SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Hannibal Serves Antipasto; Community–Six Season And A Movie?; Gilmore Girls Reunion; Nebula Awards Winners

Orphan Black Felix and Krystal

Orphan Black continues at high speed in the second half of the season with Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method being one of the best episodes of the season. There was the return of another clone as  Tatiana Maslany once again played Krystal, the manicurist who fears twins and clowns who was seen in the first episode with Rudy and Seth. This also provided a different situation in which a character got to act as someone else, in this case Felix acting as a straight guy hitting on Krystal.  Krystal turned out to not entirely be the bubbly air head as she was portrayed as, although unaware of being a clone, or having slept with clones, realized something is up and was investigating.

Unfortunately this did not work out very well for poor Krystal as Rachel was up to far more than anyone realized, and managed to play everyone against everyone else to get what she wanted, including Krystal’s body to hide her escape. It will be good to see Rachel back as a powerful antagonist, but I was hoping she might keep the eye patch.

We found out more about the outcome from last week’s grenade dropped by Paul in Mexico. Data was damaged, but Dr. Coady and Rudy survived. Coady revealed that unless they find the cure, the Castor clones will all be dead within one to two years. She understands the underlying structure of the show–when one part of the conspiracy is exposed, there is always another behind it. She asked, “Castor and Leda – I’ve been feeling this for a while. It’s not just two factions is it? Who’s in charge, David?”

Alison’s Weeds story line continues to be mostly independent of the other story lines but they continue to find ways to fit it into the rest of the show. Previously Cosima had to impersonate Alison. This week the connection is that it is their turn to host Helena, who was also reunited with Gracie.

Next week, London now that we found out a bit of the code in The Island of Dr. Moreau:

In Londontown,
We all fell down,
And Castor woke from slumber.
To find the first,
The beast, the curse,
The original has a number.

And the number is H46239, which I’m sure we will learn more about later.

Photo from the episode "Antipasto"

Hannibal began the third season with an Antipasto which was served to partially reset the show. Instead of Baltimore, the episode takes place in Florence, after a stop over in Paris. It is a much slower episode after the bloody season finale from season two. While it was implied that Will Graham and perhaps others survived, most of the major characters from the first two seasons were not seen. The exception was flashbacks to the final days of Dr. Abel Gideon, which was primarily to provide insight into Hannibal’s mind.

Hannibal is traveling with Dr. Bedelia Du Mauirer (Gillian Anderson), who was acting as his wife as she was getting dragged (or in one bathtub scene, submerged) into Hannibal’s world. Hannibal asked if she was an observer or participant, and it looks like she is heading to be far more of a participant than she ever intended. That does not stop her from observing and analyzing Hannibal, describing him in a way which was accurate from the start: “You no longer have ethical concerns, Hannibal. Only aesthetical ones.”

Of course Hannibal did invite someone over for dinner, and it was obvious as to what that ultimately means.

Community Finale Empty Table

Community concluded its sixth season with one of its more meta episodes, pondering what a seventh season might be, and ending with the hashtag #AndaMovie. The episode could very easily work as a season finale or as a lead in to whatever Dan Harmon decides to do next. It sounds like he is taking a break, but that Yahoo! would be quite happy to put on another season if he writes it. Getting the cast together for another season might be difficult due to other obligations, suggesting that six seasons and a movie might be the most likely outcome after all, but a seventh season remains a possibility.

Dan Harmon has responded to the question saying,  “I told Yahoo, ‘I can’t think about writing a movie until I miss Community,” Harmon said. “They wanted to turn around a do a movie immediately, and Yahoo can get it done. They’re like the NSA.” Joel McHale will have a guest role on the X-Files revival, and when on Conan seemed more interested in a movie. Making matters more difficult for a seventh season, Gillian Jacobs and Ken Jeong have roles in other series. Both Annie and Abed were leaving at the end, but it was left open whether they might later return. Personally I’d watch a show centered around Jeff and Annie, along Abed, the Dean, and  any other characters who are still available.

Community Jeff and Annie

Dan Harmon discussed the finale:

That was a rather emotional finale, and true to Community form, very meta. What were you hoping to accomplish with the season ender?

It was a meta explosion. I never know what it is I want to say, I just know of areas I want to explore. Community was the show that commented on itself the whole time, and for the last episode of Season 6 the goal isn’t to lure new viewers, so might as well really lean into this thing and talk about what’s on everybody’s mind, since the conversation about Community has always been more intense than the conversation about the characters. So we had the characters talk about the future of the show as if it were a show. Other than that, it had a pretty traditional structure: It was an excuse to explore possibilities, only to realize there’s absolutely no way we can control anything. Also if we want these characters to continue to grow, they’re missing a huge part of their life right now. Annie is an exceptional person. I want Annie to taste the world.

Jeff Winger had the most idealistic dream of everyone staying at Greendale as faculty colleagues. That actually would be a device you could use for another season–but that would mean that none of these characters get to really grow or ever leave.

I do agree with Winger that that show makes more sense than the one I originally pitched, because then they all have a reason to be together. They would have a reason to have meetings, and then it would be Boston Public set at Greendale.

Annie and Abed leave the group at the end of the episode to pursue their dreams. Why them?

I think Britta’s future can still be found at Greendale and I don’t think there’s anything sad about that. She lived in New York. She was the wild horse that galloped around and then came slinking back to community college. So she has sown her oats and still needs to grow up, just like Jeff does. In the original idea, there were three characters – Abed, Annie and Troy – who represented the younger stories you might encounter at a community college. Those are stories about transitions. Other stories can be about falls from grace. They were wayward youth. On the off chance that it’s the last image of the show that we ever see, I felt more comfortable with the image of Abed and Annie going off to an airport, where they might go anywhere or do anything. It made me feel better about the eternity of the show.

Let’s talk about the Annie and Winger relationship and that kiss. There’s still a big age gap between the two, but on an emotional scale they’re on the same level.

