SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Trinity & Barney; Toy Story Returns; Tyra Collette is Wonder Woman, Alessandra Torresani As Princess Leia Slave Girl

This week’s Fringe was not one of the greatest episodes in the show’s history but it did move the story forwards slightly. We saw  signs that the problems faced by the alternate universe are beginning on this side and the relationship between Peter and Olivia move forwards. The episode also served to demonstrate that the conflict between the two universes is not one of good versus evil but each side taking the steps felt necessary to protect itself.

The story probably did work best with Mr. and Mrs. Merchant letting go, realizing they were seeing alternate versions of their spouses and not their actual dead spouses, so that the rift would close. It might have been more interesting, however, if they could have had one cross over to the other side. While neither would really be united with their dead spouse, having the version from the alternate universe would have been the next best thing. Could they have continued their former relationships in this manner, somewhat analogous to Peter unknowingly having a relationship with Fauxlivia instead of Olivia?

Apparently Peter was always intended to become involved with our Olivia, with next week’s episode showing them together as children.

Spoiler TV has more from a conference call with Fringe executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman:

When it comes to Olivia and Peter:
Things “will get worse and better,” said Pinkner. “Since Olivia returned and their relationship sort of shattered, they’ve been trying to pick up the pieces. They’ve been getting closer and they will continue to, but the problems that they’re dealing with are going to continue to complicate … We’re throwing a whole bunch of things at them.” That includes last week’s revelation that Faulivia (aka Bolivia or the alternate Olivia) is pregnant with Peter’s child.

“We’re always trying to get deeper, more complex emotions because we find that’s a really rich area for us to investigate in,” said Wyman. “There are so many facets to a real relationship, and these are incredible circumstances that they’re going through. But we try and make it as deep as we can. So you’ll see a whole bunch of shifting still to come in the entire rest of the season.”

As far as Peter’s shape-shifter killing ways:
Peter’s been killing shape-shifters and keeping it a secret from Olivia and the Fringe team. But “there’s a reason,” said Wyman.

And “Peter will come clean soon enough,” added Pinkner.

Peter has been more concerned about what the shape-shifters are up to “than anybody else on our show. There’s a drawing of him standing inside that machine. So he’s got questions, and by nature he’s a character who for years has only relied on himself,” he said.

“This season was always going to be a season about self-actualization for a lot of the characters. So this is the beginning of those steps,” said Wyman.

There’s still two of almost everything:
“We get to do two shows about one show. So that turned into a great thing,” said Wyman. And that allowed them to explore things like the murder of alternate Broyles “and having our Broyle actually stand next to his own dead body.”

“I think we knew how much there was to discover with Walternate and Bolivia and how much those two characters would provide a counterpoint and shed light on their alter egos that we’ve known for going on three seasons now.” said Pinkner. “I think one of the things that’s been really fun for us [was] the dynamic between Lincoln and Charlie and Bolivia and the energy of the stories on the other side. It feels like a different version of our show that just has a different inherent rhythm and different inherent chemistries in those characters, and that’s been really joyful for us.”

And speaking of the joy of the Other Side:
“What we discovered was that the energy of Lincoln and Charlie and Bolivia made up for the lack of Walter,” said Pinkner. “Obviously Walternate’s John Noble was in the episodes, but energetically and rhythmically it made up for missing Walter, so rather than recognizing or discovering that, it became a creative challenge. The discovery for us that was really wonderful was that it was a joy to go to the other side, and it was really a joy to explore another version of our show with cases that affected everything happening on our side with characters that we, as writers, had come to love.”

While Pinkner admits that fans started out “inclined to hate Bolivia, slowly over time they’ve started to … whether or not people want Peter to be with Olivia or Bolivia is a separate issue. But at least as far as we can tell, people are finding the relationship between the characters on the other side and the stories we’re telling on the other side charming and also really intriguing. It’s just deepening everything that’s happening over here. So rather than a challenge, we actually found it to be a really great creative outlet.”

Extinct sheep, myth-a-lones and the dangerously out of control Over There:
“The other side gives us an opportunity to do some pretty wild things, as you can imagine, because things are dangerously out of control there,” said Wyman. “So we’re fascinated enough with the notion that things we take for granted, like sheep for example, don’t exist over there because they were killed out by this beetle.”

Pinkner and Wyman continue to embrace what they call myth-a-lones, “where you’re watching the freak of the week type of concept, but it’s connected to our mythology. You’re going to see a lot of things … taking things and tropes that we know in our world and sort of turning them on their head,” said Wyman.

When it comes to Sam Weiss:
The mysterious bowling dude who has helped both Nina Sharp and Olivia, could be a good guy or a bad one. According to Wyman, “You know, don’t trust that Weiss.”

“If anybody unfurled the anagram that was on the chalkboard in Walter’s lab on the other side, it said, ‘Don’t trust Sam Weiss,'” said Pinkner.

“Sam is a character that I feel safe in saying that he still has many, many, many, many layers to reveal, and his motivations will become clearer and you’ll get a better understanding. I’m saying that we’re not going to keep pushing it down the line and not answering it, because that frustrates everyone. You’re going to find out about him. Hopefully it will be something that you don’t see coming,” said Wyman.

