SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Hannibal; Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; The Americans; Fargo; Continnum; Game of Thrones; The Newsroom; Hugo Nominees

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Orphan Black returned for a second season following several days of receiving a considerable amount of publicity for being such a high quality show, even if few knew about it when it aired last season. Nature Under Constraint and Vexed picked up right where the show left off last season, but BBC America did run a show last week which might help new viewers catch up, and has been rerunning the entire first season. It is definitely worth watching the full season before starting the second season.

The initial moments, while not as dramatic as the first moments of the first season, when Sarah saw someone who looks just like herself jump in front of a train, did have a similar feel. Sarah was on the run, and initially could not contact anyone else. Subsequently Sarah did reunite with Felix and then with some of her clones. Tatiana Massany has been widely praised for her work as multiple female lead characters in roles far more challenging than those faced by Patty Duke.This includes the following characters mentioned here: Sarah, Beth, Allison, Cosima, Helena, and Rachel.

Last season Sarah did frequently pretend to be Beth, taking her place after her suicide, and briefly impersonated Allison last season. Beyond this they did not take advantage of the fact that Sarah and her clones are even more alike than identical cousins. I liked that Sarah did use this to her advantage twice this week, both with using Alison as a decoy and impersonating the lesbian scientist Cosima, even fooling Delphine when she kissed her. They were also less concerned about hiding their existence, but it hardly matters that Ramone saw someone identical to Allison.

Orphan Black Sarah as Cosima

The episode made excellent use out of the supporting characters. Felix’s performance, and clothing, were most notable, but other characters were also important. I’m glad that Art is now in on what is going on and expect to see him help Sarah more in the future. Paul is at least partially under the control of Dyad, but does seem to want to help Sarah. Delphine seemed to have sided with Cosima, then betrayed her by doing the one thing Cosima told her not to do-give a sample of her blood to Dr. Aldous Leekie. Even Leekie’s motivations are not entirely clear, and in the end I can see him acting to protect the clones.

Besides the clones on one side and Leekie and the Dyad Institute on the other, it looks like other people, another branch of  the anti-clone religious extremists of Proleatheans, will have a major role in the second season. It appears that they have Kira and possibly Mrs. S, and the biggest surprise of the episode was that the presumed-dead Helena is still alive. A lesser surprise, but still unexpected, was how little interest Rachel seemed to have in Kira, except as bait to capture Sarah.

The location of the show remains purposely ambiguous. The show films in Toronto but unlike Continuum doesn’t actually state its Canadian location. They have not tried especially hard to hide this, with Canadian money and license plates visible in some scenes. The federal agency brought in to investigate was intentionally not named, while mention of a Supreme Court decision on genetic material suggests an American background. The show is written to seem like any city, including one surrounded by suburbia with big box stores (where an employee had guns and other items to sell out of his trunk) and a community theater, which fortunately is not putting on a new production of Cats.

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On the surface Su-zakana was like a first season episode of Hannibal, with Jack, Will, and Hannibal working together to solve the  murder of the week. The three even started out the episode having dinner together, except with the Chesapeake Ripper supposedly out of commission, Hannibal served fish instead of red meat. I could even imagine yet another fish in the episode–Richard Fish of Ally McBeal saying “bygones.” When speaking around others, Hannibal explained overlooking Will’s attempts at killing him as being because of Will believing that Hannibal was a killer. This included telling Alana that Will was acting to protect her.

Under the surface, both Will and Hannibal knew that Hannibal really is the killer, and they were more honest when alone. Hannibal might have revealed his own code in saying, “Doing bad things to bad people makes you feel good.” If this is his motivation for killing, he is far less consistent in sticking to his code than Dexter Morgan was to sticking with his.

The murder of the week story was also a bizzaro recreation of the Will/Hannibal dynamic. Peter Bernardorne was a crazier version of Will who was  manipulated by Chris Diamantopoulos, playing a weaker version of Hannibal. We also saw that Will remains damaged, even if not as much as Peter, by Hannibal’s manipulations. Will even considered killing Chris as a substitute for Hannibal, until Hannibal warned him that it wouldn’t feel the same.

The episode also introduced Margot and Mason Verger, who should become more significant in future episodes.

The Man Under the Hood

On Arrow, Laurel has learned more about The Man Under The Hood but took the news far better than expected, deciding against letting Oliver know she knows his secret. That should be the subject for a future episode. The writers have often had difficulty in deciding what to do with her character, and in this episode she appeared far stronger than before. The producers had also been undecided as to whether to ultimately make Isabelle an ally or villain, deciding in last week’s episode that she would be a villain working with Slade. She appeared to be dead, but we learned that Mirakuru is as effective as alien blood on Agents of SHIELD at bringing people back from the dead. While we are not certain as to all the effects of the alien blood, we do know on Arrow that Mirakuru both gives superpowers and makes people go crazy. I wonder if Slade will regret creating an army of crazy super-villains who might be more difficult to control than herding cats.

We did learn that there is a cure to Mirakuru, which might turn out to be the way that the new army is ultimately defeated, and perhaps be used to keep Roy from going insane. The back story makes more sense in giving Slade additional motivation beyond the death of Shado to want to destroy Oliver. Back on the island, Oliver had chosen to kill rather than cure Slade. The episode also introduced characters from the upcoming Flash spin-off.

Collider spoke with producer/writer Andrew Kreisberg about Oliver’s relationship with Laurel and the ramifications of the Queens’ financial problems now that Isabelle has taken control of Queen Industries:

Where are Oliver and Laurel at now, romantically?

