SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Orphan Black; Almost Human; Arrow; The Doctor Meets Superman & Batman For Coffee

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Pictures, such as the one above, and an official synopsis have been released for the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor:

Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them – the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.

Could this also involve saving Gallifrey after the events of The Day of the Doctor?

Despite the revelation of John Hurt as the War Doctor, Steven Moffat is sticking with the current numbering:

“He’s just The Doctor, Matt Smith’s Doctor is the 11th Doctor, however there is no such character as the 11th Doctor – he’s just the Doctor – that’s what he calls himself. The numbering doesn’t matter, except for those lists that you and I have been making for many years. So I’ve given you the option of not counting John Hurt numerically – he’s the War Doctor.”

If the numbering was only being done by fans it wouldn’t matter, but the numbering has appeared during the shows. On the one hand there has been talk of “the fall of the eleventh”, while on the other hand there was reference to “all thirteen” Doctors during The Day of the Doctor. The number of Doctors, if not how they are referred to, is important if there is a regeneration limit, and in this context we cannot leave out a regeneration. Moffat is separating the reference of number to Doctors from actual regenerations–sort of like the Big 10 having twelve teams and expanding to fourteen.

I previously had thought that the regeneration from Matt Smith’s Doctor to Peter Capaldi’s would be the twelfth and final regeneration, speculating that the limit might be exceeded by having the next Doctor find Gallifrey and be rewarded with a new set of regenerations. Steven Moffat has made matters even more complicated in an interview with Radio Times:

As Whovians will know, ever since the 1976 episode The Deadly Assassin it has been taken as fact that a Doctor can only regenerate twelve times in a cycle, allowing thirteen incarnations.

Officially until now, Matt Smith has been the 11th Doctor, meaning fans have started to wonder what will happen in 5-10 years time when we reach 13 after Peter Capaldi.

But Moffat has moved the goalposts, or perhaps more aptly stuck his own sonic screwdriver into the history of the show and given it a big twist.

On Saturday he told me Matt is actually the 13th and final doctor. John Hurt is officially now a doctor and David Tennant used up an extra regeneration during his stay.

In essence, the end of Matt at Christmas should mean the end of Doctor Who.

Where this leaves Peter Capaldi is unclear. But what Moffat would say is: “The 12 regenerations limit is a central part of Doctor Who mythology – science fiction is all about rules, you can’t just casually break them.

Everything changes if we consider the events of Journey’s End as showing David Tennant’s Doctor using up a regeneration (and ignoring the regeneration energy given to the Doctor by River Song in Let’s Kill Hitler). While we know that Moffat lies, or at least loves to cause misdirection with regards to speculations on future events on the show, this does force an update to previous predictions. The issue becomes more urgent to prevent Matt Smith from playing the last Doctor, which we know will not occur. Now it appears possible that Matt Smith’s Doctor might find Gallifrey and receive extra regenerations in The Time of the Doctor. Reportedly the episode will also tie up several of the loose ends Moffat has left since taking over regarding predictions of the fall of the eleventh, The Silence, The crack in time, and the Weeping Angels. There are also rumors that the Doctor will lose a limb before being regenerated.

During the above interview, Steven Moffat discussed further minisodes following the success of The Night Of The Doctor (posted here).

“I think this will usher in not so much a Paul McGann mini-series but usher in more minisodes, and I think we should take them more seriously than we used to. Night was the first one we’ve actually said, ‘Let’s make a high production value belter and let’s give them a surprise!’”

He teased: “You can count on us doing something like that again, but we won’t tell you when! I’ve actually told the BBC, ‘if we do it again we’re doing it in Cardiff and we’re not even telling you what we’re doing and we’ll give you it on the day…’

With Doctor Who Confidential no longer on the air, the BBC has released a series of brief videos giving an Inside Look on the 50th anniversary and the making of The Day of The Doctor, such as the video above. More of these videos have been  posted at Geeks of Doom.

We have a long wait after the Christmas episode. Doctor Who begins filming in January but the next season will not be aired until fall. There have been reports that the full season will air in the fall instead of being split but I’m not sure how official this is.

A new source for Doctor Who news–The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Sherlock Lives

Sherlock resumes on January 19 in the United States but many of us will be downloading copies earlier now that it has been announced that season 3 will begin on January 1. The BBC spread news of  the date for the first episode, The Empty Hearse, by having the above hearse drive around London.  The Sign of Three airs on January 5 and the finale, His Last Vow is on January 12. For those in other countries, Sherlockology has a lengthy list of broadcast dates. It also appears that there will be sort of a triangle.Martin Freeman’s real-life wife Amanda Abbington will also star as John Watson’s love interest Mary Morstan.

The Weinsteins are looking into several television projects, including some genre shows. This includes a television version of Sin City and an adaptation of the movie version of Steven King’s The Mist. Hopefully this works out better than Under the Dome (and there is no reason to believe that different people will make the same mistakes with a different story).

