polarity on the neutron flow.” For a show which has used so much timey wimey time travel, this homage to the Third Doctor fit right in.

I thought the least of the finale of Arrow. It just felt like a series of fights and pretending to change sides. The cliff hanger was even less suspenseful than on The Flash as there is no question most, if not all, got off the island in time. Just as the synopsis for the next season of The Flash (released last week) gave away the fact that Iris would return before the finale aired, the synopsis for Arrow in the same post tells who is returning. At least the flashbacks are now over.

Over on Syfy, 12 Monkeys had not only their finale, but the entire season last weekend. As I suspect that some did not have time to watch it all, I’ll avoid spoilers, but the season was excellent, even better than the second season. The season has a continuous story, working well for binging over a short period of time. Generally each episode was also a self-contained story, but sometimes one episode would go right into the next. There were major events and changes in the story to make each of the three nights feel like they were also coming to somewhat of a conclusion before going onto the next, and the story was more compelling by watching this all together.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and The Two Masters; Legends of Tomorrow Breaks Time; Surprises On The Magicians; A Wedding On Orphan Black?; Hugo Award Finalists; Netflix Marvel Shows; Renewals and Returning Shows


Thanks to time travel, there have been many episodes of Doctor Who which featured two or more Doctors from different regeneratons. In the upcoming season, not only will there be the return of Missy, but John Sims will be returning as The Master. The BBC reports:

John Simm will return as the Master to battle the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) in the forthcoming series of Doctor Who.

John Simm says: “I can confirm that it’s true, thanks to the power of time travel I’m back. It’s always a pleasure to work with this great team of people and I can’t wait for you all to see what the Master gets up to in the next series. “

Steven Moffat, writer and executive producer, says: “Nothing stays secret for long on Doctor Who but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see exactly what the Master is up to and how he makes his return to face the Doctor. It’s been a huge pleasure to have fan favourites John Simm and Michelle Gomez face to face in the same role! It’s not often you get to see a solo personality clash.”

John Simm was last seen as the Master on New Year’s Day 2010. Viewers will have to wait to see exactly when and how the Master will return to the new series, which starts on Saturday 15 April at 7:20pm on BBC One.

As previously announced, Doctor Who series 10 will also star Michelle Gomez as Missy – a later regeneration of the Master. Other returning foes include the Daleks, the Ice Warriors and – returning for the first time in over 50 years – the Mondasian Cybermen. An exciting line up of new faces and adversaries will debut across the series, including adorable-but-deadly Emojibots and David Suchet as the Landlord.

Steven Moffat has also been teasing a huge spoiler, to be revealed in a trailer to one of the episodes:

“This is just a public warning,” said a playful Moffat. “Some people hate spoilers and some people love spoilers – and everybody hates me whatever way they think about it. So this is my last attempt in this role to avoid hatred.

“At the end of the episode there will be yet another awesome trailer for Doctor Who… at the very end of the trailer there is, frankly, an enormous spoiler, a spoiler that may actually melt your brains. But I promise you, you’d be better off not knowing because awesome though it will be here, it will be even more awesome in a few weeks’ time. So we’re gonna give you the option, in our frankly camp and ridiculous way…

“There will come up a warning and then there will be a countdown to the spoiler, and then there will be a warning to ‘blink now’. If at that point you close your eyes and wait until you hear the cliffhanger noise, you will have a better experience in a few weeks’ time.”

Den of Geek has a spoiler-free review of the season premier.

Series ten will finally reveal the location of the TARDIS toilet. (“It’s down there. First right, second left, past the macaroon dispenser.”) It remains unseen.

Doctor Who TV has links to series ten interviews with Steven Moffat and the cast. In an interview elsewhere,  Peter Davison discussed how the regeneration scenes were hard for both himself and David Tennant.

There have already been shows such as Broadchurch and Victoria which include at least two actors who had previously appeared in the Doctor Who universe. Another example is coming. Look at the cast in this show discussed at Deadline:

Netflix has come on board BBC Two’s contemporary thriller Collateral as co-producer and will release globally outside the UK. As Deadline revealed last month, Carey Mulligan is starring in the David Hare created drama that explores the spiraling repercussions surrounding the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man. New cast includes John Simm (Life on Mars), Nicola Walker (Spooks) and Billie Piper (Doctor Who, Penny Dreadful).