KREISBERG:  It’s Oliver and Laurel.  It’s Lois and Clark.  They can break up, get together, sleep together, break up, get married, get divorced, and she can forget him.  The best part about the success of the show is that it’s always our desire to speed through story.  The fans appreciate that.  We just blow through things.  We’re not like, “Well, we’ll do that in Season 4.”  No, we’ll just do that now.  On the other hand, success has enabled us to slow play some things.  We’ve really adopted this mantra of, “We’ll give people what they need, even if that’s not what they want.”  Having Oliver and Laurel get together in Season 1 is what people needed then.  But then, they needed them to go on a break, so Oliver could have his storyline with Sara for this season.  That’s what felt right to us.  Oliver has women in his life.  He has Laurel.  He has Felicity.  Helena is doing a 10 to 20 stretch.  But Laurel will always be one of the closest people to him, whether that’s romantic or not.  That’s why it’s so powerful to us that, in his darkest hour, Laurel is the one who pulls him out of it.  There has been a subset of fans who have questioned our sanity and our talent, for making some of the decisions we’ve made, over the course of last year and this year, but somebody is always going to be upset.  A lot of the things we have done have been leading up to what we’re doing in the finale, and then moving that forward to Season 3.

How long-running are the ramifications of the Queens’ financial problems?

KREISBERG:  We’re gonna make it a thing.  That plays out in the last five episodes.  We’re gonna start Season 3 with Oliver in very different circumstances than he’s been before.  Obviously, him being in different circumstances changes the circumstances of his paid bodyguard and paid assistant, since he can no longer pay them.  For Season 3, you’ll see that some of our familiar standing sets from Season 1 and 2, that you’ve come to know and love as being Arrow, are gonna be retired for reasons that will become apparent, as you see these last episodes.  We have already seen designs for some of the new sets for Season 3, which are amazing.  We want the show to feel like it’s constantly evolving, changing and growing.  If this year is the sequel, then next year is Arrow 3.  As different as 2 is from 1, in 3, they got Ewoks.

BRETT DALTON, BILL PAXTON

Providence continues the story of Agents of SHIELD after the infiltration by Hydra destroyed the organization, at least as we knew it. The have a secret base, Coulson learned that Director Fury is alive, and they are determined to remain Agents of SHIELD rather than Agents of Nothing. Last week there was a lot of speculation as to whether Ward had been brainwashed like the Winter Soldier or was faking allegiance to Garrett.  Anything is possible in this series, but the exchanges between Ward and Garrett suggest that Ward was recruited as a teenager and really has been working with Garrett from the start, with many of his actions designed to obtain trust from Coulson and his team. It appears that the only way that this could not be real would be if false memories were implanted into Ward, or if Ward spying on Garrett was intentionally withheld from Coulson. Such explanations would seem extremely contrived, and I hope that they just keep Ward the villain. Besides he is more interesting that way, although his feelings for Skye might complicate matters, especially as Ward’s allegiance so far seems more personal with Garrett as opposed to Hydra as an organization.

Besides the direct continuity in the recent episodes to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there is further continuity with the Marvel universe with the Hulk’s old enemy, Colonel Talbot. Next episode Amy Acker visits as Coulson’s cellist girlfriend.

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The Americans maintained its usual quality with New Car. Once again Elizabeth and Philip had to deal with questions as to who to kill, or allow to be killed, and hand child rearing problems. Unfortunately for Lucia, it turns out that Larrick was far more important to the Russian plans than she was.  Plus Elizabeth really hates Ronald Reagan. The big surprise of the episode was to see Vasili alive along with Anton in the Soviet Union.

Fargo was off to an excellent start. It does remind me a little of Breaking Bad with over the top events portrayed as plausible in an area where I would not want to live. You would have to combine both Martin Freeman’s Lester Nygaard and Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo to have a Walter White. While the premiere episode had a few murders, it looks like the series will be more about the consequences of the actions than a traditional detective series to uncover the identity of the murders.

I continue to avoid writing too much about Continnum as I’m a few weeks ahead of the American schedule by downloading from Showcase and I want to avoid any spoilers. The third episode, Minute To Win It, aired in the United States this week. The sequence taking place in the future revealed Kiera as being less blood thirsty than her superiors, but perfectly willing to ignore what they do. This week it was the future police shooting someone unnecessarily. Next week look forward to seeing Kiera’s take on a shooting which really has occurred in our history.

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Major Spoiler if you have not seen last week’s Game of Thrones: I make a point of not posting predictions about Game of Thrones as many people know far more than I do about the series if they have read the books. I would have never predicted that Joffrey would be killed off until late in the series. This should create a lot of interesting situations, ranging from speculation as to the murderer, effects on various characters, and a new fight for power. Natalie Dormer discussed the impact on Margaery in this interview. George R.R. Martin discussed the death here.

There is a little more news on the script being worked on for a Farscape movie which will follow the son of John and Aeryn.

Laura Pepon is only returning for four episodes of the second season of Orange Is The New Black but will return full time assuming there is a third season.

Aaron Sorkin only plans to write six episodes for the probable third and probable final season of The Newsroom. As he writes every episode of the series, I imagine it is better that he limit this to what he can handle if this leads to better scripts. HBO has not let the cast out of their contracts in case Sorkin decides to do more according to an interview with Olivia Munn.

The Hugo Award Nominees for 2014 are out. Doctor Who dominates the nominations for Dramatic Presentation (short form) with two episodes of the show, Adventures in Space and Time, a documentary about the origin of the television show, and The Five(ish) Doctors about the former Doctors who did not make it into the 50th Anniversary episode. An episode of Game of Thrones and Orphan Black complete the nominations in that category.