Orphan Black‘s second season will begin on April 19 in the United States on BBC America and in Canada on Space. I have not heard of a date being set in the UK but last year the show aired well after it aired in the United States. The season 2 trailer is above, which unfortunately contains no new footage even though the series has been filming for a while.

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I watched the first three episodes of Almost Human over the holiday weekend. It does have promise. The premise appears to be that male cops are teamed with androids while hot female cops (as played by Minka Kelly) wear loose, low-cut shirts (which looks better on the show than in the picture above).

Ronald D. Moore’s new show Helix will begin on January 10. More premiere dates from SyFy here.

Barry Allen (The Flash) will appear on the next episode of Arrow. Initially the appearances on Arrow were to be a back-door pilot for a new show, but now CW has decided to film a conventional pilot for The Flash. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the DC universe being created around Arrow will tie into the Justice League movie which will be developed out of the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. Arrow showrunner Greg Berlanti says the two universes will not be connected as Agents of SHIELD is connected to the Marvel cinematic universe.

Oliver will also be getting a mask like the one worn by the Green Arrow in the comics. I’m not sure that it is needed. If Laurel hasn’t figured out that Oliver is the vigilante yet, wearing the hood has been unrealistically sufficient.  (It was a more realistic change from the old comics to have Lois Lane quickly figure out who Clark Kent was in Man of Steel.)

Nothing has spoiled True Blood more than bad writing, too many characters who nobody cares about, and weak plot lines. Compared to these problems, the season seven spoilers posted here are rather trivial.

And, finally, the Doctor is sort of like a superhero, so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t go out for coffee with Superman and Batman (unless he’s afraid of their tough questions).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some quicker questions for Moffat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New trailer for Agents of SHIELD above.

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

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

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

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

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

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; S.H.I.E.L.D.; Inspector Spacetime; Community; House of Cards and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner; The Americans

Time Wars

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS was being hyped as the first blockbuster episode of the spring season of DoctorWho but failed to deliver. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but my exceptions were just too high for what turned out to be a bottle episode. One problem was that there were just too many plot contrivances. To start with the TARDIS was placed in basic mode so that it could be captured. Then how do we explain how the Doctor winds up outside and Clara is lost in the corridors? I might forgive these as necessary to set up the story, but similar problems plagued the entire episode.

The Doctor said not to touch anyone or else time will reassert itself. I have no idea what that means, and feel they are going too far in making up rules for time as they go along. I can forgive contradictions as to whether the Doctor can change events or meet up with his former selves on rare occasions in order to provide for a good story. I didn’t buy Moffat’s explanation as to why the Doctor couldn’t travel back in time to somewhere other than New York and meet up with Amy and Rory, but I’ll let that pass as we know the real point was a farewell episode for the two. Throwing out a new concept of time asserting itself based upon who is touched seemed like pointless and arbitrary timey whimey stuff.  I might have accepted a cosmic reset button to resolve the episode  if the explanation and story were executed better but entire existence of the  Big Friendly Button was rather weak. There were so many other questions, such as why did future burnt Clara attack everyone, and how did getting burnt make little Clara strong enough to take on larger men?

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The highlight of the episode was Clara running through the TARDIS. The scene of the TARDIS swimming pool would have been more exciting if we didn’t already know it was coming. This created expectations of more than a quick glimpse. I did like the TARDIS library but The History Of The Time War with The Doctor’s real name sitting out makes it implausible that none of the previous companions other that River Song knew this. This did serve to foreshadow the mystery of the season finale, The Name of the Doctor: “You call yourself ‘Doctor? Why do you do that? You have a name. I’ve seen it.”

I also wonder who would have the knowledge to write this book.  Besides reading this secret, Clara also heard the story of her two other deaths. The memory should be gone after the cosmic reset, but we also saw that from the Van Baalen brothers that not all memories were extinguished. I won’t even get into the nonsense of convincing one of the brothers that he is an android.

As has been common in episodes leading up to the 50th Anniversary, there were references to previous episodes. This included past sounds echoing through the TARDIS. Clara also found the Doctor’s cot from A Good Man Goes To War and the model TARDIS Amy and Mel were playing with in Let’s Kill Hitler. There were other things we have seen before, including a crack in time and (almost) an exploding TARDIS.

Quote of the Episode: “Don’t get into a spaceship with a madman: didn’t anyone teach you that?”

Above is the Behind The Scenes video

Next week, Strax, Vastra and Jenny return in The Crimson Horror. Dianna Rigg, whose roles range from The Avengers ( 1960′s BBC series) to Game of Thrones, guest stars. Here is an interview with her. A spoiler-free review is posted here.

The BBC has released the official synopsis for Neil Gaiman’s upcoming episode, Nightmare in Silver:

Hedgewick’s World of Wonders was once the greatest theme park in the galaxy, but it’s now the dilapidated home to a shabby showman, a chess-playing dwarf and a dysfunctional army platoon. When the Doctor, Clara, Artie and Angie arrive, the last thing they expect is the re-emergence of one of the Doctor’s oldest foes. The Cybermen are back!

Gaiman also did a far better job of revealing TARDIS secrets back in The Doctor’s Wife.