Yeah, with each passing year it gets a little less creepy. I did just marry a 29 year old at 42. And in real life, Allison Brie is 43. No. I just wanted her to read that and freak out. I have no idea how old Allison is. Age aside, it’s more an issue of how much life experience you have had. Do we really believe in our heart of hearts that the current version of Jeff Winger and the current version of Annie Edison would be happily ever after if they ever got together? Or is it more likely their souls are intermingled and there is such a thing as true love that is genuinely star crossed? This person hasn’t lived their life yet. I’m comfortable with the realization that he’s genuinely in love with her, but that’s a separate thing from whether that’s actually good for her.

This episode has the feel of a series finale, but you had to leave the door open in the event of a seventh season or a movie. Are you leaning toward the movie option?

We’ve exploded into these successful shrapnel. Dr. Ken is now Dr. Ken. Allison has probably got her eye on movies. Gillian is working on a Netflix show. If there was some magical way of guaranteeing that everyone could come back all at once, let’s do it. But it would be a lot easier to put together a movie project and get them all on board than to say, “Let’s give it one more season!”

You made a point of not changing Community‘s language or content this season, even though you were no longer confined by broadcast standards. But you ended up with two “fucks” in the finale!

I did! It was kind of unintentional. That one that Jim [Rash, as Dean Pelton] does is adlibbed. As soon as he said it, the entire cast started laughing, but I edited around it. As for Britta’s I should have bleeped it… it’s weird to have two “fucks” on that one.

The show, especially the Chang and Dean Pelton characters, was more grounded this season.

I think it was more emotionally grounded, but structurally, ironically everything was a lot looser. I think I’ve become a victim of my own story structure. The lack of a clock at Yahoo, a really strict one, allowed for something I think the show needed in order for it to continue to feel healthy. A certain randomness. The stories don’t resolve the way you always think they might. There are these strange slingshots around the sun. The wedding episode ends randomly with Chang being the hero. I was a little more British this year.

If I buy a Honda CR-V [which played a major role in Season 6, particularly in the episode “Advanced Safety Features”] and drop your name, do you get a cut?

I’m still waiting for my jacket. I told them I wanted the Honda jacket that Jim wears in the episode.

The last episode ends with a faux Community board game advertisement, which ends up diving into your own stream of consciousness. You even did the voice over. Is that a snapshot of how you were feeling as the season ended?

Well, I certainly did that voice over just two days ago. Everybody had to talk me into doing it. I kept saying, “It’s not funny if it’s me.” Then I tried it. That is my throat catching in a genuine way. But I don’t know, I want to wait and see. I’ve never had a relationship this long. I’ve never done anything for six years, except drink.

Gilmore-Girls-Reunion-Panel-15

The cast of Gilmore Girls, along with the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino got together at the ATX TV Festival. Unfortunately there is still no plans for the long-rumored movie reunion, but hope was kept alive. At least the cast still gets along and nobody really objects to working on it. Amy Sherman-Palladino also said she will not reveal the final four words with which she had planned to end the series until she is on her death bed. This remains a mystery as she left the show for the final season, so her planned finale was never aired. The cast did discuss where they think their character would be today.

John Noble has been cast as Sherlock’s estranged father on season four of Elementary.

The Nebula Awards winners were announced. The award for best novel went to Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer. The full list of winners is here.

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SciFi Weekend: Parenthood Finale; The Marvel Cinematic Universe; The 100; Arrow; Allegiance; The Americans

Parenthood Finale Table

Parenthood concluded with one of the best television finales of all time. This was an easier show to conclude than some others. It did not have the problem of shows such as The X-Files and Lost, which became so burdened by its mythology that it was impossible for the finale to be satisfying without giving up hope that it would really make sense. The Parenthood finale remained true to the stories to date, not tempted to throw in a surprise which did not fit the series, like with How I Met Your Mother or Dexter.

The final episode concluded the major story lines of the season. Most were handled well, but the solution to Adam search for the job of his dreams was the most contrived, with Kristina suddenly having an opportunity at a non-profit which left the position of headmaster at Chamber’s Academy open for Adam. It made sense for Crosby to run The Luncheonette without Adam. Accountants and attorneys could provide some of the business advice he received when Adam was there full time, even if it didn’t make any sense when Crosby said he would be Adam and Amber would be Crosby. It was rather sudden for Julia and Joel to be offered the chance to adopt Victor’s sister, but such an offer coming suddenly did not seem as unnatural as Kristina’s sudden job opportunity.

There were two other story lines which were more important during the season, and which dominated the finale. Sarah’s wedding turned out to be a perfect way to end the series. Besides being a major event for Sarah, the wedding provided a way to get all the characters together as budget limitations required the absence of characters for parts of the season. Besides being the obvious ending for Sarah’s storyline, it provided a good end point for Max, who got the job as wedding photographer and was also “in the picture.” He even got to dance with a girl. Plus the scenes of Max taking the family pictures was a good way to just get a look at the cast members.

The other major storyline of the season was Zeek’s heart problems which, no matter how much fans tried to deny it, was inevitably going to lead to his death. Any lingering doubt that this would occur were eliminated when I read that it would jump ahead to show the Bravermans in the future. It would have been dishonest to not have Zeek die at some point. His death was handled well as he died peacefully at home a few months after he walked Sarah down the aisle, as can be seen in the video above.

Instead of a sad funeral we jumped ahead to see Zeek’s ashes spread at a baseball diamond, and then the Bravermans did what Zeke would have wanted them to do–play baseball, with the series theme song, Bob Dylan’s Forever Young playing. Then, in one of the greatest endings in television history, we had a combination of how Jason Katims ended his previous show, Friday Night Lights with the ending of Peter Krause’s previous show, Six Feet Under.

The show jumped ahead, also in the video above to show the broad outlines of what happens to the Bravermans. There was no ambiguity as in The Sopranos. Adam does become headmaster, eventually handing Max his high school diploma. Crosby does run The Luncheonette. Besides adopting a third child, Julia winds up becoming pregnant with a fourth, and even gets a puppy. Julia and  Joel recreat the original structure of the Braverman family with a younger brother and sister and an older brother and sister. Camille makes it to to inn in France which Zeek had wanted to take her to.