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM)

  • Frozen Screenplay by Jennifer Lee; Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Gravity Written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón; Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt; Directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
  • Iron Man 3 Screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black; Directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  • Pacific Rim Screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro; Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM)

  • An Adventure in Space and Time Written by Mark Gatiss; Directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC)
  • Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC)
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot Written & Directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss; Directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment)
  • Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” Written by Will Pascoe; Directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Arrow; The Flash; SHIELD; Sarah Connor; Homeland; Interstellar; James Bond; Binge Drinking; Binge Viewing; Santa Claus and Science

BBC America will air a farewell to Matt Smith at 8 pm on December 25 prior to airing The Time of the Doctor. Trailer above.  That means that for many US fans, this will air a few hours after downloading and viewing the Christmas episode.

Steven Moffat told Doctor Who Magazine (via Doctor Who TV) what he thinks the John Hurt Doctor was up to:

I assume what’s been happening during the John Hurt years that we never saw, is that he battled hard and fiercely in a way that the other Doctors would not have done, and that he was a dangerous and difficult man. But in his view he was not living up to the standards. I mean, by involving himself in an ongoing war – I always thought that sounded odd.

He adds: “I remember when David Tennant said, ‘I fought in the Time War’. I thought, ‘The Doctor in a war?’ I mean, the Doctor may be saving people at the fringes of a war, or stopping a war, but I could never imagine him being in one. But John Hurt’s Doctor is the one who was.”

He spoke with SFX about wrapping up mysteries:

Moffat told SFX magazine: “It will be tying up various elements of the Eleventh Doctor’s story, some of which people have asked about before, some of which people haven’t bothered to ask about!”

He adds: “From [Matt Smith's] first to his last episode, there will be elements. And it should be obvious they were fairly carefully planned.

“It’s not obstructive – if you didn’t remember any of that stuff or care about that stuff it would still be fine. If you’ve been sitting there saying, “Who blew up the TARDIS?” then you’ll get it.”

He has also discussed the female character from the Doctor’s past which will appear in Time of the Doctor.

More at Screen Rant and the BBC.

Wholock–Sherlock Meets the Doctor. Video above.

The BBC has released the synopsis for the third episode of season three of Sherlock, to air on January 12:

In the final episode of this new series, written by Steven Moffat, a case of stolen letters leads Sherlock Holmes into a long conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Napoleon of blackmail, and the one man he truly hates.

But how do you tackle a foe who knows the personal weakness of every person of importance in the Western world?

There are no plans for Lara Pulver to return to Sherlock but Natalie Dormer will be returning to fake Sherlock (CBS’s Elementary) to reprise her role as wrong-sex Moriarty when the show returns in January.

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Barry Allen was exposed to chemicals from beakers and lightening on the mid-season  finale of Arrow. We all know what beakers full of chemicals mixed with lightening will do–basic superhero science. I also liked how there is yet another major tie in to events back on the island. Executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Grant Gustin (who plays Barry/the Flash) discussed plans at BuddyTV. A portion:

Barry’s Profound Effect on Oliver and Felicity’s Relationship 
Andrew Kreisberg: I think for Oliver, he knows he feels something for her but can’t quite define it and I think he’s sort of surprised to find in [Episode 9] when Dig points out to him, “What you’re feeling right now might actually be termed jealousy.” And for Felicity, I think she doesn’t want to like Oliver in a way because she finds him unattainable and in a way he is unattainable. Especially after you saw at the end of Episode 6, when he said “It’s probably better if I’m not with somebody I care about.”
So while she really does like Barry, I think she probably throws [herself] even more into it because now he’s somebody who’s available. And Barry, being as smart as he is, because [as we allude to] is familiar with liking somebody who doesn’t like you back – which is something that will probably be explored further down the road – he sees that about her.
So I think at the end of this episode, and certainly as something we pick up in Episode 10 – because the fallout from Episode 9 carries over into the next episodes, as far as the Oliver and Felicity relationship is concerned – Barry has had a profound effect on them and that will carry through.
Flash’s Presence Will Be Felt on Arrow
Greg Berlanti: In the back half of the year, you definitely hear about what happened to [Barry] in the way that you’re hearing now about Star Labs and things like that – in the periphery and certainly in terms of Felicity since she has a connection with him.

The mid-season finale of Agents of SHIELD brought back old allies and enemies, but was yet another disappointing story. There are hints as to the significance of Coulson’s recovery which we should learn more about in the second half of the season, if anyone is still watching.

Emilia Clarke

Game of Thrones already has one Sarah Connor in the cast–Lena Headey who stared in  Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles plays Cersei Lannister. Emelia Clarke, (above without the albino look) who plays Daenerys Targaryen, will has been cast to play Sarah Connor in the planned reboot.

Morena Baccarin and Morgan Saylor, who play Brody’s wife and daughter on Homeland, will not be returning as regulars in season four, probably because there was not much use for either character in season 3.

Teaser above for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar above–to be released in November 2014.

A study in the British Medical Journal found that James Bond drinks too much alcohol:

James Bond’s level of alcohol intake puts him at high risk of multiple alcohol related diseases and an early death. The level of functioning as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical, mental, and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol. We advise an immediate referral for further assessment and treatment, a reduction in alcohol consumption to safe levels, and suspect that the famous catchphrase “shaken, not stirred” could be because of alcohol induced tremor affecting his hands.

Bing watching is common among Netflix subscribers.

It appears that the previously-discussed Friday Night Lights movie is not going to happen.