If you’ve been paying attention, things will fit together:
“If you go back into season one and you see the bus … There was a pattern episode that the bus had amber on it. I don’t know if you remember that, but the truth is the people here didn’t really know what amber was. They really didn’t understand what it was, but we knew,” said Wyman.

“So it’s like you can really set things up and they can pay off in really great ways. I think there’s a lot of that stuff coming up that will demonstrate the forethought, and the keen viewer will be able to say, ‘Oh, my gosh. Oh, I remember that.’ Now that’s taken on a whole different meaning. The only way that we can do that is if we know where we’re going.”

“The truth is we’ve been setting up season four in brush strokes very early on in season two, and we’ve been setting up what we imagine, with luck and grace and hoping we stay on the air this far, we’ve been sort of setting up season five since season one. It’s just a matter of whether we have the good fortune of getting to tell these stories,” said Pinkner.

“We need more time, and we’re trying to tell thematic stories,” said Wyman. “The multiple levels that we like takes time. I’m sure that we fall short of our goals all the time, but there’s enough fear every week, and like okay, what story are we going to tell this week … We have kind of a blue print.”

Joshua Jackson (Peter Bishop) has also discussed the show recently, including his thoughts on the First People.

While the major quest on  How I Met  Your Mother is Ted’s prolonged personal journey before meeting his eventual wife, there is also Barney’s quest to find his father. Imagine the shock when it turns out to be the Trinity killer. Well, not really, but Barney’s father, Jerome Whitaker, will be played by John Lithgow in two episodes. This is Lithgow’s first television role since playing Trinity on DexterHIMYM co-creator Carter Bays joked that there are some similarities between Jerome and Trinity:

“[Jerome] is [also] a family man who lives in the suburbs [but] he’s not going to be naked in the bathtub strangling someone,” he quipped.

Toy Story Barbie Ken

Toy Story 3 wasn’t the end of the toys. Pixar is going to release at least two shorts with the Toy Story characters, with the storyline of only one of them having been released:

The short that will be shown in front of ‘Cars 2’ will focus on the characters of Barbie and Ken after their exploits in ‘Toy Story 3’. After being left behind for their Hawaii vacation, Buzz Lightyear and Woody attempt to recreate a Hawaii paradise to please the disappointed Barbie and Ken.

In a follow-up of last week’s story, it now looks hopeful that a Robocop statue will be built in Detroit with private donations.

Taylor Kitsch Adrianne Palicki Wonder Woman Friday Night Lights

Adrianne Palicki, Tyra Collette on Friday Night Lights has been signed to play Wonder Woman in a remake which NBC finally picked up after all the networks had rejected it. I’m sure Tim Riggins and Landry Clarke agree in considering her a Wonder Woman. There are also rumors that Oliva Wilde will play Laura Croft in a movie remake.

I’ve had a number of posts with pictures of actresses in the old Princess Leia Slave Girl costume. The video above, Nerding Out – Tonight I’m Frakking You, features Alessandra Torresani of Caprica in the outfit along with multiple other science fiction references.

Previous pictures here (Kelly Brook) and  here (Kristen Bell & Olivia Munn), with a picture of the original is here. Interviews with the stars of Tonight I’m Frakking You in the video below:

SciFi Weekend: A Split Season for Doctor Who; Implications of Rita’s Death; Merlin Promo; Jessica Alba in Spy Kids

Doctor Who Christmas Special Matt Smith

In recent  years Doctor Who has concluded with big stories which are wrapped up in two episodes, but they have not concluded with big cliff hangers due to the long wait for the show to return. Steven Moffat had decided to change the schedule to have seven episodes with a big cliff hanger and then return three months later for the second half of the season:

“The split series is hugely exciting because viewers will be treated to two premieres, two finales and more event episodes. For the kids it will never be more than a few months to the next Doctor Who! Easter, Autumn, Christmas!!”

The BBC press office describe the split transmission as the result of a request from Steven Moffat to write a new Doctor Who story arc which involves a big plot twist in the middle of the series. “By splitting the series Moffat plans to give viewers one of the most exciting Doctor Who cliffhangers and plot twists ever, leaving them waiting, on the edge of their seats, until the autumn to find out what happens.”

The Guardian has a video of Moffat discussing this change. In another video Steven Moffat and Karen Gillan responded to accusations that the last season of Doctor Who was too sexy.

In other Doctor Who news, the first official picture from the Christmas special was released, but it doesn’t reveal any information.  Matt Smith was interviewed about an upcoming tour and other topics.  Sylvester McCoy is trying for a role in The Hobbit.

Above is the promo for Season 3 of Merlin.

The cast of Dexter talks about Rita’s death in this post at Buddy TV.  If you want to search for clues as to what happens next, Screen Rant has several pictures from the upcoming season.

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba has been signed to star in Spy Kids 4.

The new movie centers on Alba as a retired spy who has been reactivated. The actress, mother of a toddler in real life, will be playing the mother of a baby and two preteen stepchildren.

The actors cast in the preteen roles will be the new Spy Kids.

Other roles seeking to be filled include Alba’s husband, a slightly nerdy investigative reporter, and the villain, known as the Time Keeper, whose goal it is to stop time.

I imagine this will be another unrealistic movie. A nerdy investigative reporter married to Jessica Alba? Not likely. I wonder if any of the movie takes place on MILF Island.