Parenthood - Season 6

Amber’s future is the most exciting. After having her child with Ryan, aka Luke Cafferty of Friday Night  Lights (Matt Lauria), Amber winds up marrying Jason Street (Scott Porter). Ryan even gets his act together and is part of their lives. Scenes with their courtship were shot but got cut from the finale, with Scott Porter’s character named Peter:

“There’s a scene where they meet. Peter and his daughter are at what amounts to a Kidtown, like an indoor jungle gym playtime place. Peter has his daughter and Amber has Zeek. Zeek [named after his grandfather] gets lost in the ball pit and Peter goes bravely in to save him and brings him back to Amber.”

They clicked right away. “They have similar kinds of pasts,” Porter explains. “Both were a little bit wild at one point, and both have kids they maybe weren’t expecting but that were perfectly timed for them. They’re single parents who met and were immediately drawn together.”

While no wedding was actually shot, Porter had no problem imagining the nuptials.

“I imagine it was a very small, intimate wedding. These are two people who are very protective of their families. So pretty small, except for the Braverman side — they come in numbers that most families don’t come in anymore.”

This and other deleted scenes are bound to show up on the DVD set, and some deleted scenes can be found online here.

Matt Lauria and Scott Porter were just two of many former stars of Friday Night Lights who appeared on Parenthood over the years. Yahoo has a slide show, starting with Minka Kelly who both tutored Max and slept with Crosby.

Parenthood - Season 6

This very well might be the end for quality dramas such as Friday Night Lights and Parenthood on network television as I discussed last week. Fortunately cable and streaming networks are doing more quality shows. This topic came up in an interview with Jason Katims at Variety:

It’s unique as a family drama on TV right now. Can you imagine trying to sell it today?

It would be a hard sell to go out and sell a family drama that doesn’t have some sort of twist. There are lot of shows about family, but they’re all couched in other things. This is a straight family drama. It’s unusual in that way. But honestly it was not easy to sell it five years ago. It’s not like anyone was saying let’s have it then. But the TV landscape is changing so rapidly. There’s so much opportunity now, so many different types of outlets — you never know. I’m hoping that there’ll still be a place for shows like this.

The finale provided a broad outline, but also leaves things open to return to their story in the future, either during the period seen or afterwards. Katims is interested, and the new outlets make this more likely in the future.

Given the wealth of platforms on the TV landscape, could you imagine ever revisiting the Bravermans down the road?

Yes, absolutely. Everyone who is doing the show — our writers, our actors, our directors, our producers — we all love doing the show. Everyone would want to do more. There is no one who is angling to get out of doing this thing. I personally would be interested in seeing what happens a few years down the road. I want to know what happens to these people, these characters. If you asked me three years ago, I would say it’s not going to happen. But now there are so many ways of doing things that it’s possible. I would very much be open to that.

Parenthood - Season 6

He also discussed this with E! saying, “I love the idea of doing a reunion movie like Boyhood, where every year, everybody commits a week to doing this project.,” he said. “Maybe it’s not that crazy to think that we could pull something like that off.”

Of course the old episodes are all easily available, both on Netflix and Amazon. I rewatched the pilot later on Thursday night, and this provided a real feeling of going full circle in an episode which introduced the characters. The pilot both had major life events for members of Team Braverman and featured the family at baseball games.

The Bravermans are a fantasy family. It is a family nobody actually has, and it is hard to imagine how Adam and Kristina could have afforded to live in Berkeley, hire private tutors for Max, and afford to send Haddie to Cornell. This universe is still more grounded in reality than the Marvel cinematic universe, with both types of fantasy enjoyable to watch. Digital Spy has some spoilers regarding Avengers: Age of Ultron (trailer above) with more in the full post.

We won’t see the Avengers assemble again (which hopefully also means we’ll be spared a silly alternative UK title). “This movie starts off and the team is together, on a mission, they’re working in tandem, and there are new relationships between them,” explains producer Jeremy Latcham. “Time has passed, so you pick up right in the middle of an action sequence and start trying to catch up.

“I think that’s fun for an audience, to try and figure out, ‘Wait, those two are funny together now, there’s something going on with them, maybe there’s a little tension over there’. You’re showing up at a party when it’s already a little bit started.”

“Bigger” and “darker” are two of the most clichéd terms you can apply to a franchise sequel, but Age of Ultron looks set to earn both – according to Ruffalo, it “makes the first Avengers look like Waiting for Guffman“.

Latcham expands on this by reminding us that much of The Avengers was shot on a small soundstage in Albuquerque, and that its New York City was created “in an old abandoned train station where we’d hung green screen and built part of a bridge.”

Not only are the locations real this time – they’re also global. “The Avengers saved New York, but the Avengers aren’t just about America,” Latcham says. “They’re here to protect this blue rock that we all live on.”

Hence Age of Ultron‘s globe-trotting remit, which sees various strands of the gang show up in South Africa, Northern Italy (playing as Eastern Europe) and South Korea among other places. In preparation for one particularly spectacular set piece, producers asked the South Korean government for permission to shut down Seoul’s equivalent of the M1 for two weeks. They complied.

avengers-age-of-ultron-quicksilver-scarlett-witch

The movie adds Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to the Avengers, but they start out on Ultron’s side.

New recruits Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) initially join forces with James Spader’s Ultron against the Avengers, creating a very different balance of power than solo villain Loki. “Instead of Ultron giving a lot of speeches so everybody knows what he’s thinking, it’d be nice if he had some allies,” Latcham explains.

“The story that Joss put together with these two kids is really sweet and poignant, and you really understand why they would start on this side of the line. It’s a great journey that they go on, from being these rough and tumble kids in Eastern Europe who blame the West, and the Avengers for the plight, the power structure of the world that keeps kids like them down. Over the course of it they realize maybe the Avengers are here for good reason.”

But the brother-sister duo have legitimate beef with one Avenger in particular. “Our characters have a lot of anger, especially towards Tony Stark, and we want revenge,” says Olsen. “We meet Ultron, and he’s someone who preaches peace and… believes what we believe, which is that the Avengers create destruction and that Tony Stark’s bomb is responsible for killing our parents.”

Unsurprisingly, their alliance with Ultron ends up turning sour, and Olsen reveals that “my character ends up really having to deal with her ignorance. A lot of problems that happen towards the end of the film are her responsibility.”