Clark Gregg has revealed how Agent Coulson will be brought back in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“In the pilot, it’s revealed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the ultimate super spy, faked Agent Coulson’s death on purpose to motivate The Avengers. Some S.H.I.E.L.D. members were in on it (including, possibly, Maria Hill played by Cobie Smulders) but The Avengers were not. Their security clearance wasn’t high enough. Coulson was forced to hold his breath as part of the ruse and that’s a point of contention among his colleagues After the fact, Fury moved him to a remote location until things died down, and then he was reinserted into duty at the time of the show.”

I was hoping that we’d see Black Widow get in the shower and find Agent Coulson there, Bobby Ewing style.

Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory will be joining the cast of the Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. This is the web version of Inspector Spacetime with name removed to avoid copyright infringement against Community. Incidentally, Community had its best post-Dan Harmon episode this week with a Freaky Friday storyline. The episode was written by Jim Rash, who plays the Dean and shows he picked up a few things about how the show should be done during the time he has spent appearing on it. Rash is interviewed about writing the episode here.

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner showed the above parody of House of Cards, coincidentally the same week in which I completed watching the series on Netflix. The release of all thirteen episodes of the first season provided the advantage of allowing for binge watching. The disadvantage was the inability for blogs to discuss this on a weekly basis coinciding with most people watching as is the case with most television shows. Events became far more compelling in the final several episodes and I did wind up binging on the show this Friday night. Events in the slower-moving earlier episodes do become much more important. On the other hand, the shows leaves open much to talk about and it would have been interesting to read the views of others as the events unfolded.

MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUT HOUSE OF CARDS FOLLOW.

DO NOT READ THE NEXT SECTION UNTIL YOU COMPLETE THE FIRST 13 EPISODES

House of Cards might be seen as a completed story if seen as Frank Underwood going from being bypassed for the Secretary of State appointment to being chosen to become the next Vice President, which Frank wants to use as a stepping stone to the presidency. With filming beginning on a second set of thirteen, many things are still hanging which could jeopardize Frank’s appointment and perhaps lead to even worse consequences. The most serious would be revelations as to how he manipulated Peter, especially if the murder is revealed. Claire’s  legal problems could also create enough of a problem to prevent the appointment, even if the complaint was fabricated. I suspect that ultimately the season will seem more like the first half of a novel.

Initially the series seemed like a more cerebral, political version of Revenge. Later Underwood’s real plan becomes clear. When Underwood first set up Russo’s fall, I assumed it was in retaliation for Peter acting independent of Underwood, threatening to expose past manipulations. Presumably Underwood had planned this from the start, with Peter’s disloyalty  just providing the reason to put the final stages into motion at the time. When Underwood started to wipe his fingerprints off of Peter’s steering wheel I predicted what he would do next, but did it really make sense to murder Peter where security cameras might have shown him come in? Having Peter permanently silenced would be of benefit, but Peter no longer had the same ability to cause harm to Underwood.

My biggest nitpick about the show was the manner in which alliances changed so easily. Frank’s wife betrayed him and then quickly became loyal to their joint goals after returning home (a second way in which Peter’s death was of benefit to Underwood as long as everyone continues to consider it a suicide). More implausible was the degree of loyalty to Underwood showed by the President’s chief of staff in later episodes. I could easily see her performing a few favors for Underwood, even floating his name as Vice President, in return for his favor. It went too far with her actually scheming with Underwood and allowing the release of the secret schedule.

Other changes in loyalties were easier to accept. Backstabbing by underlings such as Remy didn’t come as much of a surprise. Zoe is far more interesting as a reporter digging into what happened as opposed to the slut who got her stories by sleeping with sources. Best of all was seeing Zoe convince Christina to help find out what really drove Peter to suicide. There is no doubt that this House of Cards will start to collapse around Frank Underwood when the series returns now that his earlier actions are becoming uncovered.

END OF SPOILERS

The Americans started in a more conventional, weekly format on FX at about the same time as  House of Cards was placed on Netflix. The finale airs this Wednesday, with a preview of the episode here.  It is my favorite new series of this season, centering around two Russian spies who pose as as a married couple during the Reagan era. Their neighbor across the street happens to be an FBI agent. I won’t say more, recommending that those who have not seen the series pick it up from the beginning.

Finally, here are Conan O’Brien and Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner:

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; S.H.I.E.L.D.; Defiance; Continuum; Community; Dexter; Once Upon A Time; Zooey Deschanel, Terrorist; And A Warning From The Future

hide-2

Hide looked like a ghost story, but this week’s episode of Doctor Who was actually a love story involving two couples (or maybe a third). The young assistant Emma was the real reason for Doctor showing up where he did, to see if the clairvoyant Emma could detect anything unusual about Clara, “the only mystery worth solving.” While nothing unusual was revealed about Clara, Emma did warn Clara about the Doctor’s icy heart. I suspect this will play a part in whatever is revealed in the season finale.