Rose and The Master, plus staring Carey Mulligan, who played Sally Sparrow in Blink.

Legends of Tomorrow was considerably improved in the second season. After an apparently happy ending, the Legends wound up in a Los Angeles with a changed skyline with futuristic buildings and buildings from Victorian England, and dinosaurs. I wonder if they are intentionally using things which the Legends have encountered previously.  Screener discussed the aftermath of breaking time with showrunner Phil Klemmer:

It’s no secret that the Legends revisiting an event they’d already changed is bad news — and now in the Season 2 finale, that’s exactly what’s happening. What can you tell us about the episode?

I guess I’ll say this: We have to follow through on our promise. I think people would hate us if the Legends were able to perform this feat without any consequence… If this were a typical “Legends” episode, and ended with, “Alright, we didn’t get a lot of style points but we succeeded.” This really has to be different than a random episode throughout the season.

As a show, it’s always been designed to reinvent itself at the end of every season, whether that’s with the mythology or the characters or the stakes. The blocks that we build with are not designed to last from one season to the next. We’ve loved Season 2 and could continue writing this forever, but I don’t think that would be true to the spirit of the show, which is supposed to be wildly unpredictable and zany.

We had to have a seismic shift for our story, and one that will leave people scratching their heads for the next five months or whatever. I think the show is at its best when you watch an episode and honestly don’t know how the hell you got there. We never could have predicted that we would do an episode about George Lucas, or “Land of the Lost” dinosaurs. You can get a little too comfortable and we got good at doing the Season 2 thing. That’s precisely the moment where you have to blow the canon up again, you know? Crash this beautiful ship of ours and see where you land.

It’s scary — but it’s a challenge that I know, when we all sit down in the writers’ room for the first day of work, everybody’s going to be on the edge of their seat and eager to start talking, because nobody knows where we’re headed. And that’s exciting and terrifying.

While ‘Legends’ is telling a unique story, it still exists in a shared universe — your actions can be felt on other shows. Is that a line you have to walk — debating how much to blow up so it doesn’t impact ‘Arrow’ or ‘The Flash’?

It is funny. Kevin Smith said at Paleyfest how Barry has suffered endlessly for making one mistake, and we’ve sort of made a habit out of it. Usually when we’re in the Waverider and we’re traveling through time, we’re thinking the crossover is really the only time we have to make our worlds harmonious.

But you’re right, we have maybe made a really difficult challenge for ourselves. You’ll see in the last 45 seconds a different kind of mistake than we’ve ever made before — and the challenge of Season 3 is going to be coming up with a new mission-of-the-week… Because it’s not as easy as going back in time and keeping George Lucas in film school. That’s going to seem like a very two-dimensional surgical strike, compared to the historical messes that we have to clean up as a result of what we do in this finale. It’s exponentially more complicated.

Despite the changes on Legends of Tomorrow, Marc Guggenheim says we will not see dinosaurs in Central City on The Flash next season.

Last week’s episode of The Magicians had a dragon, a visit to the underworld (with bowling), and a lot of surprises. Eliot was surprised to find he was not going to get laid because a bunch of Fillorians and Lorians were turned into rats on Eliot and King Idri’s wedding day. Margo surprised Eliot when the truth serum forced her to confess, but then, surprisingly did something risky to try to fix everything. Eliot was also surprised to return to Brakebills. Senator John Gaines was surprised to learn why some people did what he wanted, and further surprised when he gave another Senator a heart attack. Julia was surprised to learn that Elysium is run by Miss Persephone. The biggest surprise was the sacrifice Julia made for Quenton, presumably now opening the door to bringing Alice back.

The Dragon got the best lines of the episode:  “You have 24 hours to return to the portal.” “Or…” “I sit patiently, waiting for you to come back. No, I eat you, I’m a fucking dragon, what do you expect?”

Deadline had a panel with cast and crew, and had some teasers for the final two episodes of the season:

With just two episodes to go, the team promised to go out with a bang (“They’re insane,” said Maeve. “Quite insane”). Added McNamara: “There’s been something for the entire season, and there’s a perpetrator behind these things that are going on, and you don’t know who it is… It’s kind of a giant whodunit.” Ralph confirmed that the April 19 finale will pull the rug out from under its characters, saying, “Just as these people think that they have real control over their lives and have made real decisions and have forward momentum and feel like they’re taking responsibility for things for the first time, we draw back the curtain and reveal that they’ve had no control – they’ve been pawns.” Gamble smiled. “Don’t you love a cliffhanger?”