Age of Ultron also leads into the next Captain America movie and the situation leading to the upcoming civil war is explained:

Much of the Avengers’ problem boils down to their lack of a clear leader post-Winter Soldier. “SHIELD has fallen apart, so this movie becomes Tony Stark and Steve Rogers trying to put the Avengers together without a parental unit like Nick Fury hovering over them,” explains Latcham. “What you realize is that these are guys who work best with rules, and probably do need some adult supervision.”And as anybody who watched the first film can guess, Tony and Cap aren’t an ideal leadership pairing. “Tony has been paying for everything, designing stuff, building new toys, he’s the benefactor of the whole thing. But Steve Rogers is very much in charge of operations and missions, he’s the moral compass,” Latcham goes on. “But how long can Tony Stark have someone else be in charge?” In other words, groundwork is being distinctly laid for the Stark vs Rogers core of Civil War.

Avengers Age of Ultron Spoilers

Joss Whedon has helped create a fantastic universe with the Marvel characters but has been talking about moving on, and creating a new universe:

“I would never rule anything out, because I like working here. By the same token, the biggest thing for me is that I need to do something that I create myself. It’s been way too long since I created a universe. The last thing I did before The Avengers was [directing an episode of] Glee, and in between I did Much Ado About Nothing. So I haven’t created my own universe for over five years. That feels wrong.”

The Marvel universe is not limited to the Avengers and other movie series from Marvel Studios as other studios have the rights to some of the Marvel characters. Fox has the rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and there is talk that their worlds will ultimately intersect. Information on the upcoming X-Men and Fantastic Four movies here and here respectively.

Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and we learned during the recent leaks of their email that there was talk of Marvel Studios getting partial rights to the character. Blastr argues that it might have actually been a good thing that Marvel Studios did not own the rights to all of the Marvel characters:

It’s easy to forget that back in the mid-2000s, Marvel Studios was one heck of a risky proposition. After partnering with outside studios for years, the company finally decided that, if they wanted good movies based on their comics (and the winner’s share of the box-office bucks that come with them), they’d have to make ’em themselves. There was just one problem: They’d already sold off any franchise with obvious big-screen potential, most notably Spider-Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

So Marvel decided to dig deep. The comic universe has always thrived on variety and a world populated with extremely interesting and damaged heroes, so they decided to apply that model to film. Iron Man and Hulk were arguably the most bankable heroes left on the bench, so Marvel pumped every dime it had into those two projects and prayed for a hit. Luckily for all of us, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau caught lighting in a bottle with Iron Man in 2008. More than $585 million later, we were well on our way toward The Avengers.

Since Marvel didn’t have the luxury of a sure-fire star like Spider-Man — who is currently the most lucrative comic-book character in existence, with more than $1.3 billion in licensing revenue in 2013 alone — they had to work with characters who might not have ever gotten a shot otherwise. Just think: If Marvel could have made splashy Spider-Man and X-Men movies, do you think we’d have ever gotten something as creatively quirky as Guardians of the Galaxy (or Ant-Man), or the risky period-set romp that was Captain America: The First Avenger? Maybe somewhere down the line, but a lot of the limited focus (and release slots) would almost certainly be eaten up by those larger properties. 

Yes, Marvel would probably be making better movies than what’s out there now (especially on the Spider-Man front), but for me, I wouldn’t trade the epic Marvel Universe we have now for the chance at some better Spider-Man movies. Not by a long shot. The fact that Marvel didn’t have Spider-Man in its stable was the catalyst to bring characters like Iron Man and Thor to life, and gave Marvel the confidence to try something as seemingly insane as a film starring Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The only thing they could control was making the best movies possible, and since the characters were mid-tier, they had to be extremely good.

He has a good point that the way Marvel built the Avengers with characters starting with lesser characters like Iron Man worked out well. However, now that this has been established, Marvel Studios (as part of Disney) is probably big enough to hire the crew to put out an even larger number of movies. Plus it would be worth sacrificing some of the planned movies with minor characters if it meant having Spider-Man movies of the quality of other movies from Marvel Studios.

100-1

Briefly looking at other shows on last week, I was glad to see that the cast and crew of The 100 agree that the plan for Bellamy to infiltrate Mt. Weather “sucked.” I can accept writing a script with characters doing foolish things, as people do foolish things, as long as the writers are doing this intentionally. More on upcoming plans for The 100 in the linked interview.

arrow-katie-cassidy-black-canary

I am also glad that it was intentional that Team Arrow was so weak without Oliver. It would be especially unrealistic if Laurel was suddenly an effective crime fighter like her sister, who had years of training. Marc Guggenheim discussed Arrow and The Flash in an interview with Assignment X. Guggenheim also tied Arrow into contemporary politics:

AX: How much do you weigh referencing ARROW as a modern-day Robin Hood?

GUGGENHEIM: There’s an interesting thing that’s happening in the country right now, where you’re talking about one percent versus ninety-nine percent, haves versus have-nots. Poverty and whatnot has become a political issue, which is interesting, because to me, it was always an issue on both sides of the aisle, how we distribute wealth in this country. It’s a little scary to me that it’s become this polarizing political thing. That’s not the country I grew up in, so it’s weird also to be writing on a show that’s clearly dealing with that issue head-on. Obviously, GREEN ARROW is inspired by Robin Hood and we’re playing around with those elements, but you go it’s more about social justice than it is about politics. At least, that’s what the show should be about.

AX: Aren’t social justice and politics sort of the same thing?

GUGGENHEIM: Well, the point I’m making actually is that social justice has become a political issue in a way that it never has been in this country. Obviously, yes, there’s always been a political divide, we’ve always had disagreements in terms of how to address these issues, but it just feels like the disagreements have become so vitriolic and the differences have become so severe that it’s taken on a different cast than it used to have.

NBC plans to air Allegiance on Thursday nights in place of Parenthood. It sure sounds like a rip off of The Americans, even if its producers deny it. I’m sure there will be differences, like on The Americans the Russians are after the daughter, but on Allegiance they want to turn the son into a spy. It seems better to place such a scenario with undercover Russian spies in the 1980’s, like The Americans, as opposed to present day.