The episode picked up on the theme of the TARDIS not yet accepting Clara, but by the end they worked out their differences and went on to save the Doctor. Last week in Cold War it was necessary to contrive a way to get rid of the TARDIS to avoid a simple solution to being trapped in the submarine. This week did something which few too many episodes do–use time travel as part of a story. This did wind up leaving one time traveler just hanging around, possibly a loose end to come up in  a future episode. It also showed Clara the full meaning of time travel and the Doctor:

Clara: “To you I haven’t been born yet, and to you I’ve been dead a hundred billion years. Is my body out there somewhere, in the ground?”

The Doctor: “Yes, I suppose it is.”

Clara: “But here we are, talking, so I am a ghost. To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing.”

The behind the scenes video is above.

This was actually the first episode filmed with the modern Clara Oswald, written by Neil Cross, who subsequently wrote The Rings of  Akhaten. Cross did better with his first attempt in Hide.  Like previous episodes since Doctor Who returned, there is an homage to a previous Doctor. This time it is John Pertwee’s Doctor, from a scientist with assistant (or is it companion?) using 1970′s oscilloscopes to the need for a blue crystal from Metebelis III. Will next week’s Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS include references to Tom Baker? I suddenly feel like some Jelly Bellies.

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B

Hide played with Doctor What while Steven Moffat has made the question Doctor Who? a recurring theme.  The official synopsis for The Name of the Doctor, the final episode of the season is “Someone is kidnapping the Doctor’s friends, leading him towards the one place in all of time and space that he should never go.” Moffat says we really will learn something we haven’t known about the Doctor, telling Radio Times: “There’s going to be a revelation. I’m not teasing. I’m not wrong-footing you – you’re about to learn something about the Doctor that you never knew before. And I think you’re in for a shock.”

River Song, who proved her relationship to the Doctor by being the only person to know his name in Forest of the Dead, will be returning in this episode. The Wedding of River Song included this warning:

“The Fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the eleventh and the question. The first question, the question that must never be answered hidden in plain sight, the question you’ve been running from all your life. Doctor who? Doctor who? DOCTOR WHO?”

The fall of the eleventh has been interpreted as meaning the time of his regeneration, but it might mean something different if the Doctor’s name really s revealed, or this might not be the secret which is revealed. Even if his name is revealed, there would have to be more to the secret for it to be meaningful. Finding that his name is the Gallifreyan equivalent of John Smith would not mean very much. Perhaps the Grammar Daleks have been correct and  his real name is Doctor Whom.

There is yet another possible clue to a secret in this rumor about the 50th Anniversary episode:

…there are several sites claiming that two very reliable sources have independently revealed that John Hurt will be playing the real 9th Doctor :O Basically Eccleston, Tennant and Smith’s Doctor have either forgotten or have repressed Hurt’s incarnation for some unknown reason, and it is very possible that the secret due to be revealed in the season finale next month is that Smith is the 12th Doctor rather than what his real name is.

I suspect that if this is the case John Hurt’s character might not really be the Doctor, similar to the misdirection in The Next Doctor. The order of the Doctors has become ingrained too much to disturb this chronology. If Matt Smith’s Doctor really is the twelfth, it might give Moffat an opportunity to answer the question of the number of regenerations. Originally Time Lords had thirteen but obviously they will not end the show when this limit comes. There was a throw away line when David Tennant was in an episode of Sarah Jane Adventures claiming 507 but the line wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. They already have had two events in the new episodes which could alter the original limit. As the Time Lords have been overthrown, nobody knows if the old rules apply. There is also the possibility that the Doctor obtained additional regenerations when River Song gave up her future regenerations to save the Doctor’s life in Let’s Kill Hitler There is plenty of precedent for transfer of regenerative powers in Doctor Who, giving Moffat a number of possible routes. Plus, unless the number is extended, where will the Valeyard fit into this–or has the Doctor managed to avoid that fate?

Clark Gregg has a lot of information on S.H.I.E.L.D in the video above. Transcript below via Bleeding Cool:

If you watched The Avengers it was hard to miss the moment where that Asgardian bastard stabbed me quite thoroughly. And I died in The Avengers and it was a sad day because I loved Agent Coulson, and I loved going to the cons and hanging out with the Coulson fans. I was a little heartbroken. The Marvel guys said “You’re dead. You’re dead. But it’s the comics so it’s a different form of dead. Who knows, maybe we’ll see you again some day.”

I thought “You know what, I had a hell of a time playing this guy, I loved the death scene, I loved what Joss did so much,” to want any more of it felt greedy. So when I got a call a couple of months ago to say ‘We want you to come to New York Comic-Con. We’re going to announce that perhaps Coulson lives” I was very curious but also wasn’t sure that I was necessarily down with it.

I didn’t want to do anything to undermine the integrity of The Avengers and Joss didn’t either. So I had a conversation with joss and he explained to me that this [show] takes place after The Avengers, after ‘The Battle of New York’. I’m from New York, I’ve lived in a world after somebody has attacked New York, I know that there’s fall out.