Orphan Black returns for its fifth and final season on June 10. Several pictures and clips have been released, including this one which suggests that Cosima and Dephine are getting married:

 

The 2017 Hugo Award finalists are out. The awards will be presented on August 11, 2017. Here are the nominees for the two categories which include television shows and movies:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)
  • Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
  • Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)
  • Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)
  • Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
  • Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
  • Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
  • Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

Screenrant has looked at how the television version of Legion differed from the comics.

On a somewhat similar topic, Vulture compared how the ending of Big Little Lies compared to the book.

Netflix has revealed that The Defenders will be released on August 18, 2017.

Daredevil will start filming season three later this year, to be released in 2018.

Iron Fist has received a number of poor reviews, but I doubt I will go entirely without seeing it before watching The Defenders. Nerdophiles has a possible solution–listing the must see episodes and recommendations for those to skip. They even have a synopsis of the episodes they recommend skipping. It won’t save all that much time, only recommending skipping three episodes (the second, third, and twelfth). The first also also gets a poor review, but I assume the author recommends watching as it is the first episode and presumably does set up the show. In other words, it appears that the series doesn’t really become all that watchable until the fourth episode.

In this era of peak TV, there are many shows I have not had a chance to see which others say are worthwhile. I’ve heard a few people say great things about Wynonna Earp. Screen Rant gives fifteen reasons to watch. The first season recently became available on Netflix, and the second season begins on Syfy on Friday June 9. Syfy has announced that Dark Matter will also return on June 9 with two episodes. Killjoys will return on  June 30. I finally manged to binge watch Dark Matter in December, when other shows were on hiatus, and really enjoyed it. I didn’t get into Killjoys, but I only watched one episode and will give it another chance if there is another slow period.

Hulu has released the first three episodes of an anthology series entitled Dimension 404, which appears to be influenced by The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. I09 says these episodes are bingeworthy.

Netflix has renewed A Series of Unfortunate Events for both a second and third season. USA has renewed Colony for a third season.

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Magical Tahiti; Star Wars; Mad Man Return Date; Hannibal; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Gone Girl

tatiana-maslany-orphan-black-season-2

Orphan Black was one of the best new shows of last season, along with being one of the best genre shows of recent years. It returns to BBC America on April 19, with the producers having a three-season master plan outlined. There is additional news on the second season of Orphan Black here and here (minor spoilers):

– More boundary-breaking. “We are going to take some risks with our premise in the second season and we are going to push technically what we’ve done with the first season and our actors are really pushing the limits as well,” says Manson. Jordan Gavaris, who play’s Sarah’s BFF/foster brother Felix, prefers when he’s outside of his comfort zone. “It’s not a good thing if you get complacent, when you get comfortable and everything’s easy,” he says. “There should be that discomfort because that pushes you to take the risks to keep it interesting, to keep people engaged — and we’re scared!”

– Plot-wise, Sarah is frantically searching for Kira. The very first scene, which was screened for critics, takes place immediately after she discovers her daughter and Mrs. S. are missing. She frantically calls Felix and Paul, whose phones go to voicemail, but Paul calls back — except Rachel’s on the other end telling her to surrender herself. Naturally, Sarah hangs up, but then two menacing henchmen walk into the diner where she’s taken refuge from the rain and menacingly offer to take her to Kira. What happens next? Well, you’ll have to wait and see!

– Cosima is struggling with her mysterious respiratory disease. “Cosima to me has always been the one who’s the most fascinated with life, so it’s interesting for her to be facing her mortality and that’s really what we start to explore in Season 2,” Maslany says. Adds Manson, “It’s hard because she’s my favorite clone. We’re putting her in this really heartbreaking position, and yet she’s almost as brave as Sarah in a lot of ways. Narratively, examining her illness and looking into her own science is part of our mystery. She performs a really great story function in the second season as well, trying to get to the root of her own illness.”

– Ainsley’s death will continue to weigh on Alison. “Alison is an intense person to begin with, and the secret she’s keeping is really going to eat at her in an interesting way,” Manson says. “Alison’s got some explosions coming up.”