The Americans started its season with another excellent episode, and is ranked by may critics as the top show currently on television. I doubt that Allegiance will be anywhere as good, either as a spy show or as a family drama. If you haven’t seen it, call in sick for the next two days and binge on the first two seasons on Amazon Prime to catch up.

And, finally, a nine year-old in Texas was suspended from school for threatening to make a classmate disappear. He had just watched The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies and claimed to have the one ring to rule them all.

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SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD; The 100; Supergirl; Person of Interest; The End of Parenthood and Parks and Recreation & The Decline of NBC; 12 Monkeys; Netflix Marvel Series; The Americans; Sleepy Hollow; The End of The Marvel Universe; The Humor Of Sarah Palin; Mellisa Raunch Sex Scene

Agents of Shield Coulson Skye

Agents of SHIELD has come a long way from the first season. While they always hinted there was something special about Skye, they didn’t have the payoff on this plotline until the midseason finale with her conversion to an Inhuman. This might have major ramifications for her relationship with Coulson:

Executive producer Jeph Loeb says that the current Inhumans plotline has always been the plan for “Agents of SHIELD.” Like they always knew that Grant Ward was going to be HYDRA in Season 1, the seeds of Skye being something other were planned in the pilot.

“Once we started down that road hopefully you were coming along for the adventure, and now that you’ve come along for the adventure one of the things that’s so amazing about what’s happening on that show is so now we know she has gone through a transformation,” he says. “How is everyone going to react to that? And in the same kind of way you’re asking as an audience member, one of the things that I think is really valuable and one of the things that I think Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen] and Jeff Bell and the writing staff really do have a great feeling for is they are audience members. The writers room sits around and tries to come up with, ‘What is it that you think we’re going to do and how can we then turn that on its ear in a way that makes it feel like it’s fun and valuable?'”

Blood says “SHIELD” has often gone in a different ways from what he expected. He says the latest script he read “just turned another corner,” and that audiences will “be surprised of a lot of stuff that’s coming up.” Because the SHIELD team doesn’t know about the term “Inhumans” like audiences do, Blood says “it’s going to be something that is unraveled.” He has yet to find out where the storyline is going.

The obvious turn would be that Coulson helps Skye — someone Gregg says is the “the person he cares about most” — through her transformation into an Inhuman. But what if he views her as a threat instead of an ally because of her new powers?

“His no. 1 job is to be responsible for SHIELD, which he views as being responsible for the safety of billions of people from things they don’t know about. That’s what SHIELD is. No matter how much he loves Skye — and it’s as much as you can love somebody — it’s the closest thing to a daughter he has. That’s a sacred trust,” Gregg says. “I hope he doesn’t get put in that situation [where she is a threat] because it would mess him up.”

He teases there will be trouble within SHIELD in the aftermath of Trip’s death and Skye’s transformation. “I don’t think the whole team is going to be unified behind what just went on, and it’s hard to blame them. He’s got a couple of people that he’s come to really trust,” Gregg says. “One of my favorite things about this season is that everybody comes up to me on the street really worried about Fitz and these new characters we introduced this year. Coulson also has these new people … he doesn’t have the same type of history with those people. It’s going to be hard to hold the baby brand new, on the run SHIELD together in the wake of what just happened.”

There’s also the question of Bobbi’s secret, which Blood says is as big a mystery in the second half of Season 2 as who the man with no eyes is. “I honestly think people are going to freak when they see some of the stuff we’ve been filming recently,” he says.

The 100
The 100 returned last week and the events of the fall finale continued to have a major impact on the characters. While I originally did not watch this show, thinking it was another CW show putting attractive young people in a sci-fi scenario which has been done before, I found that this was far better done than I anticipated.

Yes, it does have its attractive young cast members, led by Eliza Taylor as Clarke Griffin, who does an excellent job in the role. (Having binged on the first one and one-half seasons over a weekend, I did notice that Eliza Taylor does show less cleavage in the second season, which must have been a conscious decision by the producers considering that the characters couldn’t just run out to clothing stores in this post-apocalyptic world to change their wardrobe). There are also the CW love triangles, but they do not distract from the stories. Both the characterization and plot lines have been strong, even when going where other shows have gone before. Bustle and The Mary Sue both have posts on why you should watch the show.

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CBS has chosen Melissa Benoist to play the lead role on Supergirl. Previous reports on the show have described it as more of a CBS procedural with Supergirl as a feminist investigating crimes, but with cross overs possible with the CW shows Arrow and The Flash.

CBS is showing success with another mixture between procedural and genre with Person of Interest. The show started out as a procedural show with a science fiction gimmick to propel it, and has evolved to what might be seen in the future as “a modern sci-fi epic that is considered a must-see show along the lines of Firefly or Battlestar Galactica…”

Many blogs and podcasts, along with this thread on Reddit, have looked at the question of how someone could get caught up with the show without watching all the old episodes. The purely procedural episodes of the first two seasons are mostly unnecessary to appreciate the more recent episodes since the show evolved into a more significant science fiction series, but it is hard to say exactly what can be skipped and must be watched as often early episodes would have a few minute segment towards the end to slowly develop the mythology in addition to the number of the week story.

There have been some posts, such as here and here, which might help in listing some of the more essential episodes. It would really be helpful if some of the other mythology segments which are only small parts of other episodes could be accumulated in a video.

Parks and Recreation

Time looked at the politics of Parks and Recreation, which is concluding its run on NBC.

But there’s a big idea in Parks’ small-scale vision. In the frame of today’s politics, it might be a liberal notion, but it’s one that for much of the 20th century was centrist, and even championed by Republicans like park lover Teddy Roosevelt: that we need government to do things the private sector can’t or won’t, like preserving public spaces.