For today’s hard science section, we look at Scientifically Accurate Santa Claus:

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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: Star Trek Into Darkness; Doctor Who; Hannibal; Arrested Development; Game of Thrones; Sherlock and Fake Sherlock; Roaring ’20s Cocktails

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As I discussed last week, Star Trek Into Darkness was a enjoyable action movie which hopefully serves to keep Star Trek alive in some form, but does not live up to the quality of the show. The producers ignored plot development to deliver a series of action scenes, while using the gimmick of an alternative timeline to avoid the need for consistency. Major spoilers do follow. Startrek.com interviewed Star Trek Into Darkness co-writers and co-producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. One question dealt with the alternative timeline:

Zoe Saldana has been quoted in interviews as saying that the Uhura (Saldana)-Spock (Zachary Quinto) romance will not work in the long run because that’s not what ultimately happened inThe Original Series. Given the alternate timeline, can’t this relationship go anywhere? Can’t you do… anything, really, with any and all of the characters?

Roberto Orci talk about Star Trek Into Darkness

ORCI: If she says that, I think she’s wrong. We can do whatever we want. However, the rule that we have for ourselves is that it has to harmonize with canon. This is going to get way too geeky, and I apologize ahead of time… Quantum mechanics, which is how we based our time travel, is not just simple time travel. Leonard Nimoy didn’t just go back and change history (as Spock Prime in the 2009 film), and then everything is like Back to the Future. It’s using the rules of quantum mechanics, which means it’s an alternate universe where there is no going back. There is no fixing the timeline. There’s just another reality that is the latest and greatest of time travel that exist. So, on the one hand we’re free. On the other hand, these same rules of quantum mechanics tell us that the universes that exist, they exist because they are the most probable universe.

Star Trek actually dealt with alternative timelines in different ways. Frequently when something changed history, as in The City On The Edge of Forever, members of the Enterprise crew would go back in time and would fix the timeline. The mirror universe which featured in several episodes did continue on its own with major differences. In Parallels, Worf saw several parallel realities which varied in how different each was for his original reality. This came closest to the timelines of quantum mechanics which Orci discussed but the specific situation of one person changing history was more commonly treated as having a single timeline which can be changed and later repaired.

Now that we have the situation of Spock and Uhura having a romance, there is no reason it cannot continue despite this not occurring in the original timeline. The bigger question is why this romance ever could start at all. Saying the timeline has changed has been an easy way to keep what they want in Star Trek and change other things. We have a Spock who handles emotions differently, but it is not clear why that is the case. One of the advantages of a weekly television show over movies is that they could have episodes detailing how this Spock handles emotions as compared to the original Spock. The emotions and  humanity of Spock, Data, and the Voyager Holodeck Doctor were common themes of three of the series which would not work in the action movies.

My biggest fear in this new timeline is that nothing seems to have consequences and there are no limits. Vulcan was destroyed and now they are developing New Vulcan, as if an entire planet can be easily repopulated. If they have questions, future-Spock has the answers. There no real need for Starships as it is possible for Khan to transport himself from Earth to Kronos. If there are battles to be fought, the Entreprise is bigger than the one in the Roddenberry universe. If that isn’t enough, even bigger Starships can be built. Distance is not an issue in space as it takes no time to travel back from Kronsos to Earth, and Kirk has no difficulty communicating with Scotty from light years away. Kirk dies and is quickly brought back to life with blood from Khan, and there is a tremendous supply remaining with Khan and the others who are frozen. Theoretically there is  no limit to a cure synthesized from Khan’s blood. The television shows certainly took liberties with what is scientifically possible, and would show abilities in some episodes which were forgotten when they might have been used again, but not as flagrantly as this movie.

If they were not content with a series of action scenes they might have placed some limits to keep this and future stories more plausible. Perhaps the curative powers of the blood are not present immediately upon awakening from suspended animation, which would also explain why Khan needed to be captured as opposed to awakening another. We could also imagine the Federation, which has always had lots of restrictions (primarily to promote drama and limit easy solutions), banning the awakening of Khan and the others. Unfortunately such explanations would results in breaks in the action which would not be consistent with the all-action type of movie being produced, but which made the television shows far better.

Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci discussed the various Easter eggs placed in Star Trek Into Darkness in this interview.

Bob: The biggest addition was Benedict Cumberbatch. He was so compelling on the set that the other actors brought extra energy and extra attention to their roles. He was a force of nature. In terms of his character, we wanted to make sure that the audience did not need any previous knowledge to understand him. So the big debate was: should he or shouldn’t he be Khan?

Alex: We agreed he can be Khan as long as the audience doesn’t have to know that back story. Our challenge was to define a story that doesn’t rely on previous knowledge, or love of Khan or “Star Trek 2.” We thought if we can do that, then we can think of using that great character Khan.

Bob: Once we had that standalone story, we wondered: are there details from Khan’s history that fit? We returned to our Easter eggs at the back of the fridge: there were those seventy-two torpedoes that happened to house his crew. If we can use the details of Khan’s back story given our structure to make the movie more specific and more relevant, then that works.

Alex: We couldn’t use Khan just as a gimmick, as an excuse to get fans into the theaters. Once we developed the story, suddenly the details of Khan’s life became an even better way to tell it. Only when we decided that Khan really does fit here – and the fans know that Khan is to the series what The Joker is to “Batman” – that’s when we decided we earned it.

Bob: And that’s when we went for it. Khan is the ultimate Easter egg.