The Avengers version of that world is a world that has superheroes and doorways to other dimensions and chaos. And the way Joss described to me the mystery that takes place in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and the complexity and the unanswered questions about Phil Coulson standing there trying to deal with this, I found it so fascinating and so true to the world of the comics and mythology in general as I understand them that I was immediately in.

I don’t know you could not change going through what he went through in The Avengers. If he hadn’t gone through some kind of change it wouldn’t be any good. That said, I don’t know if he understands how much he’s changed.

It would be surprising to me if this was a world where there wasn’t some reckoning…the fact that there was some level of deception must have been perpetrated on The Avengers. It must have been.

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Defiance has been billed as the next big thing from Syfy but I was not very impressed. The computer-generated special effects looked fake and I just don’t see the point in computer generated graphics which fail to give a sense of reality to scenes which could not otherwise be filmed. The town of Defiance, which is St. Louis around thirty years after a war which has altered earth, provides a scene which could just as easily be an alien planet or a spaceship which contains civilians. Julie Benz is the mayor (or if this was a spaceship, she fulfills the traditional science fiction role of the Captain). In this case, the future looks like the old west, but is far less fun than Firefly. The backdrop will allow for a wide variety of stories, with stories which felt very familiar filling the two-hour premier. Now that we have the setting down, perhaps the series can move onto more original stories.

Continuum is returning to a second season. Star Rachel Nichols was interviewed here. An excerpt:

What can we expect from the new season?
The second season is very interesting. Obviously the first season was very centered on getting home. I wanted to go home. I would be friends with the baddies, I would partner up with Liber8, whatever it took to get home. It’s obviously still important to me in the new season. However, the theme of Season 2 is responsibility. Kagame had a speech at the end of the last season about how, if you drop a pebble on one side of the world, it will become a tsunami on the other. For Keira that’s very, very important, because she wants to get home to her husband and her son. Very early on in season 2, she starts asking questions: what am I going to be returning home to? Am I costing my husband and son their lives? Will they never be born? Will I never be born because of what I’m doing now? It’s a lot to wrap your head around!

This week’s Community brought up the dark timeline. There was also a lot of nonsense such as the group believing they failed, with the grade changing to a C to an F and back again, and a knot which was not a knot. It is clear that new producers David Guarascio and Moses Port do want to keep this show as offbeat and original as it was under Dan Harmon. They just don’t have the ability to pull it off.

Dexter will be returning for its final season. A sneak peak at part of the first episode is above. The final trajectory for the series is in motion, but a spinoff isn’t ruled out.

Emilie de Ravin of Lost teased tonight’s episode of Once Upon A Time by describing her character (after losing her memory) as “young, scantily-clad chick, Lacey.” Okay, she sold me on watching, even if it is on network television.

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Zooey Deschanel was identified on the closed captioning as the suspect being chased in Boston on Friday by one television station. Needless to say, it was a Fox channel. This is no more ridiculous (and false) than most of the type going by while watching Fox, such as identifying Barack Obama as a socialist from Kenya.

From 2068, above is a documentary on The Internet: A Warning from History. The Internet was one of the greatest disasters to befall mankind…

 

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who? The Wedding of River Song

Like last year’s season finale, The Big Bang, Doctor Who ended the season by resetting the universe and with a wedding. The Wedding of River Song mostly answered the questions raised over the past season of Doctor Who. Earlier episodes of the season provided two possible ways in which there could be a replica of the Doctor who might be the one to die at Lake Silencio. A two-part story  earlier in the season (The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People) dealt with doppelgangers, including one who had replaced Amy Pond. Let’s Kill Hitler introduced the Teselecta, a time traveling ship with miniaturized people which takes the shape of a person. I thought that the Gangers were a more plausible explanation for who took the Doctor’s place, believing that a Ganger would be more likely to go into a regeneration cycle than a Teselecta if shot, but apparently Steven Moffat didn’t see it this way. I imagine that the Doctor, knowing that the Teselecta was going to simulate his death, managed to develop the appropriate special effects to make the death scene look convincing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqFB7I14VIY&feature=player_embedded

In order to create the drama for this season, as well as to prevent the Doctor from changing history to solve other problems,  the concept of a fixed point in time was established. The Doctor revealed in The Fires of Pompeii that he couldn’t change the events of history as this was a fixed point. Similarly the destruction of the base in The Waters of Mars was a fixed point in time which could not be changed. But what happens if a time traveler does change the events of a fixed point?  The Wedding of River Song showed what happened when River Song did change a fixed point by initially failing to kill the Doctor. When River failed to kill the Doctor, there was a bizarre traffic jam in time, in which events from a variety of eras got lumped together:

The description of a time traffic jam in the above video is preferable to the description given by Winston Churchill of all of history happening at one time. Even though the clocks did not move, there was obviously a concept of time as events were occurring. We saw Charles Dickens being interviewed about his upcoming Christmas story despite the fact that the calendars were not moving towards December 25, and we saw the Holy Roman Emperor (Winston Churchill) seek out the Doctor, who had previously been imprisoned. All of history could not have been happening at once or we would have seen every British leader in history, along with everyone else who has every lived in London.