Shockingly, Parks has dared to suggest that while some civil servants might be bumbling–sorry, Jerry!–they can also be well-intentioned and competent. (This too wasn’t considered a liberal notion before the era when Ronald Reagan joked that “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”) Leslie is comically tenacious–Poehler plays her as a cheerfully overprepared super-wonk–but she’s good at what she does and is driven by a fierce love for her hometown as well as its famous waffles…

Leslie can’t do it alone, though: she’s assisted by a network of co-workers and friends (played by a comedy-powerhouse cast, many of whom–like Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza and Aziz Ansari–have deservingly become stars). Even her former supervisor Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) admires Leslie’s commitment, even though he’s so libertarian, he once illustrated the evils of taxation to a fourth grader by eating 40% of her lunch. Parks argues not only that we need our neighbors’ help but that helping makes us better ourselves; it’s in the small-town, populist tradition of Friday Night Lights and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Parenthood Series Finale

When I recently posted my list of top television shows of the year, I noted how little representation the major broadcast networks had on the list. Perhaps the biggest decline is being seen at NBC. They will soon be without two of their highest quality returning shows. Besides trying to run through Parks and Recreation as quickly as possible,  Parenthood concludes this week, apparently with Lorelei Gilmore marrying Ray Romano. If it ends with Zeke dying, I’m imaging angry mobs storming Rockefeller Center. After these are gone they will still have some shows worth watching, most notably Hannibal, which I’m amazed a network is broadcasting, but the lineup of quality shows will sure be thin. Their announcements of upcoming shows is being greeted with far more snark than interest.

In the past NBC would often be the home of some of the highest quality drama shows on television, such as The West WingFriday Night Lights, I’ll Fly Away, and St. Elsewhere. They probably had better ratings success with some, but not all of their sitcoms, which included shows such as Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Community, 30 Rock, and Will and Grace. Going further back, it was also the home of some classic genre shows such as the original Star Trek and The Man From UNCLE. (We won’t talk about some of their more recent attempts at genre such as Revolution, The Cape and Heroes after the first season.)

So, what happened to NBC? I suspect that that it is a victim of otherwise good changes in television. Writers and producers for many high quality shows are now going to cable and streaming networks, where they can develop an audience without the need for netw0rk-level ratings. (In the case of Community, it is moving directly from NBC following cancellation by NBC, with the first two episodes to be streamed by Yahoo! on March 17.) It will be a challenge for NBC to attract this type of quality show in the future, and it is questionable as to whether they even care considering that lower quality shows will probably deliver higher ratings.

Increasingly cable or smaller networks owned by the major networks are offering higher quality shows than the major networks. FX and FXX are offering some of the best shows on basic cable. CBS has Showtime and CW, with The CW Network  turning into one of the strongest networks, especially for genre, as it attracts a totally different audience than CBS. NBC/Universal have even lagged behind other cable networks which have produced better science fiction than its Syfy Network.

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Syfy is finally trying to compete with hard science fiction. 12 Monkeys remains promising after the second episode, which aired Friday and was available for streaming last week. With Leland Goines dead, his daughter Jennifer becomes a major character. Her character in an insane asylum serves as an alternate version of the Brad Pitt character in the movie. As discussed previously, the television show can cover far more ground with changes such as having the ability to change time and with the Army of the 12 Monkeys playing a more significant role.

I saw a posted link here which supposedly allows streaming of the third episode for cable subscribers in the United States but it would not allow viewing through either my Charter or Xfinity account. I’m posting the link in case it works for other cable systems, or if it becomes active later. The first two episodes are available for streaming there.

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Netflix has released a brief synopsis for their upcoming Marvel shows. While previous reports suggested that we might have to wait a year between shows, it looks like the Jessica Jones show (staring Krysten Ritter) will be out sometime later this year.

Daredevil
“Marvel’s Daredevil” is a live action series that follows the journey of attorney Matt Murdock, who in a tragic accident was blinded as a boy but imbued with extraordinary senses. Murdock sets up practice in his old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, New York where he now fights against injustice as a respected lawyer by day and masked vigilante at night. Coming April 10

A.K.A. Jessica Jones
Working as a private investigator in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, a troubled ex-superhero’s past comes back to haunt her in the live-action series, “Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones.” Coming 2015

Iron Fist
“Marvel’s Iron Fist” follows superhero and martial arts master Danny Rand in the upcoming live-action series. Coming soon

Luke Cage
In this Marvel live-action series, a street-fighting ex-con battles crime in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen as the superhero Luke Cage. Coming soon

The Defenders
“Marvel’s The Defenders” brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage in an epic superhero team-up in New York City. Coming soon

The Americans returns this week. Unreality Primetime has a couple spoilers on upcoming episodes. The season three trailer is above.

Can Henry be redeemed? The cast of Sleepy Hollow answer questions such as this in videos available here.

The Marvel universe ends as we know it in the comics this spring.

Who needs Tina Fey to mock Sarah Palin? Her own words are ridiculous enough. Check out the reaction to her latest speech from Twitter.

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Melissa Raunch of The Big Bang Theory has received a lot of attention at Sundance for her raunchy sex scene in The Bronze.

“The Bronze” kicked off the 2015 edition of the Sundance Film Festival on a foul-mouthed note Thursday, sticking a dagger through the concept of hometown heroes and providing one of the raunchiest sex sequences in movie history.

The scene in question, one that involves pole vaults, cartwheels and pirouettes, was a constant source of amusement during a question and answer period immediately following the film’s premiere at the Eccles Theater.

“Right after this there’s going to be an audition for the sex scene in the sequel,” joked director Bryan Buckley.

Melissa Rauch, the star of the film and its cowriter along with husband Winston Rauch, said, “As for the sex scene, you write what you know.”

Her husband added that it gave the couple a chance to “show you what we do in our bedroom.”

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SciFi Weekend: Dexter Finale; Fringe and Firefly; Doctor Who and Star Wars; A Klingon Christmas Carol

The season finale of Dexter was largely predictable, but predicable in a good way. Actions and decisions made were as anticipated as they were set up in previous episodes. We knew it would end with Jordan Chase getting killed. We also knew that Lumen would leave and, while it was always a consideration, I think most fans predicted she would not get killed. Killing Lumen after Rita’s death last year would have been too depressing. There have also been hints in post-season interviews that Lumen might return.

