SciFi Weekend: Sherlock Season 3 In Review

sherlock-the-empty-hearse

Now that the series has completed in the United States, I can discuss season three of Sherlock without spoiling it for American viewers who did not download it when the series first aired. There are major spoilers for those who have not seen season three yet.

The season was far more meta and fannish compared to the first two seasons. The first episode, The Empty Hearse,  played with fan reaction to the cliffhanger by showing various possible solutions as to how Sherlock survived the fall. The episode also concentrated on how a world in which this Sherlock is real would react to Sherlock’s apparent death and rumors that he has survived.

Apparently Sherlock did fool Moriarty’s people who were watching to see if Sherlock went through with jumping. Unfortunately the explanation concentrated on fooling Watson, but the more contrived it was to fool Watson, the greater the chance that one of Moriarty’s men should have seen something to tip them off that Sherlock was faking his death.

The relationship between Sherlock and Watson, along with their relationships with women, was also a major theme of the season. Sherlock sure misjudged how Watson would react to seeing him alive. Although Mrs. Hudson, in one of many amusing scenes in the episode, was surprised to see that Watson’s fiancé was a woman, there was very good chemistry between John and Mary. This was partially due to Mary being played by Martin Freeman’s wife Amanda Abbington. We learned later in the season that Mary is not exactly what she seems, but in the end that actually makes her a better partner for a Watson who is spending time fighting crime with Sherlock (once we move beyond awkward events such as Mary shooting Sherlock later in the season).

sherlock-wedding

The Sign of Three was again more about relationships than a classic Sherlock Holmes story. Sherlock faced one of the hardest tasks of his life–writing the best man’s toast at Watson’s wedding. Sherlock often looked awkward, and at times I felt like I was watching Sheldon Cooper. Besides the talk about John as a friend, Sherlock brought up past cases, some of which were unsolved. In the end this was all tied together as there was an attempted murder at the wedding, and a previous unsolved case provided the information to figure out how to stop it. Unfortunately the method of the attempted murder was not very realistic.

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His Last Vow was the best episode of the season, and many have called it the best of the series. It was the most like a conventional episode, but relationships between both Sherlock and Holmes with women played a key part. Sherlock’s relationship was established to obtain information, and we learned the truth about Mary’s past with the CIA. Lars Mikkelsen did as wonderful a job playing  Magnussen as his brother does playing Hannibal.

I found the ending with Magnussen to be somewhat disappointing. Sherlock could not get the evidence to convict Magnussen, or stop him using conventional means as the information was all in his head, so he had no solution but to shoot him. Besides not being an entirely satisfactory ending, I find it hard to believe that Magnussen would have allowed Sherlock into his home without checking for a gun. There were other situations solved too simply this season, such as Sherlock stopping a bomb by hitting the off switch (after playing with Watson).

Moriarty Miss Me

As punishment for murdering Magnussen, Sherlock was sent on a mission to East Europe which was predicted to result in his death in six months. This sentence was changed when Moriarty’s face showed up on screens all over England with the question, “Miss Me?”

Fans will be speculating over this cliff hanger just as they did over the cliff hanger over how Sherlock survived the fall. There are many possibilities, but we might not find out the answer for two years.

I always found it questionable that Moriarty would devise a plan to kill Sherlock in which he would not survive to enjoy seeing this, or anything else. Moffat has claimed in interviews that Moriarty is really dead, but we know Moffat lies, or that Mark Gattis might have different ideas. Maybe we are to take this on face value and Moriarty really did fake his death. Moriarty and Sherlock are often parallels of each other. In that way it might fit to have the question between one season be how Sherlock faked his death, and then move on to how Moriarty faked his death.

There is another variation on this which I like. At one point in The Reichenbach Fall, the Moriarty character claimed to really be an actor named Rich Brook and that Sherlock invented Moriarty. What if he was partially telling the truth. Maybe the person we saw kill himself really was an actor, perhaps really named Rich Brook except one working for Moriarty, and was coerced by the real Moriarty into killing himself. I can more easily see Moriarty coercing someone else into pretending to be Moriarty and killing himself than I can see the actual Moriarty committing suicide.