I saw them more as dropping a few lines to tie the movie into Star Trek’s past without really trying to do what made Star Trek great. Khan is hardly to the series what The Joker is to Batman. Khan appeared in exactly one episode of the original series and one movie. Plus each of these did a far better job of presenting Khan as a person with motives.

Cumberbatch Shower

While Star Trek fans might be concerned about the types of issues I raised, the media has paid more attention to controversy over the scene with Alice Eve in her underwear which I posted last week. In interviews, Alice Eve didn’t seem terribly concerned. After all, as Seth MacFarlane would put it, we saw her boobs in movies such as Crossing Over (pictures not safe for work). Putting aside the arguments of sexism, tamer scenes such as in Star Trek Into Darkness have been common throughout the history of Star Trek from Kirk’s conquests in the original show, Seven of Nine’s “Borg enhancements” on Voyager, and those scenes of T’Pol in the Decon Chamber on Enterprise. Hoshi Sato also had difficulty keeping her clothes intact on Enterprise. Scenes of sexual exploitation aren’t all one-sided. Kirk was seen with his shirt off and  J.J. Abrams showed a cut  scene had been filmed with Benedict Cumberbatch in the shower while on Conan.

Steven Moffat shows far more attention to plotting than in the new version of Star Trek. He will show little things in many episodes of Doctor Who which don’t become important to a later date. Unfortunately he also leaves some questions unanswered. Some of these questions actually do have answers but wind up on the cutting room floor. One of many questions from The Name of the Doctor is how Clarence came about the information which saved his life and directed his friends towards Trenazlore. This is explained in the deleted scene above.

Hannibal Family Dinner

I had previously called The Americans the best new show of the season, but must revise that view after watching the first several episodes of Hannibal. Here are seven reasons you should be watching.  Bryan Fuller was interviewed about the show he created based upon novels by Thomas Harris:

I want to ask about the level of gore and violence on Hannibal. Let’s start at the beginning when you first starting thinking about the show. How did you figure out its tone?

Bryan Fuller: What was always interesting about Thomas Harris’ books is they were a wonderful hybridization of a crime thriller and a horror movie. So I felt like we had to be true to that. Because Silence of the Lambs and Manhunter and Red Dragon have a certain pedigree of crime horror/thriller, in order to be true to that genre, we had to have a certain amount of graphic content to honor the source material, and also honor the expectations of the audience who are approaching the material realizing this is a horror icon. If we didn’t have certain ingredients for that dish, then it really wouldn’t be that dish.

What did you think were the keys there?

BF: Well, what was always fascinating with the villains of Thomas Harris’ books is they have this purple, operatic quality to them. They were also strikingly visual and cinematic. I think it was always our goal to honor the source material, because as a fan of the Thomas Harris books — I read Red Dragon in high school — I wanted to make sure that the loyalist in me and the loyalists out there were being delivered what they were being promised in calling the show Hannibal.

Fuller was later asked about network restrictions:

In terms of how you decided how to show the dead bodies in the pilot, was NBC fine with it? Did it get edited at all?

BF: The only restrictions were mostly nudity. Then other things would be a matter of frames and trimming: a concise method of delivering the imagery that didn’t rely on overt gore. There were times that were like, “OK, you can see the intestines, and you can see the abdominal wound, but you can’t see the intestines coming out of the abdominal wound.” Which, to me, felt perfectly reasonable! There were never any huge battles about gore. The conversations that we had were very much about, “These few frames here tip it, so can you remove those shots?” Or “Can you limit that shot?” They let us go a good distance at having striking visual imagery that wasn’t exploitive porn violence but actually had a great psychological impact to them.

Other than for the absence of nudity, Hannibal does feel much more like a cable show than a network television show. It does follow the pattern used successfully by many other shows in both having a continuing storyline and having each episode deal with a monster/crime of the week. Fuller begins with characters from Thomas Harris’s book  Red Dragon, making significant changes in some of the characters for the television series.  Besides Hannibal, the other major figure is Will Graham, who has the ability to see crimes from the killer’s point of view. So far they have used this to provide information to propel episodes without giving away too much to make investigation unnecessary.

Fuller has planned stories taking place over seven thirteen-episode seasons, taking Hannibal from a psychiatrist who is helping solve murders (while commuting some of his own) to the incarcerated mad genius of Silence of the Lambs. It is questionable if the show can last for seven years on network television, and Fuller’s track record is not very good in terms of getting his series renewed.  The show is receiving excellent reviews from the critics but not spectacular ratings. If NBC decides not to renew the show, both cable channels and Amazon have expressed interest in continuing it. Amazon has already purchased exclusive rights to reshow first season episodes. They might find it beneficial to add new episodes to those of the first season, as Netflix is doing with Arrested Development.

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Netflix just released fifteen new episodes of Arrested Development. It has been seven years since the third season ended (with many of us watching a little more recently on DVD, and others even more recently on Netflix). Den of Geek brings us up to date on the story lines. Popwatch recommended five episodes to rewatch to prepare for the new episodes.  Watch With Kristen tells us a little bit about what we will be seeing. More interviews here and here.

Game of Thrones producer Frank Doelger is also looking at a seven year series:

Speaking backstage at the Baftas – where Game of Thrones was also nominated in the International category – Doelger said: “[The number of series] is being discussed as we speak. The third season was the first half of book three, season four will be the second part of book three. George RR Martin has written books four and five; six and seven are pending.

“I would hope that, if we all survive, and if the audience stays with us we’ll probably get through to seven seasons.”

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The second episode of season three of Sherlock. The Sign of Three, has completed filming:

Filming has completed today on the second block of Sherlock filming – largely comprising Sherlock S3E2: The Sign of Three – after four weeks of work which began on Monday April 22 2013. The second episode of the third series is written by Stephen Thompson and directed by Colm McCarthy.