More actresses who have appeared in genre shows will appear in Scream 4 including Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars & Heroes), Anna Paquin (True Blood), and Hayden Panettiere (Heroes).

Cristina Hendricks London Fog

Christina Hendricks of Mad Men appears in an ad campaign for London Fog (above). I bet Don Draper would approve. In response to the Japanese businessmen in last week’s episode, I won’t even try to explain what keeps her from falling over.

SciFi Weekend: The Lodger, Torchwood Filming News; A New Series From Alan Ball; and Another Recreation of Princess Leia as Slave Girl

Matt Smith Nude Scene

This week BBC America broadcast The Lodger, the last episode of Doctor Who before the two-part season finale. Spoilers are included for this episode only as I impatiently wait for BBC America to get caught up so I can write about the season finale and fez hats.

This was unfortunately an Amy Pond-lite episode, but still an entertaining one. The Doctor was stranded on earth and had to figure out what was messing with time to save Amy from being lost in the Tardis forever. Fitting in was not easy for the Doctor, but he did turn out to be a fantastic soccer player (with the episode airing just before World Cup coverage on the BBC).

The episode was largely a stand alone episode but it did include references to other evens of the season. The house where the Doctor rented a room had a card for the Vincent van Gogh exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay on the refrigerator. Many reviewers have noted that a crack on the wall was shown at the end. While it was shown most prominently at the end of the episode, I also noted that it was shown briefly earlier. The most significant event was that Amy, while searching for a pen, found the engagement ring from Rory. Clearly this story line did not conclude with Rory being pulled into the crack and disappearing from time.

Matt Smith had one of the rare nude scenes in Doctor Who history, appearing dressed in only a towel, creating some controversy Ironically Smith has previously appeared on television undressed in such a manner, and it happened to be in a scene with a former companion of an earlier Doctor. Smith played one of Billy Piper’s clients in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, also dressed only in a towel.

Van Gough Card in Doctor Who: The Lodger

The Doctor In The Tardis has some limited news, and a bit of speculation, on the filming of the next season of Torchwood:

It has been confirmed by Gavin Barker Associates that John Barrowman will only be filming Torchwood in the US from January to June. That’s roughly about 16 weeks worth of filming, before coming back to the UK.

Assuming Eve Myles was correct in her statement earlier this week about a 7 and a half month shoot, it could mean that the other 3 and a half months shooting will be taking place in the UK, especially as John Barrowman has previously stated he will be appearing in all episodes of the new series.

Alan Ball already is responsible for two of the greatest television shows of all time, Six Feet Under and True Blood. Both deal with death, and if HBO wants another series on this topic Ball is obviously the person to turn to. Deadline Hollywood reports that HBO has ordered another pilot from Alan Ball:

HBO has greenlighted a pilot for All Signs of Death, a dark comedic drama based on Charlie Huston’s 2009 crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. Ball is executive producing and directing the pilot, which was written by Huston. The project, which is now casting for an August production start date in Los Angeles, centers on an inveterate twenty-something slacker who stumbles into a career as a crime scene cleaner, only to find himself entangled with a murder mystery, a femme fatale and the loose ends of his own past. “It’s not so much about the crime, it’s about the personal story of the central character and his journey back to being fully connected with his life after some very traumatic things,” Ball said.

As a director, Ball will experiment with smaller, portable cameras for a cinema verite style. “The show is about contemporary Los Angeles, but not the glamorous LA, it’s about the dirty underbelly of LA,” Ball said. “We’re going to try to go against the grain, away from the overlit, stylized noir for a more frantic, contemporary, naturalistic style.” Ball is executive producing All Signs of Death through his company, Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, under his overall deal at HBO. Huston is co-executive producing, with Your Face executives Christina Jokanovich and Peter Macdissi also producing.

Kelly Brook dresses in the Princess Leia slave girl outfit

Many actresses have dressed in versions of the Princess Leia slave outfit from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, including Kristin Bell and Olivia Munn. Pictures of these two can be seen here, and a picture of the original is here. Kelly Brook has created several Princess Leia poses for Total Film, including the Leia slave girl pictured above.

SciFi Weekend: Abrams On The Next Star Trek Movie; Wil Wheton on Big Bang Theory; Shocking Finale for Dexter; Lauren Graham; Olivia Wilde; Kristen Bell; and the PB & J Wedding

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J.J. Abrams has talked more about the sequel to his Star Trek movie in an interview with Cinematical:

Since you were able to wipe the slate clean with your prequel, do you plan to come up with something completely original, or is there a possibility you will reference some of the existing creatures or races in the next installment?

Abrams: The fun of this movie series is that we will have the opportunity, given its alternate timeline, to cross paths with any of the experiences, places and characters that existed in the original series. We have to be really careful, obviously, doing that. I don’t want to do something that is so inside that only die-hard fans will appreciate.

Will the first film’s alternate timeline affect what you can leave in and what can’t be a part of subsequent films?

Abrams: The trick in doing any movie, but especially something like this that involves some weird alternate reality-time travel thing is that you don’t want to not explain it, but you don’t want to explain everything. I think you have as much fun with the missing pieces as you do with the pieces you get. So, for me, not knowing every detail, allows me to get inside of the story and start to fill in the blanks. When everything is spoon-fed, typically I feel like you’re being pandered to, or it’s too expositional. It’s always a balance.