It is also possible that the suggestion that Moriarty is alive was a complete hoax. Perhaps another villain, or one of Moriarty’s men, arranged this and plan to commit future crimes in Moriarty’s name.

Sherlock might have arranged this as a backup plan in case his initial plans to get the evidence against Magnussen failed and he wound up getting arrested.  A more likely possibility is that Mycroft Holmes was responsible. It has been established that he has considerable technological abilities. It was also established earlier in the episode that he did not want to see his brother go to his death in Eastern Europe. This could have been his way of ensuring that Sherlock would be brought back home.

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

timeofthedoctor

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.

almost-human-minka-kelly

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).

SciFi Weekend: Sherlock Returns In the US; Doctor Who News; Merlin to be Darker; The Avengers; Awake; Fringe; Gratuitous Sex on Game of Thrones; Jericho; Lost; Friday Night Lights;

With Doctor Who now filming and the second season of Sherlock premiering in the United States tonight, there has been a lot of news about both shows. For those who have not seen it, Steven Moffat’s version of Sherlock is fantastic, regardless of whether you are a fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. It is definitely worth watching for the next three weeks on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.  I think that the second season was even better than the first. While all three episodes were excellent, like the first season the first and third episodes are the most significant.

Steven Moffat was interviewed in the United States by Fresh Air prior to the start of the second season of Sherlock on PBS. The interview was primarily directed towards American audiences who are not familiar with Sherlock and Doctor Who. Several of the questions involved casting, and one item of interest was that Matt Smith had interviews for the role of Watson before being chosen to play the Doctor. Moffat also had this to say about casting Matt Smith:

Everything else about a show, other than casting — however great or admirable or excellent it is — can only sort of really be admired. People don’t really have a relationship with great writing or great production or great art direction or great direction. They just sort of admire it. What people fall in love with, oddly enough, is other people. The difference between a beautifully made failure and a beautifully made hit is who you’ve got playing the leads. It really, seriously is. Is a nation going to fall in love with those people and want to see them week after week? And making that decision is tough. But it’s easier if you’ve got a great casting director. … In the case of Matt Smith as The Doctor, I’d be very, very adamant that we have an older Doctor — that he’d be in his 40s. I wasn’t going to have any young Doctors on my watch. And on the very, very first day — the very, very first day — he was the third one through the door. His audition was so perfect, any fool would have cast him. It was dead easy. And I remember asking, ‘What age is he?’ And he was 26 and instantly the perfect Doctor because he does do that thing of combining the old man and a young man. He looks like a young man assembled by old men from memory.”

On the importance of Watson:

“If you look at any good version of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson is every bit as important as Sherlock Holmes, and some would argue more so, because he’s our conduit to Sherlock Holmes. He’s the person to whom, in a way, the story happens. We are more emotionally resonant with Dr. Watson than with Sherlock Holmes because Sherlock Holmes is a hard man to empathize with.”

In contrast, the show is largely from Sherlock’s perspective:

“We always wanted it to be stylish. We didn’t want it to be like other television. We wanted it to have a film sense. Everybody says that about their TV show. Everyone says that. But then my wife got a hold of [director] Paul McGuigan, and he’s the one who brought the tremendous beauty to it. One of the things he said was, ‘You want to think Sherlock Holmes is behind the camera, too.’ You want to see the world as Sherlock Holmes sees it. And that informs his work on an awful lot of the show, to give you the Sherlock’s eye view of the world all the time.”

Moffat had this to say about his childhood:

“I’m a geek. I’m a writer. I spent all of my time in my childhood obsessing about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. I was alone, I was an outsider — what do you expect? I was that bullied kid at the back of the class weeping for loneliness. I don’t think, generally speaking, people become writers because they were the really good, really cool, attractive kid in class. I’ll be honest. This is our revenge for people who were much better looking and more popular than us. I was a bit like that, I suppose.”