Filming of The Sign of Three has taken place in cities in England and Wales familiar to the Sherlock production team, including an extensive period of work in Bristol at the beginning of the schedule. London also once again paid host to the series towards the end of the shoot, while filming itself wrapped on stage in Cardiff just before 20:00BST this evening.

Additional material for S3E1: The Empty Hearse was also shot during the latter stages of this second block of filming, under the direction of Jeremy Lovering.

Production on Sherlock Series Three will now take a scheduled break, to allow cast and crew to fulfil other long planned obligations.

Cast and crew are due to fully reconvene in late July 2013 for filming on the third episode of the series, written by Steven Moffat.

I included the full text of the post primarily to give the feeling of how much time and effort goes into each episode of Sherlock, as compared to an American network television series. I stopped watching CBS’s Fake Sherlock series early in the season, feeling that Elementary, as they call it, was simply an average network crime of the week series which applied the names of Holmes and Watson. After reading that Natalie Dormer would be playing Irene Adler and the final episodes would include Moriarty I decided to watch the last few episodes of the season. The back story, for those who have not been watching, is that Sherlock Holmes fell in love with Irene Adler, who was apparently captured and killed by Moriarty. Sherlock got hooked on drugs. He received treatment, moved to New York where he was quickly trusted by the NYPD, and a female version of Watson became his caregiver. Over the course of the season it appears that Watson moved on to become a detective as opposed to caregiver, and Moriarty was behind some of the criminals they apprehended.

The final episodes of the season dealt with Moriarty having Sherlock work on a case, with information to be provided in return. This led to Sherlock finding Irene Adler alive, and their story was told in flashbacks. There were more twists involving Moriarty but I will not spoil those in case others decide to watch these now that most network shows have concluded. The twist would not be acceptable if this was a more definitive retelling of the Sherlock Holmes stories in modern times, as with the BBC version, but for a series which is only loosely based upon Sherlock Holmes this provided an interesting new story. Needless to say, the quality was what we would expect from most network television shows (not up to that of Hannibal) and far below that of Sherlock.

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This sign should keep trespassers out.

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And finally, in honor of the release of a new movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby, E! has recipes for ten top roaring ’20s cocktails.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Star Trek Into Darkness; Revolution; Superman; Thor; Captain America; Elementary; Sherlock; New SciFi Series; The Newsroom; Veronica Mars

Doctor Who Ice Warriors

Doctor Who brought us to the Cold War and the return, after forty years of the Ice Warriors. The episode provided a good, suspenseful submarine/Aliens drama until the problems got wrapped up too easily. At least this time the Doctor didn’t solve everything with the Sonic Screwdriver alone. He also gave a speech like many that James T. Kirk used to convince aliens to play nice on Star Trek. The cold war backdrop and idea of mutually assured destruction did provide a good backdrop for the discussions with Grand Marshall Skaldac over whether he would destroy the earth. (Spoiler: Earth was spared.) Professor Grisenko provided a second surrogate Doctor.

Mark Gatiss showed us what is inside of the Ice Warrior’s suit and solved the perpetual problem which is present in many episodes of why the Doctor doesn’t use the TARDIS during a crisis to overcome a problem. There was some mumbo jumbo about the TARDIS’s Hostile Action Displacement System (not seen since the Patrick Troughton) has been reactivated to take the TARDIS elsewhere to remain safe. This raises two other problems. How does the TARDIS’s translation matrix continue to work after the TARDIS is gone and  how does the Doctor get to the South Pole, where the TARDIS rematerialized? Will there be reference to their adventures getting to the South Pole next week?  (I’m still wondering how Amy and Rory got back to earth after the Doctor left them behind at the end of A Good Man Goes to War.)

There were no clear clues to the Clara mystery but one exchange might be significant. When faced with the threat of World War III being set off Clara pointed out, “The world didn’t end in 1983, or I wouldn’t be here?” The Doctor responded, “History’s in flux, it can be unwritten.” Does that apply to the fate of the girl who died twice?

This week’s behind the scene video is available here.

Jenna-Louise Coleman had some hints on the Clara mystery in an interview with TV Guide:

In a way, Clara is connected with the 50th anniversary. We saw in the Christmas episode that her birthday is Nov. 23, the same date that Doctor Who first aired.
Coleman:
  In the Christmas episode, I didn’t know why that was the case. But again, we will find out by the end of this series. But it’s really exciting — [the season finale] is phenomenal.  My spine was tingling when I read it. Again, I’m teasing your so badly here, but there’s the beginning opening sequence, which [is]  kind of building up into the 50th. It’s just huge.

She also discussed her relationship with the TARDIS:

You get to pilot that TARDIS in one episode. What does driving it entail?

Coleman: There’s a certain part of the TARDIS you go to, that liftoff thing. But you know, the TARDIS and Clara have a relationship. Actually I don’t think we’ve talked about this in interviews before. It’s something that’s running through the series. Instead of it being like, “Does so-and-so like Clara?” The TARDIS and Clara have a bit of a face-off. So, the Doctor is obviously bringing back somebody new. I think we’ve done a whole additional content scene of me talking to the TARDIS, and the TARDIS is making fun of Clara. They kind of have an argument. They’ve got a relationship individual to the Doctor where they have a dialogue.