– Felix’s character will be fleshed out. “In Season 1 Felix was very much an integral cog in the mystery… and now I think what Season 2 helps to do is establish him outside of the clones as an individual with his own identity,” says Gavaris. “He has gone along and been that person who picks up the phone at 3 in the morning and I think it’s safe to say that the relationship with Sarah comes to a head and there’s a tough decision that’s going to be made — many tough decisions that are going to be made — and it’s not going to be easy.” While his relationship with Sarah might be tested, he will grow closer to some of the other clones.

Michelle Forbes has also been cast to appear in multiple episodes. According to TV Line, “Forbes will play Marian Bowles, a powerful new player at the Dyad Institute with a birds-eye view on the war between Sarah and Rachel.” Forbes has appeared in multiple genre shows including Star Trek: The Next Generation and Battlestar Galactica.

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Agents of SHIELD revealed some information about Agent Coulson returning from the dead. Apparently it involved a series of painful surgeries, with false memories of Magical Tahiti implanted to replace these memories. There was no real explanation as to how this managed to bring him back from the dead. I’m not sure if this is it and we are just to assume advanced medical procedures at SHIELD could accomplish this or if more is to come. At least this does eliminate some of the theories floating around, such as a room full of Coulson androids.

Agent Coulson is far from the only genre character to return from the dead. No surprise that Peter Parker is returning to the Spider-Man comics after having died last year with Dr. Octopus taking over his body.

Back when the Star Wars saga ended chronologically after the original trilogy, it didn’t matter much if different writers carried the story onward in different ways. Now that Disney is continuing the movies, it would seem to be an insurmountable job to try to maintain consistency. They did what was probably the only sensible option and have decided that the expanded universe is not canon. As I have not read any of the novels, I can’t say first hand, but I’ve also read comments that this is good because almost all of it was crap.

Among the various casting rumors regarding the next Star Wars movie, Jesse Plemons of Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad is reportedly being considered for a lead role. If he is to play an evil role, his time on Breaking Bad will make it easier to see him as a villain.

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Speaking of Disney, I hear that Saving Mr. Banks is an entertaining movie (and plan to see it in the future) but am not surprised to read that it got a lot of the facts wrong.

AMC has announced that the seventh season of Mad Men will begin April 13. While officially the last season, the season will actually be broken into two parts like Breaking Bad. Why don’t they just call these series of shows aired about a year apart separate seasons? Regardless, it will be interesting to see where they go after Don Draper was fired for the bizarre behavior we have grown to sort-of love over the last several years. AMC also announced that Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spin-off, will begin next November.

Screen Crush speculates on which characters might appear in season two of Hannibal based upon the book series.

Capaldi First Image

Filming has begun with Peter Capaldi playing the Doctor. Doctor Who will return in August. Current plans are for the next two seasons to be a single run (not counting the Christmas specials) as opposed to breaking them in half. Steven Moffat described Peter Capaldi’s Doctor as being more dangerous:

There would be little point in making as radical a change as we’ve made unless you’re going to go quite different with the Doctor. The last two Doctors have been brilliant, and have been your ‘good boyfriend’ Doctors. But the Doctor isn’t always like that. There is the sort of Tom Baker, Christopher Eccleston end of the spectrum, where he is mad and dangerous and difficult.

It remains open as to whether River Song will return:

It’s always down to whether there’s a good story. My immediate instinct was that story’s probably done. Not that we saw all of it, but I never thought we should see all of it. I’m slightly tempted, because I imagine Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston would be absolutely hilarious together…”

He adds: “She could certainly have met other Doctors. So there’s nothing stopping us… But is there anything new we can do? Or is the new thing that Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston would be very sexy together? Is that enough? We’ve always had fun with the fact that they don’t look like a couple.”

“Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston would look like a couple – that’s the thing. Whereas I thought Matt and Alex were gorgeous together, but it looked slightly strange, because he was so much younger. Alex is just great fun to have on the show. It’s when you want to throw the Doctor a bit, because what River does so well is to make him a bit on the back foot and a bit flustered.”

Moffat also answered questions about a crossover with Sherlock, being non-committal and saying “nothing is impossible.” The final episode of the third season of Sherlock aired tonight but Steven Moffat also says that the fourth and fifth seasons have already been plotted out. I will hold off on discussion of the the third season episodes as they have not yet been shown in the United States. A spoiler-free review of tonight’s episode, The Last Vow, can be found here. I plan to watch a download later tonight. From what I here so far, it is a more conventional mystery after last week’s episode, and I suspect will receive a better reception.