Seeing time getting messed up made for memorable scenes, regardless of whether it made sense. Additional highlights of the episode included an homage to Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) while an off-screen homage to Elisabeth Sladen started the season, the homage to the Indiana Jones movies, River seeing the Doctor in the eye of the Teselecta, and “Pond, Amy Pond.” It seemed totally consistent with her character to have Amy remember the Doctor as opposed to wasting time in the episode finding a way to restore her memory, but I wonder what the people around her thought of all the weird pictures on her wall. In other revelations, the eye patches turned out to be “eye drives,” a way in which to store memory of the Silence, and there was more foreshadowing of the Doctor’s future. Some questions have not been answered, such as where the picture of Amy holding Melody in the orphanage came from.

Some of the key events of the episode, such as the wedding of River Song and the death of Madame Kovarian, occurred in an time line which was reset. It appears likely that the wedding remains real based upon events in other episodes.  The major change to occur in this episode is that, after becoming too prominent a hero in earlier episodes, the universe must now think that the Doctor is dead. One possible explanation is that the Doctor can cheat the fixed point in time as he did  by remaining alive, but the history books must still record that he died at Lake Silencio. Presumably, if the Doctor could later reveal it was all a trick and he is alive he would have done so to save River from going to prison. Instead River must spend her days in prison and nights traveling around the universe with her husband, the Doctor. There is another possible interpretation below. More on River Song’s story was reviewed on Doctor Who Confidential, with a copy of the video posted here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXR3Jw4U0s4&feature=player_embedded

The God Complex gave the Doctor reason to question the prominence of his role. This episode caused him to realize that, “My friends have always been the best of me.” Besides changing the character of the Doctor into a hero who must act behind the scenes, the episode seems to foreshadow the Doctor’s future. Presumably talk of when the Eleventh will fall refers to the Eleventh Doctor, while the question in plain sight has been asked before: “Doctor Who?” Does this foreshadow the next regeneration, or just another moment in which the Doctor must cheat destiny and prevent his fate from taking place? Perhaps the survival of the Doctor ensures that it is the Silence who will fill at the fields of Trenzalore. The Doctor pretended to be trapped in order to surprise the Silence in Day of the Moon. I wonder if the real reason the Doctor must now appear dead is to once again surprise the Silence, to ensure that it is the Silence who fall and not the Eleventh.

Other than the Christmas episode, which has started filming, we will probably have to wait around a year for more new episodes. Doctor Who Confidential will not be around when the series resumes, having been discontinued due to BBC budget cuts. There is this one brief episode of Doctor Who to watch. The winner of a writing contest held among school children was filmed as a mini-episode, Death Is The Only Answer:

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and Torchwood:Miracle Day; Steven Moffat on River Song

Night Terrors was an enjoyable,  99 percent stand-alone, episode of Doctor Who written by Mark Gattis. We were first led to believe it was about a boy who feared  monsters in his closet. We ultimately found that the monsters were real and that it wasn’t Narnia in his cupboard. It turned out that the most important fears were not really of the monsters but a child’s fear (even if the child wasn’t human) of being rejected.

I have one complaint about the episode. Although it seemed to deal with problems George had his entire life, everything major happened one night. This included getting the distress call to the Doctor to save him from the monsters to George making people in his apartment complex, along with the visitors from the TARDIS, all disappear. There was no indication that he did this to people he feared before this night. Gattis should have worked in some reason to claim that George’s powers were stronger that night to explain these things.

In an episode dealing with children’s fears, Mark Gattis was asked to write a nursery rhyme to tie into the season’s arc:

Tick tock goes the clock
And what now shall we play?
Tick tock goes the clock
Now summer’s gone away?

Tick tock goes the clock
And what then shall we see?
Tick tock until the day
That thou shalt marry me

Tick tock goes the clock
And all the years they fly
Tick tock and all too soon
You and I must die

Tick tock goes the clock
We laughed at fate and mourned her
Tick tock goes the clock
Even for the Doctor

Tick tock goes the clock
He cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock
Even for the Doctor…

This season’s arc is even more remarkable as River Song’s story goes back to well before this season. Viewing Let’s Kill Hitler suggested that, while Steven Moffat may have had a general idea for River Song’s story, he hadn’t planned it all out ahead of time. If he had, it would have only made sense to have such a good friend of Amy’s be seen in previous episodes. Some idea of how the storyline came about can be seen in Maureen Ryan’s interview of Steven Moffat. Reading the full interview it is obvious that it occurred before Let’s Hill Hitler.

I’m interested in the conception of the River Song story. In ‘Silence in the Library,’ did you already know she was going to be the daughter of a companion?
Oh no, no. I mean, it was one possible theory. Why is it somebody who’s got such connections, who would that be? Is it just a future companion? What if it’s somebody’s got a lifelong commitment to the Doctor or his companion? So when I introduced Amy, I kept my options open [and used the name Pond]. I thought I was doing [the name thing] in plain sight and nobody [caught] it for a long while. But I didn’t know at the time Karen was going to stay long enough for that story to come off. I didn’t know if Alex would keep coming back.