You managed to contemporize what was an aging franchise, with your work on Star Trek, and you talked about including more current events in the sequel. Do you think that Star Trek is evergreen, or is it something that needs to be continuously updated for each generation?

Abrams: It’s hard to give a blanket answer to that question. I do think that, whether it’s Star Trek or anything, whatever is being investigated, created or produced now, in movies or TV, needs to consider the context in which it is being distributed. It’s not a vacuum. There are certain universal themes of love, conflict, loyalty or family that are everlasting and that need to be presented in a way that makes it feel relevant, even if it’s a period piece. You need to consider what context that film, that story and those characters are being seen in. But, having said that, with Star Trek, it’s not like we’re looking to make the second movie some kind of heavy political allegory. I think that it’s important that there is a metaphor to what we know and that there is relevance, and I think allegory is the thing that made shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek resonate and still be vital today.

But, because the first movie was so much about introducing these people, and it was very much a premise movie about how to bring these people together, it made it difficult to also have the film go as deep as it could, about certain conflict, certain relationships and the heart of who some of these characters are. I think it was successful in what it needed to do, to introduce these people, but I feel like, now that we’ve done that, it is the job of the next film to go a little bit deeper. It shouldn’t be any less fun or take itself too seriously, but consider who these people are now and grow with them, and just examine them a little more closer, now that we’ve gotten through the pleasantries and introductions.

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Wil Wheton will be guest staring on the October 19 episode of The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon holds the role of Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation against Wheton. TV Fanatic reports:

“As much as Sheldon loves Star Trek, Wil Wheaton is the only person associated with the franchise whom Sheldon has sworn eternal enmity toward,” the actor said when asked about by TV Guide Magazine about his role.

So, why does Sheldon have such animosity for Wheaton? The character apparently did not enjoy an autograph experience with Wil many years ago.

“The Wil I play in the Big Bang universe is not such a nice person,” Wheaton said. “But in real life, I go out of my way to be kind and patient. My motto is: ‘Don’t be a d—!’”

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The BBC has released the new logo for the upcoming season of Doctor Who, including the use of DW in the shape of a Tardis.

Julie Benz Dexter

Julie Benz, in an interview with CinemaBlend, has revealed that a real shock is planned for the season finale of Dexter:

Your character has really developed into a pivotal part of the show. What can we expect from Rita this season?
Wow, this season. Obviously at the beginning of the season we see Rita has it all. I mean, she has everything she’s ever wanted. She has the perfect husband, the great kids, the new baby, the dream house in the suburbs but you know, just like anything, nothing great lasts forever. We have an amazingly shocking ending this season. I mean, it’s so shocking that – it’s just shocking is all I can say. It shocked the whole cast.

So you’ve already filmed the last episode?
We are in the middle of filming it right now.

Any chance Dexter will let her in on his secret?
Oh! I don’t know about that. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but you know, you definitely see worlds collide; everybody’s world collides in this season.

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So far I haven’t been very excited about the new television season. At present the only new shows I’m watching are Flash Forward, Modern Family, and Glee.  There are some new shows to come including remakes of V and The PrisonerParenthood, based upon the Ron Howard movie, has been delayed due to Maura Tierney developing medical problems. She is to be replaced by Lauren Graham, who will play the part of a single mother. She is well prepared for this role after staring in Gilmore Girls. Any chance they can get Alexis Bledel to quest star on an episode and reunite the pair?

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Ausiello reports that “Olivia Wilde and Peter Jacobson’s trailers have not been emptied out” and predicts that they will reappear on House.

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Kristen Bell has been busy since leaving Veronica Mars and Heroes. Couples Retreat has just been released and she has now been signed to star along with Christina Aguilera in Burlesque:

The story follows a young small-town girl (Aguilera) as she ventures into the city in the hopes of becoming a star. Soon she discovers an L.A. burlesque bar, where the men are fast and the women faster. She quickly uses her amazing voice and burlesque dancing to become the joint’s new star.

Bell plays the club’s big-shot dancer who doesn’t take a liking to the new girl’s sudden success. Also starring are Cher, as the nightclub’s experienced owner, and Stanley Tucci as the man who helps Aguilera find her moves.

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Heroes is still struggling to recover, this week resorting to a lesbian kiss between Hayden Panettiere and Madeline Zima. While this has created some buzz for the show, it is doubtful that it will do anything to help the show get back on track. Zima is better known recently for her role along with David Duchovny in Californication.

CALIFORNICATION

The big television event of the season so far has been the wedding of Pam and Jim on The Office. While hour long episodes of The Office have often not worked very well, feeling like two stories merged together, this episode worked very well. The episode included take offs of a couple of popular You Tube videos. I’ve previously posted the video of the JK Wedding Entrance Dance which inspired the entrance at the wedding ceremony. The episode also showed Dwight wearing a Three Wolf Moon t-shirt:

SciFi Weekend: Flash Forward; Lost; V; Dexter; and More Kristen Bell Bikini Pictures

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In what was generally a very disappointing week of premiers for new shows, there was one excellent pilot. FlashForward was by far the best pilot I saw.  While the concept is taken from Robert Sawyer’s novel, the actual storyline is entirely new. One significant difference from the concept of the novel is that rather than having everyone on earth flash forward to years in the future, the flash forward in this show takes place to April 29, 2010 at 10pm Pacific Time. This leads to a different type of story, presumably dealing far more with the daily lives of the individuals  involved.