John Simm will star in a new BBC America paranormal drama series, Intruder. He previously stared in the BBC version of Life on Mars and has played The Master on Doctor Who.

Starz has released a trailer for Ron Moore’s series Outlander–video above.

Starz has also announced that Da Vinci’s Demons will return on March 22. Like Saving Mr. Banks, Da Vinci’s Demons is a fictionalized account of a real person. It is probably better enjoyed as an entirely fictional show and ignoring the use of real names or events.

There has been a lot of talk about Gillian Flynn making major changes in the movie adaptation of Gone Girl. I think that this was inevitable, both because of the different structure needed to tell a story in a movie as opposed to a book where the readers were being deceived, and to give people who read the book more reasons to see the movie. Some of stories dealt with a change to the ending. However readers of the book are quite aware that the crucial point was midway through the book with the specifics of the ending being far less important. I can easily see a more satisfactory ending being written without changing the essential story.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Snowmen; Merlin Finale; Fringe; Star Trek Into Darkness; Dexter; and Homeland

Doctor Who: The Snowmen airs on Christmas Day, introducing a new companion. Some clips and interviews can be seen in the video above.

Another clip from The Snowmen above.

Digital Spy interviewed Steven Moffat, who talked about the upcoming episodes of Doctor Who. He also denies internet rumors that William Shatner might play the Master:

William Shatner being The Master would be too confusing wouldn’t it? He’s Captain Kirk! It’s already confusing that there are now two Captain Kirks. But if I was considering it I wouldn’t tell you. I love William Shatner but John Simm is The Master… John Simm would beat [Shatner] up if he thought he was going to take that part.

Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Smith discussed how the Doctor met his new companion in the interview above.

Jenna Louise Dec 2012

The Telegraph interviewed Jenna-Louise Coleman:

What can Coleman do with the role of companion that hasn’t been done before? Does she believe that her character moves it into a new realm? ‘Yes I do!’ she says enthusiastically. ‘The Doctor really wants to find out about her. She is obviously very clever, possibly more clever than he is, so she’s a challenge. I really liked that about the role.’

Has she any idea just how this will change her life? ‘Well,’ she says, ‘on one level it already has! I’ve been filming non-stop since it was announced, so my life has really been taken over by Doctor Who and nothing else.’ When she has had some free time, such as the occasional weekend, she has returned to the flat in London she shares with three of her childhood friends.

‘It’s refreshing,’ she says. ‘We all do different jobs now. I have to work the hardest at maintaining my friendships, though, because I am never around. I suppose my friends are very tolerant.’ She says the same goes for her relationship with her boyfriend, Richard Madden, the Game of Thrones star. ‘We both work hard,’ she says. ‘But he’s coming back from filming soon, so …’ She shrugs. ‘It’s good, work is good.

Merlin Finale

The Diamond of the Day, the two-part series finale of Merlin, received excellent reviews before it aired and another review can be found here. The series finale will air on Christmas Eve.

Fringa Nina

Fringe showed the end of Nina’s story, at least until a possible reset which was mentioned in the previews. While she killed herself to avoid interrogation by the Observers while hiding the child Observer, Nina would have been in trouble regardless of the events of this weeks episode as the Observers had already figured out that she was  source of the concrete-melting device used in a previous episode. The episode also revealed that Donald and September are the same person, leaving questions as to  whether September was once a normal human and how he became an Observer. Perhaps the arc showing Peter place the device in his neck was to set up the possibility of a human becoming an Observer.

Star Trek Into Darkness

J.J. Abramas has said more than he has revealed in the past about the plot of Star Trek Into Darkness and the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch:

So this movie doesn’t require you have seen the first movie. The characters are a group of people who have recently come together and find themselves up against this incredibly terrifying force. His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an average – that is what makes him so scary – he is just an average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet, and he turns against the group because he has got this back-story and this kind of amazing secret agenda. After two very violent attacks, one in London and one in the US, our characters have to go after this guy and apprehend him. And it is a far more complicated and difficult thing then they ever anticipated. “Into Darkness” is very much about how intense it gets and really what they are up against.