So Plan A held, but there were other ones, including the [Plan B] that maybe River never came back at all and you could just imagine that she knows the 59th Doctor in the far future.

Actually I, and I’m sure many others, were suspicious of a connection between the names Pond and River for quite a while, and there was considerable speculation that River was Amy’s daughter before this was confirmed.

Later in the interview:

With River Song and her meeting the Doctor “backwards,” is that important to the character? Is that something that needs to be explained?
When she says that, she’s being poetic, to some degree. The broad sweep of how she meets the Doctor is out of sequence. It’s not necessarily always exactly out of sequence. It’s been taken to mean, by some people, but that every time they meet, it’s the exact reverse. We already know that’s not true. And we’ve seen it not be true.

But look at it from River’s point of view — it feels as though every time she meets him [it's backwards], and she knows the day is coming when he won’t know her at all. There’s an adventure she hasn’t had yet where the Doctor doesn’t know her. She knows it’s coming. She is generalizing: “Most of the times I meet him, generally he’s younger and knows me slightly less well.”

Will we ever know why that was the case? Does it matter for her character?
Why should we always meet people in the right order?

I don’t know, it might help time-travel dummies like me.
But who says you would [meet people that way]? It’s actually highly improbable that if you traveled around in time — why would you meet people in the right order? What law, what ticking clock is making that [happen]?

With River Song and her meeting the Doctor “backwards,” is that important to the character? Is that something that needs to be explained?
When she says that, she’s being poetic, to some degree. The broad sweep of how she meets the Doctor is out of sequence. It’s not necessarily always exactly out of sequence. It’s been taken to mean, by some people, but that every time they meet, it’s the exact reverse. We already know that’s not true. And we’ve seen it not be true.

But look at it from River’s point of view — it feels as though every time she meets him [it's backwards], and she knows the day is coming when he won’t know her at all. There’s an adventure she hasn’t had yet where the Doctor doesn’t know her. She knows it’s coming. She is generalizing: “Most of the times I meet him, generally he’s younger and knows me slightly less well.”

Will we ever know why that was the case? Does it matter for her character?
Why should we always meet people in the right order?

I don’t know, it might help time-travel dummies like me.
But who says you would [meet people that way]? It’s actually highly improbable that if you traveled around in time — why would you meet people in the right order? What law, what ticking clock is making that [happen]?

I’ve been suspecting that Russell T. Davies pitched the general idea of Torchwood: Miracle Day and was given ten episodes before he had any idea as to how he would fill this many episodes. Some episodes felt like they were just filler. Even this week’s episode, The Gathering, seemed to be killing time when they had the authorities search Gwen’s home not once, but twice. It would have been better to limit to one search, and spend more time showing events which were limited to discussion this episode.

I am having difficulty figuring out the motivation here for such aggressive action against Category 1 individuals. I can see the justification (ignoring the moral issues) of burning them if they are using up limited hospital facilities, but it wouldn’t be worth extensive police resources to hunt out people kept at home. It would be different if they knew that Gwen was robbing pharmacies for supplies, but they clearly have no suspicion of that.

The episode did show a move towards despotism. Rather than searching out Category 1 individuals, I would suspect that instead we would be seeing forced sterilizations to offset the population growth from the near-absence of death.

An even bigger complaint about how the series has been playing out has been that the Torchwood team might some discoveries, such as about the stock pile of pain medications and what was happening in the camps, but the really important clues seem to just occur.  The episode ended giving the appearance that Jack and Gwen might find the Blessing not due to their own detective work but from a drop of Jack’s blood showing the way. Plus we learned that it is possible to dig all the way to China.

How the series concludes, and how it answers the many remaining questions, will ultimately determine how the show is evaluated. Here’s is the extended UK/Australian trailer for next week’s concluding episode:


It is not known if Torchwood will return for any future seasons, but there is hope now that Starz and the BBC have entered into a multi-year agreement.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Let’s Kill Hitler & Torchwood: Miracle Day

Tonight we had a rare event,which will reoccur for a brief time: new episodes of both Doctor Who and Torchwood. Even rarer, both are at a point where they are starting to give answers. Who Killed Hitler gave a lot of answers regarding the season-long arc as well as the multi-season story of River Song. Major spoilers follow.

The story began with Amy and Rory near home, having built a signal for the Doctor in a corn field. There’s no explanation of how the two got back to earth after the Battle of Demons Run, and this is just one of many plot-holes which it is best to ignore to enjoy this over-the-top story. They are  joined by their childhood friend, Mels, who is obsessed with the Doctor and blames all evil in the world on the Doctor’s failure to fix things. This leads to a trip through time to kill Hitler, who spent most of the episode locked in the cupboard.

Mel’s attempt to kill Hitler was interrupted by the Tesselector, a ship full of time travelors disguised as a shape-shifting robot which tortures historical villains who otherwise went unpunished. They shifted their target from Hitler to who they described as the worst war criminal in history–the woman who killed the Doctor.