Among the characters whose lives might be changed by seeing six months into the future, Sonya Walger plays Olivia, a doctor and a wife who seems far more likable than the bitchy wife she played on HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me. In Walger’s flash forward she sees that she is intimately involved with a man who is not her current husband. At the end of the first episode is is obvious she will meet the man very soon as she is the father of a child she was treating (and who knew her name, presumably from the child’s  own flash forward).

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The presence of Sonya Walger, who also plays Penelope Widmore on Lost, isn’t the only comparison between FlashForward and Lost.  The chaos in the scene after everyone lost consciousness is reminiscent of the chaos after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 in the pilot of Lost.  While the above screen capture isn’t clear enough to see the details, one scene showed a billboard for Oceanic Airlines in the background which noted their safety record. Is this show taking place in an alternative timeline where the bomb at the end of last year’s final episode of Lost was successful in changing history and the crash did not occur? It created a big enough mystery at the end to see the one person awake in the video from a stadium in Detroit when everyone else was blacked out. Was this person from the Dharma Initiative?

A big question for shows of this nature is whether the producers know where it is going. Too many shows, such as The X-Files, started out by creating a mystery but lacking a clear direction the mythology of the show became confusing and the conclusion was not satisfying. It appears that the producers of FlashForward do have ideas as to an explanation for the events, and hope the show lasts at least three years as it would take two years to do the conclusion as they intend. Marc Guggenheim, one of the producers, said in an interview with SFX magazine (via Io9):

We know what the ultimate season is and the penultimate season is. For in between, we know the various seasons but we are treating it like an accordion. In success, [the show] can go seven years. In less success, it would need to go three years to work. The end game of the show, to be properly done, really requires two full seasons focusing on the end game.

The pilot also included a commercial for the other eagerly awaited science fiction show of the year–the remake of V.  A promo for the show appears above. There have been rumors of production problems with the show for a while, and now Variety reports that they are going to divide the series. The show will go on hiatus after the first four episodes, saving the final nine for later, probably resuming in mid-March. There are claims that this is to avoid competition from American Idol and the Olympics but it would seem like a show has a better chance to succeed without such a hiatus.

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Dexter resumes tonight but, as with previous seasons, the first episode of the season has been available on line. I assume they intentionally leak out the first episode every year to create buzz for the show, but I wonder why they don’t simply air the show on demand as opposed to encouraging such down loading. I won’t say anything to spoil tonight’s episode, but it does deal with the complications for Dexter from having a wife and baby. The episodes also ends with a mini-cliff hanger which gets to the question as to whether it is safe for Dexter to pursue his activities.

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Dexter’s adversary for the season is The Trinity Killer, played by John Lithgow. The New York Times interviewed both John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall:

Q. John, what was your reaction when you were approached to portray a madman who kills in multiples of three?

MR. LITHGOW I felt like, “Oh, yeah. I know how to play this.” The fascination — which is the fascination of the whole series — is: How can a person outwardly so ordinary, almost bland, have such a baroque and bizarre secret life? I’m usually hired for my blandness. [He laughs.] I love the idea of shocking people. I thought it was high time I did that again.

Q. Here’s your essay question: Compare and contrast your individual serial killer characters.

MR. HALL Well, they’re obviously both saddled with a compulsion. They’re different seeds from very different trees. For Dexter’s part, I think it’s an awareness that Trinity does what he does, and it makes him compelling the way no one has ever been to him — other than perhaps his brother.

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With Couple’s Retreat coming out on October 9, the internet is being flooded with pictures of Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis in bikinis and lingerie. While not a bad way to end the summer, this is a waste of Kristen Bell’s talent as seen in Veronica Mars.

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SciFi Weekend: The Next Star Trek Movie; Extra Hour For Lost; Harry Potter and Atheism; & Another Kristen Bell Bikini Movie

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With the first Star Trek movie by J.J. Abrams turning into such a hit, there has been a lot of speculation about his next Star Trek movie. In an interview with Colllider, Abrams says he is  open to anything:

Q:  I just interviewed Bob and Alex… they were talking about not having the typical movie villain but maybe having nature or…

Abrams: Oh! I see what you’re saying.  Well, I’m open to anything.  We’ve had some really interesting discussions so far but, you know – you have to be open to everything to find the right thing so the answer is sure, I’m open to that.  I think in a story it’s important to personify, somehow, what you’re up against so it’s a tricky one to figure out how to, like, fight evil wind! (evil look for emphasis).

Star Trek screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have also mentioned the possibilities open to them in recent interviews:

At issue: do they create a fresh plot with never-before-seen characters and scenarios or — because young Kirk and Spock are now part of an alternate timeline where the past has been altered — do they introduce 2.0 versions of such popular villains as the Klingons or Khan? Orci recognizes each approach has its own merits.

Rebooting familiar elements appeals instantly to fans and attracts the attention of “the media-sphere,” as he calls it.