Even though Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are becoming big stars, Moffat is confident that they will return for future series of Sherlock. The three episode a year formula gives them plenty of time for other projects and, just to be safe, Moffat has their families locked up in his basement. Cumberbatch, now filming on Star Trek, does not share Moffat’s objection to Elementary:

“As we already know with the Downey Jr movie franchise that there’s room enough for two [Sherlock Holmes projects], so why not three?” the actor said at a Q&A session in New York to promote Sherlock series two airing on PBS.

Cumberbatch added that he considers Trainspotting star Miller – with whom he starred in the play Frankenstein at the National Theatre – a “friend”.

“[Elementary will] be different and I don’t think it’ll take away the love for ours, and there’s no reason to be churlish or bitter about them or what they’re trying to do,” he said.

It appears that River (aka Melody Pond) will pose as a gangster named Melody Malone. More pictures (and spoilers) from the upcoming season can be seen here.Doctor Who TV also gathered items of interest from an interview with Steven Moffat in Doctor Who Magazine:

  • Rory and Amy are no longer regular travelers with the Doctor: “If he thinks he needs them, he just pops in on them,” but, “Each time they’ll get a little older.”
  • Moffat on killing off companions: “Even if I don’t think I’ll do it…maybe I will do it!”
  • Moffat ponders, “If we did a UNIT story, would Martha be there?”
  • The Special Weapons Dalek will definitely appear in the opener
  • Moffat reiterates that the New Paradigm Daleks are an “officer class”
  • Can the question “Doctor Who?” be answered? “Wait and see”
  • We will find out exactly what Trenzalore is all about
  • “The Fall of the Eleventh” will also be resolved (perhaps not in Series 7 though)
  • Moffat is very keen that the order of the episodes can be swapped around this time
  • There will still be a story arc, but it will be “the opposite” of Series 6
  • Even though he said no more two-parters, they are still possible if the story requires them
  • Jenna-Louise’s companion will be different to the others and is “going to be a shock”
  • Filming will continue throughout the rest of 2012 and further into 2013 and beyond

Bond director Sam Mendes compared the James Bond franchise to Doctor Who in this interview:

The first time I saw the movie, I was like, “You’ve got to be joking! You can’t do that to the poor man!” But it was too…they were playing almost embarrassment, almost apologized for having a new Bond and I thought that was wrong, and I thought what they got right was Casino Royale. There was a kind of “We don’t need Q, we don’t need Moneypenny. We’ve got this character. We’re going right back to basics. He’s real, he’s in a real situation. Let’s start all over again.”  I thought that was very refreshing.

That’s why I mentioned the word in the press conference, “regeneration” rather than “evolving,” because I feel it is like, you know, we have Doctor Who…there’s a geek answer…we have Doctor Who and I was brought up on the idea of Doctor Who, who at the end of his final episode, he dissolves and a new actor pops up and he regenerates and it’s a whole other character: sometimes it’s an old man, sometimes it’s a young man, but he just changes.  I’ve always loved that idea.

Julian Murphy says that Season 5 of Merlin will be darker. Time will have passed showing the established court of Arthur, and there will be an older Mordred.

Combine Marvel characters and Joss Whedon and we had a formula where The Avengers really did live up to all the hype. An interview with Joss Whedon is above. The movie sets up conditions for further movies centered around Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.  Mark Ruffalo did a much better job of playing Bruce Banner than Edward Norton did , and now there are reports that further Hulk movies might be made, possibly along with a movie centered around Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. As has been the case with the previous Marvel movies, it is important to stay in the theater during the credits for an extra scene. In this case there are two extra scenes. One during the credits is probably significant in terms of a future threat for Thor and/or The Avengers. The second, at the very end of the credits, is not important but was still fun to watch.

As many watch movies long after the initial release date I tend to avoid saying much about the plot of movies in posts here. Those wanting to avoid even a minor spoiler might want to skip the end of this paragraph. In movies of this type it is necessary to accept a lot which is unrealistic, but I was bothered a little with the inconsistency in the portrayal of the Hulk. The first time Banner became the Hulk he was more destructive and showed less understanding of his situation as compared to his final appearance in the second Hulk movie. Then, when he became the Hulk for a second time, he acted with complete understanding of working as part of the Avengers team.