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Doctor Who is filming the 50th Anniversary episode in Trafalgar Square as pictured above. Another cast member  has been announced:

Jemma Redgrave will be returning to Doctor Who for the show’s fiftieth anniversary special. She previously appeared in 2012’s The Power of Three playing Kate Stewart, daughter of the legendary Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

Jemma is part of a brilliant cast that is already known to include Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman who are joined by the returning David Tennant and Billie Piper plus screen legend John Hurt and Joanna Page. Filming is underway on the special which will be a 3D spectacular shown later this year.

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There’s a new poster for Star Trek Into Darkness and a new trailer will be out on Tuesday. There are still rumors that, while named John Harrison, Benedict Cumberbatch’s character will turn out to be Khan. Cumberbatch won’t respond to the rumors saying, “Umm, I play a character called John Harrison. I can’t say more.” Some fans who believe this will be a re-imagining of the Khan story are upset since the change in the timeline in the first J.J. Abram’s Star Trek movie wouldn’t account for a different version of the Khan story. Of course the same might be argued about many other changes from the Roddenberry universe.

On last week’s Revolution, after lots of hype, Juliet finally told Google Guy what was going on. Something about how they all died on the island and are in purgatory, with no explanation of the flash forward. Actually there was something about viruses which only eat electricity and reproduce, sort of like Tribbles. I’m not very hopeful about the show, seeing it take a trajectory closer to that of FlashForward than Lost.  I do wonder what type of genre show Elizabeth Mitchell will be in next and what type of doctor or scientist she will play.

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Man of Steel is featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, along with mention of other genre (and non-genre) movies:

This week’s cover story reveals how the new film (out June 14) attempts to humanize the superhuman by finding new flaws and vulnerabilities. The most common one, however, was off the table: “I’ll be honest with you, there’s no Kryptonite in the movie,” says director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) Those glowing green space rocks – Superman’s only crippling weakness – have turned up so often as a plot point in movies, the only fresh option was not to use it. Anyway, if you want to make an audience relate to a character, a galactic allergy isn’t the way to do it.

Henry Cavill (Immortals), the latest star to wear the red cape, instead plays a Superman who isn’t fully comfortable with that god-like title. This film reveals that even on Krypton, young Kal-El was a special child, whose birth was cause for alarm on his home planet. (More on that in the magazine) And once on Earth, his adoptive parents, Ma and Pa Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), urge him not to use his immense strength – even in dire emergencies — warning that not every human would be as accepting of him as they are. So Clark Kent grows up feeling isolated, longing for a connection to others, and constantly hiding who he is. As a result, Man of Steel presents the frustrated Superman, the angry Superman, the lost Superman. “Although he is not susceptible to the frailties of mankind, he is definitely susceptible to the emotional frailties,” Cavill says.

That’s just the set-up. Once the Kryptonian villain General Zod (Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon) arrives to threaten the Earth, eventually the passionate Superman steps forward, too. It helps that he has a reason to care about the home he’s defending, and we can all thank Amy Adams’ Lois Lane for that. “I think she’s very transient. She’s ready to pick up and go at a moment’s notice,” Adams says of the hard-bitten journalist. “I think that definitely could be part of what she sees in Superman — not really laying down roots, not developing trust.”

Iron Man 3 will include a trailer for Thor: The Dark World. Screenrant has some information on Thor 2 along with Captain America 2.

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I gave up on watching Elementary earlier this season but might return to it after reading that Natalie Dormer of The Tudors and Game of Thrones will be playing Irene Adler in a three episode arc which begins May 9. It will be interesting to see how she compares to Lara Pulver’s (often nude) portrayal of her in Sherlock. Dormer has shown in The Tudors that she would have no qualms in topping Adler’s scenes if allowed on broadcast television. Henry Cavill, who is staring in Superman, also had a major role on The Tudors.

It was previously announced that the first episode of season 3 of Sherlock will be entitled The Empty Hearse. It has now been announced that the second episode will be entitled The Sign of Three.

Syfy has seven new series being considered, some of which are hard science fiction. These are in addition to Ron Moore’s upcoming series about a disease outbreak entitled Helix.

Orion
The space opera centers on Orion, an adventurous female relic hunter who tracks down valuable artifacts while trying to piece together her past. Set amid an intergalactic war pitting humans against a terrifying alien race, Orion must decide whether to use her abilities to save herself or commit to the cause and unearth long hidden artifacts that could free all of humanity from a horrible fate. Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes Burton (Alphas) will write and executive produce, with George Krstic and Ryuhei Kitamura on board as co-executive producers. F.J. Desanto will serve as a supervising producer on the UCP project.

Sojourn
The first detective ever in space is tasked with investigating a murder on a starship — headed to colonize another planet –­ and instead becomes embroiled in a vast conspiracy involving a mysterious terrible crime dating back to the original launch of the ship 50 years ago. Phil Levens (Smallville) will write, with Blum (Paranormal Activity) on board to produce the Lionsgate entry.

Clandestine
After a clan of bandits are nearly destroyed and left for dead by Coalition forces, they take refuge in the nearest safe haven, a derelict Coalition starship floating in space. Once onboard, they masquerade as Coalition officers while continuing their criminal ways ­– until they stumble upon a shocking realization about the true nature of the Coalition. Todd Stashwick and Dennis Calero will write, with Hurd (The Walking Dead) and John Shiban (Hell on Wheels) attached to executive produce the UCP project.

Infinity
When an alien armada is sighted in the region of Pluto, the Earth government turns to a young billionaire industrialist — who has the only ship ready for interstellar travel — to greet the aliens and avoid a catastrophe. Powered by secret alien technology discovered on Earth in the 1960s, the ship engages in a firefight that sends them spinning through a wormhole into an uncharted region of space. Lost in the universe, the team struggles to survive as they encounter new planets and alien species, searching for a way back home. Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) will write the Berman/Braun produced entry from Universal Television.