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Dexter and Homeland concluded their seasons last week. Dexter is heading toward the end, which probably will not be good for a serial killer. Dexter has killed at least three people who do not meet his code before the season finale: someone he mistook for a killer in Season 4, the guy in the bathroom after Rita’s murder, and Hannah’s father. With LaGuerta, not only is Dexter willing to kill someone who is innocent but Debra pulled the trigger. Hannah (Yvonne Strahovsk) ominously left Dexter a black orchid after escaped policy custody, and the producers are hoping to bring her back for another season.

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Homeland left Brody on the run and presumably they will find some way to get him back into the main action next season. Perhaps he will find information on a terrorist plot while on the run, or perhaps it will turn out that he has more knowledge which the CIA needs to obtain from him. As he is using Carrie’s network, it wouldn’t be implausible for Carrie to track him down. Carrie already believes Brody is innocent. Saul should also realize that Brody was set up, knowing that the confession tape had been filmed quite a while previously and was in the hands of others. As Brody’s daughter believes that Brody did not plan a suicide bombing this time, room is left open for reconciliation with his family. It would be harder for Brody to publicly be seen as innocent. They certainly cannot say that the tape was made not now but before a previous planned suicide bombing. Perhaps the most plausible story would be that Brody had been forced to make this tape while still a prisoner, and broken to the extent that he would read anything.

How I Met Your Mother has been renewed for a ninth and final season, dragging out the explanation as to how Ted met his wife for yet another year.

Walking Dead has been renewed for a fourth season but Glen Mazzara, is leaving as show runner.

SciFi Weekend Part I: Doctor Who and The Prisoner

John Simm David Tennant the Doctor and the Master

There’s a lot of news coming out of Comic-Con this weekend. Because of all the news and a chaotic schedule this weekend I’m going to alter the usual format and post SciFi Weekend in installments, beginning with information on Doctor Who and the upcoming Prisoner miniseries.

Among the Doctor Who news, it does not look like the rumored movie is going to be movie, at least for now. The rumors that John Simm will return as The Master have been confirmed. Io9 has interviewed David Tennant about why his version of The Doctor acts as he does:

I think he feels guilty. I think he’s in a very difficult position. He has to make the hard choices, and he’s riddled with remorse for what happened to his people, and the part he played in that, which we’ll learn a little bit more about before I disappear. [Laughs] Not that much, just a little bit. It’s not the three-part miniseries staring [former 1990s Doctor] Paul McGann. But I think he’s tortured, and he travels time and space trying to make it better… but some of the side effects of that are not as we’d wish them to be.

After leaving his role as The Doctor,  David Tennant is being considered to play Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming movie adaptation of The Hobbit. That will be the strangest regeneration of all time.

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A number of pictures of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan playing the next Doctor and his new companion are appearing on line now that they have begun filming episodes for next season. Additional pictures can be seen here and here.  Note that Alex Kingston is also in the above picture. Is she reprising her role as River Song to complete the story about her relationship with The Doctor? While it has been stated that Stephen Moffat is not likely to use the supporting characters from past seasons, the episodes with River Song were written by Moffat making it more likely he would use the character again.

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I09 also has a lot of information from Bill Gallagher who is writing the reboot of The Prisoner for AMC. He was asked if  he pictured original series lead Patrick McGoohan when writing the series:

No, I deliberately didn’t do that, I didn’t think of an actor at all… I won’t cast it in my head, because then I box myself in, and I can’t do that. It has to be this imaginary character. I didn’t have McGoohan in my head because [this Prisoner] is a different kind of Number Six, he’s a different character, he has different attitudes. In the beginning of the series, Six wakes up the middle of the desert, no idea where he is, no idea how he got there, no idea what to do, and immediately he’s hurled into an event, which is this old man is trying to escape, he’s being pursued by soldiers. And he rescues this old man. For me, in my head, that’s McGoohan, the old Six. And that old man dies. In my head, he dies to allow us to imagine a new Number Six. McGoohan said that the end plate on the old series should’ve said “The Beginning,” because the cycle goes on, and so in my imagination, [that scene is where] one cycle ends and another cycle begins. And so that scene allowed me to imagine my own Number Six.

There will be some reminders of the original show:

There are lots of little things. Some of them are visual, some of them are story, stories that we were inspired by, and also some of them are little lines of dialogue. One of the difficulties we have is that we’re aiming for 45 minute episodes and some of them come in very long, we have to cut for story, so some of that gets lost, unfortunately. But there’s still a good deal of it in the show. Partly as a way of building on that series, partly as a little fun thing, and partly thematic… This bloody place goes on and on and on, you know? In episode two, Six gets involved in a trip to a place called Escape Resort, and when you go to Escape Resort, it’s like the original Village, and people are dressed like they were in the original Village.