Meaning that if you cast, say, Javier Bardem as the new Khan opposite Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, you’ve automatically excited fans and attracted the attention of the moviegoing public.

“But on the other hand,” he adds, “who doesn’t love an original story?”

That they’re even having this discussion is, they know, is no small feat. But the J. J. Abramsdirected Trek has rejuvenated a franchise once believed dead, grossing more than $245 million so far in North America. (Compared to the $49 million 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis earned.)

“We’d hear that people thought Star Trek was too cold, that women didn’t like it,” Orci says. “But if you look at that period in the 1980s — from Wrath of Khan to the Voyage Home — those movies were very warm; they were about a family.”

Using the Klingons makes sense as they were frequent enemies in past television episodes and movies. There has been a lot of speculation about retelling the stories with Kahn but there is less point in this. Kahn was the villian in one television episode of Star Trek and returned for one of the movies. I would rather see a new story than to retell the original television episode, and the movie with Kahn takes place far later in Kirk’s career.

IO9 discusses the possibility that the next Star Trek movie could include Yeoman Janice Rand:

…co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman tell io9 the next film could feature one of Trek‘s most iconic women.

Yeoman Janice Rand, with her imposing blonde beehive, only appeared in a handful of Trek episodes before disappearing (reportedly because star William Shatner wanted Kirk to have more the opportunity to mack on different women every week.) But since she has a fairly major role in “Charlie X” and “The Enemy Within,” she’s always stood out as one of the most significant female characters on the show, up there with Uhura and Nurse Chapel.

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Lost ended the fourth season with a lot of subplots to tie up. There are rumors that some of the characters who died will be returning. This could be in flashbacks or could be a consequence of the atomic bomb which might have changed history. The Hollywood Reporter says that they will be adding another episode on to the final season.

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The Harry Potter books and movies have already come under frequent attacks from the religious right. Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, has given them another reason in an upcoming interview to appear in Esquire. The Telegraph reports:

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Radcliffe risked the US box office prospects of the new Harry Potter film by declaring himself to be an atheist.

In a pronouncement that will dismay America’s religious Right, which has long voiced suspicions about Potter’s “anti-Christian” message, the 19-year-old actor said he did not believe in God.

He also expressed his admiration for Professor Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist and bete noir of Evangelical Christians.

Radcliffe has been reticent on the subject of religion in the past, but in an interview to promote the latest instalment in the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, released on July 15, he said: “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do. Anything he does on television, I will watch.”

He joked: “There we go, Dan, that’s half of America that’s not going to see the next Harry Potter film on the back of that comment.”

JK Rowling’s stories of the schoolboy wizard are taken very seriously by some Evangelical Christians in the United States. One of the largest Christian groups in the country, Focus on the Family, denounced the books as “witchcraft”.

Conversely, the Church of England published a guide advising youth leaders to use Harry Potter to spread the Christian message, as the characters face “struggles and dilemmas that are familiar to us all”.

Prof Dawkins, author of best-selling book The God Delusion, is no fan of Harry Potter, once remarking that tales of witchcraft are “anti-scientific”.

Harry Potter does show a world in which magic is used in ways which defy the laws of science, but this is presented as fantasy and certainly should not be taken as a claim for the validity of magic.

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I’m not certain about the story in an upcoming movie from Universal but the movie reportedly has a lot of scenes with Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis in bikinis and lingerie. Here is the synopsis:

Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and Faizon Love star in Universal Pictures’ upcoming comedy Couples Retreat. Based on an original idea of Vaughn’s, the comedy follows four Midwestern couples who embark on a journey to a tropical island resort.  While one of the couples is there to work on their marriage, the other three set out to jet ski, spa and enjoy some fun in the sun.  They soon discover that participation in the resort’s couples therapy is not optional.  Suddenly, their group-rate vacation comes at a price.  What follows is a hilarious look at real world problems faced by all couples.

SciFi Weekend: Return to the Island; Party Down with Kristin Bell; Another BSG Remake; Doll Hunting; Dharma and Baby; Sci-Fi Porn

We all knew they would be going back to the island this season, but it was a surprise to see them back at the start of the last episode, 316. In retrospect it does make sense. When we look back at Lost after the series concludes it will be a show about the people on the island, even if there was a brief time away (and they may or may not wind up there in the end). There’s no doubt that the show will continue to have flashbacks to the time the Oceanic Six was off the island due to all the loose ends left. Mysteries include why all of the adults in the Oceanic Six came to the airport as they did, what happened to Ben, and how they got from the plane to the island.

Heroes is somewhat more on track compared to the first half of the season but they still suffer from having to come up with story lines for all those characters they don’t want to get rid of.  I really wonder about Sylar’s new sidekick. If Sylar killed off Kristen Bell (Elle) when he tired of her, what chance does this guy have?

While Kristen Bell has been killed off on Heroes, she still has work. She will be appearing in the season finale of Rob Thomas’ new series, Party Down.

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Life on Mars has possibly begun a story line which could lead to answers as to why Sam is back in the 1970’s. Sam ran into a city councilman who claimed to have come back from 2009 and has found a way home before he was killed. It also looks like Sam’s relationship with Maria is over, presumably leaving him free to get involved with Annie. Sam also has to look into the guy above. He just looks like the guy in a television show who is behind whatever might be going on.