It was also predicable that Deb would wind up at the camp, although she sure did figure out the location quickly. It would have been more plausible if Dexter had left around a paper trail regarding Jordan Chase’s ownership of the camp. The only real question here was whether Deb would arrive to save them from Jordan or, as it turned out, to find Jordan’s dead body. Once the scene was set up with Dexter and Lumen behind the plastic I had no doubt about the ending. It was obvious that this would be the way that Deb could set them free without seeing their faces. The writers had been preparing Deb all season to make the decision for her to sympathize with the unknown (to her) vigilantes. While I wasn’t very fond of the Carlos Fuentes arc earlier in the season, it did lead to Deb believing that there were people who deserved to die and change her view of killing.

Dexter’s decision to save Quinn was also not surprising. He might have let Quinn take the blame for Liddy’s death but even if Dexter saw some benefit in this he would be taking a risk that he would be a suspect once it came out that Quinn had hired Liddy to spy on Dexter. The most important factor might have been Dexter saving Quinn for the sake of his sister. At the moment Quinn is grateful to Dexter, but there is no guarantee he won’t go back to suspecting Dexter sometime in the future, especially should he break up with Deb.

There are still a number of loose ends in the conclusion. Why is Deb given credit for breaking the case when, as far as everyone knows, Jordan Chase is still alive. (I assume she didn’t tell anyone that she saw his dead body when she made the call or there would have been lots of questions when his body wasn’t there). Nobody appears to be questioning why one bullet was shot from her gun. Quinn isn’t necessarily off the hook for Liddy’s death considering all the other evidence implicating him. These include all the phone calls and the faked signature for the surveillance equipment. The hunt for Kyle Butler was also never resolved, and could still create problems for Dexter in the future.

The season ended leaving the writers a free hand as to where to go next season. They could deal with some of these loose ends from the past or move on. The problems between Dexter and Rita’s children were also resolved, with Astor and Cody planning to spend the summer with him. This leaves the writers free to set the next season with the kids living with Dexter or still living with their grandparents.

While Deb did not find out Dexter’s secret this year, they are likely setting this up for a future season. Deb did find out at the end of the first novel, which was very similar to the first season in most respects. This would be a plausible way to shake up the series and maintain continued interest. This is also suggested in an interview with executive producer Sarah Colleton:

A huge moment for Deb: She chooses not to pull back the curtain to discover the identity of Victim 13 and her partner, allowing Lumen and Dexter to go free. Why did you decide to go that way with the story?
Deb has had a really interesting growth over the past five years. If you remember her from year 1, her energy was all over the place and she was coltish and insecure—this delightful unfocused character who slowly over the years has learned to focus all of that energy and she has become a formidable detective. But part of becoming a detective and pursuing the dark side is an awareness that anyone who takes a walk on the wild side never comes back all the way. What may have started out as a rigid sense of what’s right and wrong—what’s good and evil—starts to turn into a bit of gray. And when Deb finally brings down Carlos Fuentes earlier in the season, she’s surprised that she feels nothing—and is intrigued by that sensation. And one of the most subtle conversations between Dexter and his sister takes place over a beer in Dexter’s apartment when she’s going on about how she didn’t feel anything, and Dexter gives her this look and goes, “Dad once told me there are people who deserve to die.” And she looks at him and goes, ‘Do you think there are people that deserve to die?” It’s this moment where Dexter has floated out this little trial balloon. So you see Deb starting to make that turn. And based on her experience with Rudy and in episode 10 when she sees all of those [Barrel Girl] tapes—it’s traumatizing yet strengthening for her—she comes up with the vigilante theory. When she finally gets to the camp and realizes that she has stumbled upon “13” and her helpmate, it’s not until the very end of her speech where she makes that change. And Jennifer Carpenter did a brilliant piece of acting because the character doesn’t know until that very moment that she’s going to do something. It’s a huge, defining moment for Deb. That’s a new Deb who says, “The place is going to be crawling with police in an hour,” and sails up the stairs and goes to Quinn and says, “I don’t care what happened—I love you.” It’s wonderful—and it also opens the door because eventually, some season is going to have to deal with Deb finding out about Dexter.

This would result in a tremendous change in the relationship between Deb and Dexter. In real life there has also been a big change as it was announced last week that Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall are getting divorced. Apparently it doesn’t work to marry your TV sister. Perhaps Michael C. Hall should warn his former co-star from Six Feet Under as Peter Krause is now dating his TV sister from Parenthood, Lauren Graham.

Moving Fringe to Fridays, where Fox genre shows often go to die, has raised a number comparisons to Firefly–especially as the first episode back in January is named Firefly. The above video takes the opening to Firefly and replaces it with the characters from Fringe.

Even Fox has responded to the concerned raised by moving the show to Fridays in the above promo.

As far back as 1989 we had the fan fiction The Doctor and the Enterprise placing The Doctor in the Star Trek universe.  In more recent years video mash ups have become more popular. Above we have a combination of the Doctor Who and Star Wars universes. This gives us eleven Doctors, Amy Pond, Rory, and River Song, including Amy Pond fighting Darth Vader with a lightsaber.

There have been numerous interviews and promotional videos released in preparation for Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol on December 25. This includes an interview with Karen Gillan in ShortList which geeks might find encouraging.  Den of Geek has a spoiler-free review based on an early screening of the Christmas special. Life of Wylie has highlights from a Q&A session with Steven Moffat and the stars.

If you prefer an alternative to Doctor Who for your holiday entertainment, The Wall Street Journal has a review of A Klingon Christmas Carol.

Across the country this week, productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” are warming hearts. In this city, one version poses this question: What if Charles Dickens were a Trekkie?

The answer runs an hour and 20 minutes and includes three fight scenes, 17 actors with latex ridges glued to their foreheads and a performance delivered entirely in Klingon—a language made up for a Star Trek movie.

“It’s like an opera,” says Christopher O. Kidder, the director and co-writer. “You know what’s happening because you already know the story.”

For those not fluent in Klingon, English translations are projected above the stage.

The arc of “A Klingon Christmas Carol” follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view.

For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is pegged to the Klingon Feast of the Long Night. Carols and trees are replaced with drinking, fighting and mating rituals. And because Klingons are more concerned with bravery than kindness, the main character’s quest is for courage.