This is all interspersed with flashbacks of Mels growing up with Amy and Rory. The later two had a relationship just as we might imagine. Rory was infatuated with Amy but Amy, who really did like Rory, assumed he was gay because he never showed any interest in other girls. At least Amy did run after Rory when Mels pointed out the flaw in her thoughts about Rory.

Mels got killed in  Hitler’s office and regenerated into a confused version of River Song. Leave it to Steven Moffat to have Amy name her daughter after her old friend Mels, who was actually River Song/Melody Pond all along. In a strange way, Amy and Rory did get to raise their child.

River was programmed to kill the Doctor and kissed him with poisonous lipstick, with regeneration also somehow prevented. Meanwhile, Amy and Rory got miniaturized and beamed into the Tesselector. This set up Rory for one of the great lines of the episode:  “I’m trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor.”

Meanwhile the Doctor, who already had a new coat and who was now in the midst of dying, spent much of his remaining time getting dressed up in formal wear. We got the rumored scenes with post-companions, but they were just projections from the TARDIS. There continued to be adventure  aboard the Tesselector, which for some unknown reason was packed with giant killer jellyfish. Amy prevented the Tesselector from killing River by destroying the mechanism which kept the jellyfish from killing everyone aboard–both a morally questionable move as well as one with obvious dangers.

The Doctor convinced River she didn’t want to go through life knowing she had killed her true love before they even got involved. As the Doctor put it, ““She did kill me, and then she used her remaining lives to bring me back. As first dates go, I’d say that was mixed signals.”

By River giving up her remaining regenerations to save the Doctor, she set up her own death in Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead. I wonder if this also means the Doctor will have additional regenerations, providing one way for Moffat to get around the previously established (and certain to be bypassed) limitation on regenerations.

All this went on with very little of Hitler in the actual story. Here is Adolph Hitler’s reaction to his appearance in Doctor Who:

In this episode, the Doctor learned about his future death and presumably is now plotting some way around this. We learned that the Silence isn’t really a species but a religious movement obsessed with a first question reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. There were further references to The Graduate with the relationship between River and the Doctor. There was even this poster referring to Silence at the school which Amy and Mels attended:

While there are still gaps, we now know much more about River Song’s life:

River was conceived in the Tardis after the Amy and Rory’s wedding, giving a whole new meaning to the episode title, The Big Bang. She was born on Demons Run and then raised in a creepy orphanage in the 1960′s, while being brainwashed to kill the Doctor.  At some point a picture was taken of her with Amy–perhaps we will see a trip to that orphanage sometime later this season to explain it. She escaped (perhaps intentionally allowed to escape) and wound up in New York where she had what was probably not her first regeneration. She wound up becoming a delinquent friend of Amy and Rory, ultimately getting aboard the TARDIS in this episode. After the  regeneration in this episode, River was left  with the Sisters Of The Infinite Schism. Somewhere along the way she has an affair with the Doctor as well as becoming imprisoned for killing him. The episode ended with her going into archeology so she could stalk the Doctor through time. I also bet she winds up assisting the Doctor in staging his death (or maybe the death of a Ganger) so that this fixed point in time can occur with the Doctor remaining alive.

Things also happened on this week’s episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, End of the Road, and we seem to be coming towards a conclusion, but generally things just sort of  happen. We don’t really see the Torchwood team taking the lead in solving the mystery as opposed to grabbing bits and pieces of information over time. Perhaps that will change in the final two episodes. While the previous episode featured Gwen capturing Jack because of her family being held captive, this week’s episode quickly dispensed with the threat. Why didn’t Angelo’s granddaughter simply call Jack (or deliver a message thru Gwen) that Angelo was still alive?

There were some good touches. Newman was exposed as a bad guy and Q arrested him. Oswald Danes was shown as really being creepy, but also likely to receive the punishment he deserves now that he is designated Category 0.  For long-time Torchwood fans, there was a reference to Ianto.

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Karen Gillan on BBC Breakfast

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nmf-IdlDOfU&feature=player_embedded

Karen Gillan on BBC Breakfast earlier today, talking about tomorrow’s return of Doctor Who and an upcoming role in a romantic comedy.

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Doctor Who Prequel Scene

The BBC released this prequel scene  for Doctor Who. It takes place after the Battle of Demon’s Run and before the next episode of Doctor Who, Let’s Kill Hitler, in which the Doctor encounters the worst war criminal in history, and Hitler, while searching for Amy Pond’s kidnapped baby.

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Doctor Who: The Second Half of Season 6

Above is the trailer for the second half of Season 6 from Comic Con. The biggest news from the Doctor Who panel today was the announcement of the air date in the US and UK for Let’s Kill Hitler, the first episode when the season returns from hiatus. It will air August 27. There will also reportedly be lots of cliff hangers in the second half of the season, and Karen Gillan, who earlier stated she will be returning for Season 7, teased: “My secret, I’ve still got. And you still don’t know it. It’s so exciting! I feel so powerful now.”

I hope to have video of the Doctor Who panel later tonight or tomorrow to post.

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