Ron Moore’s remake of Battlestar Galactica is winding down and we have already received the answers to many of the show’s mysteries. Moore’s show is a considerable improvement over the very weak original, but apparently there are still some fans of the original around. Universal is talking with Glen A. Larson, creator of the original, about making a movie version of the original show. Personally I see little point in this. Moore has already re-imagined the show in a way far better than the original. We don’t really need a remake of the weaker version.  Perhaps those who aren’t satisfied with the new version just need to sit down and watch it with a good Battlestar Drink.

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I continue to be hopeful about Dollhouse despite the implausibility of its premise. If the episodes were merely standalone stories in which Echo takes on a new identity I would quickly lose interest, but it is clear that there is a continuing story in progress, and that Echo’s memory wipes between episodes are not complete. This week’s episode, Target, could have been see as a simple retelling of The Most Dangerous game but it also provides more on the back story to the series. Last week I assumed we were seeing Echo’s first jobs after going to the Dollhouse, but it is now clear she had earlier adventures and a previous handler.

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Dharma will be returning, and I’m not referring to that group of ill fated scientists on Lost. Jenna Elfman (above in  Allure) is returning to network television in a show which sounds a lot like a television version of Knocked Up:

Jenna Elfman who starred in the sitcom “Dharma & Greg” has been cast in the lead role of the CBS comedy pilot “Accidentally on Purpose.”

She will play Billie, a San Francisco movie critic who finds herself “accidentally” pregnant after a fling with a younger man, and builds an unconventional family around her “mistake.”

The nude picture of Jenna Elfman above leads into the final item for this week. AMC, yes I said AMC, has presented the following item on sci-fi porn:

SciFi Weekend: A Bionic Companion for The Doctor; Mutiny and Cylons; Veronica Mars Movie; and Death of a Robot

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Michelle Ryan, who briefly stared in the remake of The Bionic Woman, will play The Doctor’s companion in the next Doctor Who special which will air around Easter.

Ryan will play the mysterious Lady Christina de Souza in the special episode, entitled Planet of the Dead.

“I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who and very excited to be joining David Tennant and the Doctor Who team,” she said.

There has also been speculation that Ryan will be brought back to be a regular on the series as Catherine Tate was after first playing Donna Noble in a Christmas special fifteen months earlier.

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This week’s episode  A Disquiet Follows My Soul shows one way they are going to drag out the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica before settling the issues which arose last week. Tom Zarek is starting a mutiny and Gaeta is backing him. Another development was to reveal that Tyrol was not the father of Cally’s baby. Most likely this was done after deciding to make Tyrol one of the final five Cylons as this meant that Cally’s baby appeared to be another half human/half cylon child.

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Tom Zarek is placed by Richard Hatch who also played Captain Apollo in the original series. While Hatch plays a sometimes nutty character on the new show, his costar on the original has some strange ideas in real life. Dirk Benedict, who played Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica series, is a right winger who writes in Big Hollywood how the remake isn’t as good as the original due to its liberal viewpoint. (Hat tip to Cliqueclack.) Like many conservatives he prefers that everything be black or white and doesn’t approve of the greater complexity of the current series. Here is his take:

A show in which the aliens (Cylons) are justified in their desire to destroy human civilization, one would assume. Indeed, let us not say who the good guys are and who the bad are. That is being “judgmental,” taking sides, and that kind of (simplistic) thinking went out with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Kathryn Hepburn and John Wayne and, well, the original “Battlestar Galactica.”

Big Hollywood is a group blog recently established to try to win the culture war for conservatives.

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IO9 has found some information from Life On A Baseship, the “bible” of the Cylons written for the show before season three. We will learn even more about the creation of the Cylons in Caprica. Sci Fi Wire has interviewed Ron Moore about the upcoming series:

For you, is Caprica an opportunity to stay in the Battlestar Galactica universe while at the same time pushing a creative restart button?

Moore: Yeah, well, … I don’t know if it’s reset, but it’s certainly a way of capturing the energy of the first season, of “Well, what is the show? Let’s figure out how we tell stories here. Who are these characters? What’s it about? How are we going to tease the audience? Where are we going to take the show?” So there’s this sense of exploration, there’s this sense of uncharted territory. And that’s exciting, and that’s scary. It’s scary to have to get one of these things off the ground and hope that it’s all going to work out and that people will like it, especially when you know that everyone is going to compare it to Battlestar. But that’s kind of the reason why we’re in the business, is to take on those challenges.

Knowing that you had Caprica on the horizon, did you hold back at all on wrapping up the Cylon mythology in Battlestar Galactica in order to give fans an incentive to tune in to the new show? Or does Battlestar Galactica settle it for everyone?

Moore: Galactica is going to pretty much settle it. Caprica will be about how the people on the colonies developed the Cylons. And that has its own story to tell about how that came about. But in terms of the larger mysteries and mythologies and hows and the whys and how everything lays out on Galactica, we set out to answer as many of the questions that we could by the end of the show, and that’s what we did. We didn’t hold anything in reserve and say, “Oh, well, we’ll deal with this over in Caprica.”

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iF  Magazine is making it sound like a Veronica Mars movie really might be made. Rob Thomas has some additional free time since his current series, Cupid, is being cut from thirteen episodes to eight.