On the conclusion of the miniseries:

The final episode has a climax, it has a conclusion, there’s a reversal, and there’s explanations and revelations, but they’re not conventional, and I hope they’ll be shocking, you know, that people will not expect this ending at all. What I hope is that, what we get in the end is more disturbing than where we were at the beginning… When we get to the end, what I hope is that people will get challenged by it, and disturbed by it, in the way that the original challenged and disturbed. What I hope people will feel is that there’s a sense of, ‘I know what that’s about, I think I know, oh my God, this was that and that was this, so that’s how it works. But I don’t like it.

SciFi Weekend Part II: Planet of the Dead

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This year we are limited to a series of Doctor Who specials instead of the weekly episodes. For Easter, Planet of the Dead, seemed like filler while waiting for the final two episodes for both Russell T. Davies and David Tennant. This post does contain some spoilers but I’ll avoid giving away the entire plot for the benefit of those who have not seen it yet.

The show opened with Lady Christina de Souza, played by Michelle Ryan, stealing an antique goblet. During her escape she wound up on a double decker bus with The Doctor. The bus went through a worm hole and wound up in an alien desert filmed in Dubai. I actually enjoyed the portions at the start of the show and at the end after they managed to return to London better than the  portion on the alien planet. Like with the Christmas special, the relationship with the episode’s companion was far more interesting than the menace faced.

The Doctor continued to show his pain from losing Rose and Donna, turning down Lady Christina’s request to join him out of fear of being hurt once again from a companion leaving him. There werewarnings to The Doctor that his “song is ending.” There was also a  possible reference to The Master returning “from the darkness.” Whatever is to come will “knock four times.”

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Before the episode aired, Russell T. Davies gave an interview which include his thoughts for the future of the show:

Finally, moving back to Doctor Who, have you had to co-ordinate much with Steven Moffat when he takes over?

We talk a lot, but it’s a very clean break. He needed to know where he was picking it up from.

Anything you’d hope for?

If I was working on series five of Doctor Who, I would bring back Michelle Ryan at the drop of a hat. I think she’s absolutely glorious. But I doubt that he will – he doesn’t need to pick up old characters of mine, although he might bring back some old monsters. He’s just brilliant at creating stuff, and needs to make it absolutely his.

Is there anything you can tell us about your last episode yet?

People already know that Bernard Cribbins is back. He’s in it as a proper companion, for the full two episodes. And to have the Doctor with Wilfred at his side is one of my best decisions, ever. I’m so pleased with it – it’s just lovely.

And there’s those paparazzi shots of what looks like John Simm – is it him?

Maybe. It’s not quite as easy to guess what’s happening as you think – there’s nightmare sequences, and layers of fantasy, because the Doctor’s coming to the end of his time. It’s quite interesting to watch things being filmed, and think: ‘Oh, I can see what that would look like…’

You’ve had him save the Earth, the universe, the multiverse… how do you provide a fitting send-off for David’s Doctor?

Don’t worry. I have.

I knew I’d write David’s last episode one day, so I’ve had this tucked away. You do think: ‘How can the stakes get bigger?’ And they do. They really do. I don’t mean just in terms of spectacle, but in terms of how personal it gets for him. It’s such an honour to write for that man, and I really mean that. He’s the loveliest man. SUCH a good actor. When it comes to the last episode, there is no way I would let him down.

Finally – really finally this time – are the Daleks the best villains in the world?

Yes. Better than anything, ever. Better than Darth Vader. Better than Satan. Better than words. I love them. My greatest joy is them working again, after all these years. Everyone said we should redesign them – everyone. Literally everyone said: ‘Here’s a modern version of a Dalek.’ And it’s the one thing I dug my heels in about, purely on instinct.

It looks like a good decision now, but felt like madness at the time. I said you can beef it up, you can make it look better, but you’re not changing the design – not just the design, but the proportions, the distance between the slats, the relationship between the eye and the sucker. I literally stood there like a wall, holding back the flood. And I was right. Thank God! There was a little voice saying ‘You’re an idiot’, so the fact I listened to the voice saying ‘You’re right’ was a miracle. And when you see the kids clutching the toys, and wearing the T-shirts – they love them.