Carrie-Anne Moss, who stared in the fantastic movie The Matrix, and the dreadful movies The Matrix II and The Matrix III, has been signed to star in a Lifetime pilot as a celebrity psychologist.

Thursdays from 8:00 to 8:30 is the best hour of genre comedy television. Big Bang Theory has had lots of major guest stars. Now Community is getting LeVar Burton, who will play himself.

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Amy-Sherman Palladino Leaves Door Open on Gilmore Girls Movie

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One of the most heavily visited old posts on the blog is about the possibility of Amy Sherman-Palladino returning to do a movie of The Gilmore Girls and possibly reveal the four final words she intended for the series. Sherman-Palladino had stated long before the end of the show that she already had the final four words in mind but wound up leaving for the final season, leaving the show to go a different route.

For those who have been wondering what the final word were, they were: “Rory, you were adopted.” No, just kidding. Ausiello continues to try to get the final words out of her:

My ongoing mission to get Amy Sherman-Palladino to cough up those elusive final four Gilmore Girl words is finally starting to bear some juicy fruit. Not that particular plum, no, but at least for the first time, she’s revealing details about what the series finale would’ve involved, had she stuck with the show. Hey, it’s a freaking start.

“I wanted different things for Rory,” confesses AS-P. “I wanted her to follow a different sort of path… [go] off on her own adventure, which I guess she sort of did. I haven’t [actually] seen the last season, but I heard about it from other people.”

Although Sherman-Palladino declines to detail her intended journey for Rory, suffice it to say it would not have involved her joining Obama on the campaign trail. And while she’s also mum on what she had in store for the rest of the Gilmore gang, she does hint that she “had planned different paths” for them, too. “I don’t want to totally say [what my ideas were], because if there is a movie in the making, I’m going to be basically delving back into where I left off, and then I’m kind of [screwed].”

Yep, you read that correctly. AS-P, who’s currently hard at work on a new dramedy for HBO, is not giving up on the possibility of a Gilmore movie. “Anything can happen,” she insists. “I’m in touch with [Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel]. If there’s a story to tell, then absolutely I think we’re all going to want to tell it. That’s the bottom line.

“If I thought it was definitely not going to happen, I would say, ‘No, it’s definitely not going to happen,’” she adds. “I would do that for you, my friend. But I don’t want to say that. Because I think that the beauty of Gilmore, and the beauty of family relationship shows is, you never really run out of story. You’re going to battle your family until you’re all in the ground. Those things never resolve, doesn’t matter how much therapy you get. Ten years later, there’s still going to be [material] there to mine and to delve into.”

Unfortunately there is not much real news here. All he reveals is that Amy Sherman-Palladino had plans for Rory which, not unexpectedly, were different form what was aired by a different writer. The possibility of a movie remains open but this is hardly an announcement. At least they are not closing the door on this and perhaps it is encouraging that Amy S-P does not want to ruin the chances of a movie delving back to where she left off.

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Amy Sherman-Palladino To Do Show For HBO

gilmore-girls

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amy-Sherman Palladino creator of Gilmore Girls, will be doing a show for HBO. Like her previous show, it will deal with mother-daughter relations:

Sherman-Palladino will write and executive produce the untitled drama, which chronicles the complicated relationship between three adult sisters, all writers sharing the same upper east side apartment building, and their mother, a domineering literary lioness who reserves most of her affections for their ne’er-do-well brother.

“It’s a story of love, hate, family — and finding the perfect opening line,” Sherman-Palladino said.

I’m glad she is concentrating on opening lines. She reportedly had the final four words to Gilmore Girls in mind for years, and then never had the opportunity to use her closing lines as she left the series in its final season.

While her last series, The Return of Jezebel James, was a flop, I’m hoping that cable allows her to match and possibly surpass her work on Gilmore Girls. The show featured rapid fire dialogue similar to that of Aaron Sorkin with frequent pop culture references. While Palladino’s work was not as overtly political as that of Sorkin, she did throw in political comment from time to time. I previously posted some examples here.

I noted a few days ago that Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham will be returning to network television this winter in Parenthood, in which she will once again play a single mother. Alexis Bledel appeared in the final episode of E.R. last season and has had several movie roles.

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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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dirty-sexy-money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SciFi Weekend: 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.

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Amy Sherman-Palladino And The Real Ending To Gilmore Girls

Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t revealing her planned ending, and four final words, for The Gilmore Girls yet. If this is true, it will be worth waiting to find out what those words are. Michael Ausiello reports in Wednesday’s column that she is looking at making a two-hour movie to properly tie up the series. From the column:

OK, here’s the deal: Yes, I tracked her down, but, no, she did not cough up those elusive four words. But wait — there’s more. And it’s good. No, amazing. No, un-frakkin’-believable. Amazing, even. Wait, did I say that already? Well, it’s true. Because just as I was about to brand her a big ol’ promise-breaker right there in front of all those industry types, Amy explained why she couldn’t divulge her long-ago-planned Gilmore ending. (Gilmore fanatics: This is the time in Sprockets when you either lean on a heavy object or just sit down.) In the next year or two, she hopes to make — wait for it — a two-hour Gilmore Girls TV-movie that ties up all those loose threads! I nearly fell over when she said it — especially given what she told me back in December. (BTW, lest you think Amy was pulling my leg, her partner in life and in showbiz, Dan Palladino, confirmed that a GG reunion pic is something they’re interested in pursuing.) And I wasn’t the only one floored by this development. “She said what?” gasped Scott Patterson after I relayed the information to him over the phone. “I didn’t think she would be interested in doing something like that. But if she says she is, I would seriously consider it.” Alexis Bledel was equally stunned. “A Gilmore Girls reunion?” she said with a laugh. “That’s certainly not something I had thought of doing. That’s really funny, I have no idea how I would feel in a few years. I don’t know, I’m sure the script Amy would write would be great, but I guess I’d have to read it and see how I felt at the time.” Last but not least, Lauren Graham e-mailed me late last night to say, “Could be a fun idea if everyone wanted to do it. I would do it just to get the four final words out of Amy. They torture me.”

Update: One possibility for the final four words is posted here.

Update II: The status of a possible movie and Amy Sherman Palladino’s vague comments on taking Rory on a different path (November 2009).

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