“That means I have time to write the VERONICA MARS movie,” he says. “But my writing the movie is half the battle. Someone else has to pay for it. Joel Silver does have a certain pile of money. He called on me saying ‘Can we do this now?’ Kristen wants to do it. Joel wants to do it and I want to do it. For me, that’s the next project.”

Although he wouldn’t reveal exactly what the story would be, he did tell iF, “it’s 70 percent broken in my head.”

“I’ve been struggling with this one plot point and I’m hopeful to figure that out,” he adds. “I watched the final episode of the series a few weeks ago and there were a lot of gaps and the plotting for the original came to me. I mean for the movie, I’m feeling like I’m on the right track now. But I don’t want to give that away yet.

In terms of cast, Thomas says he’s talked with Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni and Kristen Bell.

“Obviously,” he says with a smile.

And while there were always talks of the character of Veronica Mars ending up at the F.B.I., he says that’s not where the movie will be heading.

“The one thing that I will say is where it will pick up,” says Thomas. “I know we did that F.B.I. ‘what if’ thing, but we would not go to that place. I think it would open just days before the Hearst College Graduation. So Veronica would be sort of at the end of her college career.

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Drew Berrymore is hoping for another Charlie’s Angels movie.

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Bob May, best known for playing the robot on Lost in Space, died last Sunday of congestive heart failure at age 69.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: David Tennant Leaving Doctor Who; Liz Lemon to Date Don Draper; Weak Economy Helps Weak Shows; Lorelei Gilmore Becomes a Doll; and The Planet Vulcan Discovered

After months of speculation, David Tennant has announced he will leave the role of The Doctor after the upcoming series of four Doctor Who specials are completed. BBC News reports:

Tennant stepped into the Tardis in 2005, and will leave the role after four special episodes are broadcast next year.

He made the announcement after winning the outstanding drama performance prize at the National Television Awards.

“When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won’t be with me,” he said.

“Now don’t make me cry,” he added. “I love this part, and I love this show so much that if I don’t take a deep breath and move on now I never will, and you’ll be wheeling me out of the Tardis in my bath chair.”

‘I’ll miss it’

Three years was “about the right time” to play the role, he told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

“I think it’s better to go when there’s a chance that people might miss you, rather than to hang around and outstay your welcome,” he said.

His stint in the show had been “the most extraordinary time, it’s been bewildering, life changing, very exciting”, he said.

“And just so much fun, such a great show to work on.

“That’s one of the reasons I think it’s right to take a deep breath and bow out when it’s still fun, when it’s a novelty.

“I don’t ever want it to feel like a job, so I want to move on when it still feels exciting and fresh and that means I’ll miss it.”

Liz Lemon to date Don Draper? Tina Fey and Jon Hamm will have something in common besides both appearing on Saturday Night Live recently. Jon Hamm of Mad Men might appear in a multi-episode arc of 30 Rock as Liz Lemon’s new love interest.Video of two of Hamm’s skits on SNL were posted here.

With all the subplots on Heroes, a lot has happened, including the return of Kristen Bell as Elle. Perhaps the most interesting development was seeing Sylar’s role get even more complex as his father got him to turn on his mother, but he still decided to save  his brother Peter’s life. His character is certainly different from previous years when he was motivated by little more than killing others with super powers in order to obtain their powers. Ultimately we saw him as a pure family man in a possible future shown earlier in the season.

There might be an unexpected benefit from the bad economy. I’ve often felt that, compared to several years ago, television shows are canceled too quickly if they are not doing well in the ratings, not giving them a chance to build an audience. The Hollywood Reporter believes that the bad economy might be responsible for some shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles being renewed:

Industry observers say the recent cluster of low-rated shows granted full-season orders might have something to do with network executives watching the plunging Dow rather than their shows’ falling Nielsens.

No execs would talk on the record, but the economic crisis, combined with the cost of marketing a new series, the lack of new programming inventory because of the WGA strike and the anticipated difficulty of locking down new advertiser commitments, has networks inclined to play it safe.

“Most years there would be more cancellations than there have been to date,” said John Rash, senior vp/director of media negotiations at Campbell Mithun. “But the dual dynamics of schedule stability keeping ad dollars in place is combining with delayed programming development from last season’s writers strike.”

NBC’s “Knight Rider,” ABC’s “Private Practice” and Fox’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” recently received orders for an additional nine episodes apiece. Such a move typically indicates a network’s confidence in a show’s performance and signals the inclination to keep a series on the air for the duration of the season.

Life on Mars at least has received well deserved improvements in the ratings. Last week Sam came to the assistance of his mother, learning far more about her than he probably wants to know, and also got the opportunity to meet Jim Croce and Joe Namath (Joe the Quarterback?). In upcoming episodes he gets involved in his father as well as someone who was/will become his mentor.

Bradley Whitford of The West Wing and Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip is producing and staring in a sitcom for NBC named Off Duty about a once-legendary police detective (Whitford) on his way down who complicates the life of his new partner, both on duty and off.

Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls will be appearong on Broadway as the female lead in a new revival of Guys and Dolls.

J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5, is working on a script for a remake of the 1956 classic Forbidden Planet.

And finally, the planet Vulcan might have been discovered.