There is no doubt that Stephen Moffat will make the show his. His episodes have always stood out from the rest. Doctor Who also has a long tradition and I don’t see any problem with Moffat taking advantage of that, including bringing back some of Davies’ characters if they go along with Moffat’s overall plans.

If Bernard Cribbins is coming back, what of Donna? Cribbins did play her grandfather. It is rather sad that Donna not only had to leave The Doctor but lost all memory of her time with him. There have been rumors that there will be a resoluton to this before the end of the David Tennant era.

SciFi Weekend: US Version of Life on Mars Successful; The Final Cylon; Doctor Who Archival Material; Batman Dies; And Fifty Reasons To Have Sex

Developing an American version of a British television show does not always work, such as with Coupling. The American version of Life on Mars has been far more successful. The co-creator of the BBC version told The Hollywood Reporter he approves of the American version, even if it goes in a different direction than the original:

The co-creator of the BBC’s “Life on Mars” gives high marks to the new version across the pond as being in the same gritty spirit as the British version.

“I think it’s marvelous,” said co-creator Ashley Pharoah, who was in Manhattan on Monday to pick up the show’s second International Emmy for best drama. “We’re really very proud of it.”

Pharoah said he understands that the U.S. version was likely to take a different direction than the British version. After all, “Life on Mars” went a planned 16 episodes where the ABC version could have a first season of 22 episodes and maybe more if it’s picked up.

“They’re changing the mythology, which I think is all right,” Pharoah said. “It has to be different. Otherwise everyone just goes on YouTube and sees how it ends.”

And about that ending, a decidedly downbeat conclusion required, in part, because actor John Simm, didn’t want to do more that 16 episodes. Pharoah said he has been talking to the writers of the ABC show but doesn’t know how it’ll end.

“Even we worried about that,” said Pharoah. “Some people back home didn’t like the ending, but that was the end we had in mind from the beginning.”

Writer-producer Cameron Roach also doesn’t mind the changes.

“I think it’s good that it ends in a different way,” Roach said. “It keeps the American audiences guessing.”

There is considerable speculation as to who will be revealed as the final Cylon when Battlestar Galactica returns. SyFy Portal gives a rundown of the speculation with the top five candidates. The top five candidates are rumored to be, in alphabetical order, Lee Adama, Felix Gaeta, Laura Roslin, Elen Tigh, and Cally Tyrol.

Fans of the original Doctor Who series will be interested in the archival material the BBC has posted on line here. For more modern information, The Daily Telegraph has an interview with David Tennant. The BBC has also released a synopsis of the upcoming Christmas special:

It’s Christmas Eve in 1851 and Cybermen stalk the snow of Victorian London, in this special Christmas edition of Russell T Davies’s Bafta Award-winning time-travelling drama. When the Doctor arrives and starts to investigate a spate of mysterious deaths, he’s surprised to meet another Doctor, and soon the two must combine forces to defeat the ruthless Miss Hartigan. But are two Doctors enough to stop the rise of the CyberKing?

A twelve foot float honoring Star Trek was included in the 72nd Annual Sun Bowl Parade in El Paso, Texas this Thanksgiving Day. We can expect to see a lot more of Star Trek leading up to the upcoming movie, include a series of four comics leading into the movie.

Stan Lee, creator of comics including Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk and The X-Men, was one of  nine recipients of the 2008 National Medal of the Arts at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

Last year Captain America died. Now it appears that Bruce Wayne has died and someone else might be taking over as Batman.

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Among the various shows on in the past week, there was the season finale of True Blood, Dexter learned that Miguel has not been honest with him, leading me to be even more suspicious that Dexter will wind up killing him as I discussed last week, and How I Met Your Mother presented a new technique to get a woman into bed–The Naked Man. Ted and Barney tried out various poses in the video above. At least if Ted was going to try this he only did so after he was certain he had no interest in ever seeing the woman again as in most cases this would be the most likely result.

While I doubt it would be very successful, except in cases where sex was already a sure thing, the idea was off the wall enough to make for an entertaining episode. Another highlight was Lily compiling a list of 50 Reasons to have SEX. TV Squad got a copy of the original list as written on a napkin at MacLaren’s Irish Pub. Click on the image below for a larger version.