As usual with Awake, the personal events involving Britten in this week’s episode, Slack Water, were more interesting than the criminal cases. Once again the possible clues as to whether the two different worlds for Britten are both real are also contradictory. In some episodes there is real information obtained in one world which is helpful to solve a crime in the other. Other episodes were more like this week, were the house which is the scene of the crime in one reality was the name of a video game played by a murder victim in another, leading to Britten finding out information which helped solve the crime. Having the house be real in one reality but a video game in the other suggests that only one, or perhaps neither, reality experienced by Britten is real and his mind (or some other source) is supplying this information.

The more important story line came out of the revelation last week that Rex’s girl friend Emma was pregnant, with Emma having a miscarriage in the world where Rex survived the auto crash and continuing to carry Rex’s child in the world where Rex was killed. It was rather obvious that Emma did not agree with the decision of her parents to have a closed adoption, even if only Hannah recognized this during most of the episode. A theme of the show has been for Michael Britten to replace his loses in both realities. Where Hannah died, he keeps the older partner and has a female psychiatrist. In the reality where Rex was killed, Michael has a young male psychiatrist and is given a new, younger male partner.  (I did find it strange that the older former partner was not seen at Michael’s going away party in the other reality where Michael was given new partner.) Now things have worked out in the reality where Rex died that Michael not only has the prospect of adopting Rex’s child, but events have also worked out that they have a new teen-aged child in the home.

One implication of this is that Britten is no longer planning to move to Oregon and the person responsible for the earlier attempt on his life is now likely to act again. The back story was further developed as we learned that this involves a heroin shipment, and we learned that the police Captain  had been a narcotics cop in the past, providing some explanation as to how she might have become involved.

The previews for next week’s episode suggest that we might learn more about Britten’s situation. For at least part of the episode he ceases to go into the Rex universe. Could this mean that over there he is dead (unlikely), unconsciousness, or perhaps because he has to solve the mystery of his attempted murder in the other universe in order to protect himself in the other before returning. A voice over in the preview has Britten saying,  “There was no accident. They were trying to kill me.” Unfortunately Britten is off screen, so we cannot tell if he is wearing the typical white shirt of the Hannah universe or blue shirt of the Rex universe and we cannot be certain if the murder attempt, so far only mentioned in the Rex universe, is now becoming a factor in the Hannah universe.

While there has been suspicion that Leonard Nimoy was going to return to play William Bell on Fringe, they still managed to keep Nimoy’s actual appearance on this week’s episode of Fringe a secret. As an example of the misdirection used, in an interview shortly before the last episode aired, Jeff  Pinkner had this to say about the possibility of Nimoy returning: “We basically erected a sign outside of Leonard’s house which said, “Please come back to Fringe,” and we are hoping that by season five he says yes.” In the interview Pinkner also said we will again see the world of 2036 but avoided answering a question as to whether we will see the alternative universe again.

I09 looked at the gratuitous sex and violence on Game of Thrones.

There has been talk this week that Netflix might revive Jericho. It makes sense for Netflix to revive shows which have a strong following (such as with Arrested Development) even if off the air for several years considering they are shows which significant numbers of Netflix subscribers are currently watching. As more companies start to compete with Netflix for streaming older shows, providing new episodes will give subscribers reason to stick with Netflix.

Speaking of streaming providers, there was a major update to the Android versions of HBO Go and Max Go this week so that they finally work with Ice Cream Sandwich.

If Netflix might bring back Jericho, there has been speculation as to other old shows which might return. Damon Lindelof leaves open the idea of more Lost, but is not interested in personally being involved:

Lindelof has no interest in revisiting “Lost” anytime soon.

“It’s been two years (since the series wrapped) and we told the story we wanted to tell,” Lindelof said. But he admits ABC might look for ways to bring back “Lost” in some form. “I do feel like the world has not seen the end of ‘Lost,’ but I’m not going to have any involvement,” he said.

Lindelof isn’t bitter about the idea, however.

“It would be hypocritical for me to say I’m going to do ‘Star Trek’ but I don’t want anyone to touch ‘Lost,’ ” he said.

It is also looking like the plans to bring back Friday Night Lights as a movie are really going forward.