Silver Shields
When his father is slain by assassins connected to the government of the large nearby city of Pont Royal, farm boy Caymer journeys there to continue his father’s legacy as a member of the local police force — and to solve the mystery of his father¹s death. He discovers that his simple country view on life is at odds with the big city, filled with orcs and other magical creatures. Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Alphas) will write and executive produce the UCP effort alongside producer Aaron Kaplan.

Shelter  
A massive meteorite is headed toward Earth, forcing 30,000 hand-picked humans to live underground in a government-funded shelter in order to start a new society. What begins as a Utopia quickly succumbs to the old human faults and jealousies as certain members of society create alliances to gain favor and power. Meanwhile, things on the surface are not what they seem. Humans slowly realize that this event may have been fated and the survivors meant for a greater purpose in rebooting life on Earth. Bruce Joel Rubin (Deep Impact) will write and executive produce the UCP project with writer/co-executive producer/writer Ari Rubin.

Dominion (working title, formerly known as Legion)
The effort, based on the feature film Legion produced by Bold Films, is set 20 years after evil angels have descended from heaven to lay waste to the human souls they felt God had favored over them. A reluctant “savior” must arise to protect Vega, the last remaining stronghold of humanity. The savior has more to fear than just angels, as the elites of this new society conspire to gain power for themselves. Vaun Wilmott (Sons ofAnarchy) will write and co-executive the Sony Pictures TV project, with ScottStewart (Defiance) attached to direct and executive produce. David Lancaster will EP as well.

The reboot of Blake’s 7 has also been received a thirteen episode order. I’m surprised that it has taken this long to bring this classic back. A reboot does make more sense than continuing the original but I would have loved to see how they might have managed to continue after the events of the original show’s finale.

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Yvonne Strahovski will be reprising her role as Hannah McKay on the final season of Dexter. We can expect lots of flowers and murder.

HBO has announced that Aaron Sorkin’s show The Newsroom will return on July 14.

Last month I mentioned contributing to the Kickstart campaign to finance a Veronica Mars movie. They wound up raising 5.7 million. The bulk of this came from people other than myself.

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SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Natalie Dormer on Game of Thrones; Annie in the Community Dreamatorium

It has become a tradition for the nineteenth episode of Fringe to break from the usual narrative, but this one could be a real game changer. Letters of Transit takes place in a future in which the Observers have taken over, the Fringe division officially exists to police the natives, and some Fringe agents are secretly involved in a rebellion. The episode raises questions as to whether this is the direction Fringe is moving in or if this is just one of many possible futures.Have the Observers been actually working to set this up, or maybe was this a previously unintended response to their meddling. The ending raises a number of  more specific questions. Where was Olivia? Presumably she had died previously per the previous warnings. Why was William Bell, who we have been led to believe was also dead in the changed timeline, also in the Amber and exactly why did Walter respond to him as he did? We previously learned of the negative consequences of Peter and Altlivia having a child. What about the daughter? Presumably Etta is resistant to mind reading by the Observers due to inherited abilities from her mother. It was a fantastic  episode to watch, and could be enjoyed by those who are not following the series regularly, but it remains to be seen as to how it fits into the series.

Many more pictures from Doctor Who in New York are on line, along with spoilers as to what occurs. There have been rumors that Rory is sent back in time by the Weeping Angels and is not found until he is an old man, and we see him die. Does Amy go back to be with him? There have been reports of the Doctor yelling at someone not to do something while filming. The cast has returned to Cardiff where the location of the filming might be related to these rumors:

John Barrowman wants a Doctor Who musical and to return to the series.

Doctor Who and Sherlock have inspired a lot of fan art. A couple examples are above and far more are posted here.

TV Guide interviewed Natalie Dormer about her role as Margaery on Game of Thrones:

You’re best known in the U.S. as Ann Boleyn on The Tudors. You’ve become quite the go-to girl for period drama on cable!
Natalie Dormer: [Laughs] My range does exchange beyond that. But I hear it’s a commonality to jump between HBO and Showtime and vice versa, so I take it as a compliment really.

How would you describe your character Margaery?
Dormer: She’s very genuine, she’s old beyond her age. Through her family, she’s always been educated and trained to be a political operator and play the cards for her family the best that she can for their ambition. There are comparisons you could make with my experience playing Ann Boleyn in that regard. The big difference between playing Margaery and the machinations and politics of court in playing Ann Boleyn is that Margaery a lot more of a genuine, sincere, straight-playing woman. As compared to Cersei, there’s quite a Machiavellian element to her. Margaery has a pure heart. She’s trying to do the best she can for her brother, for her house and for the good of the people, what she thinks is best for the realm.

The same is true for Loras, the Knight of Flowers, that sort of optimistic, liberal feel from the South. Michelle Fairley as Catelyn says “They’re the Knights of Summer, and winter is coming.” She feels sorry for them because they do come from a more positive, liberal attitude, environment and culture as they do in King’s Landing. I think it’ll be very interesting when the cultures collide.

In the last episode, you have a scene where you have to try to seduce your husband Renly…
Dormer: That was the first scene I shot. I was having a good laugh with the creators of the show, David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], that it was a nice initiation to Game of Thrones. It was a bit cruel that they had to schedule it that way, but they denied all knowledge of the scheduling. I hadn’t met Gethin Anthony before, and obviously his being a veteran from the last season, he was very generous, very welcoming. The family spirit on the show is quite amazing considering the sheer number of cast [members]… You’re a new character, and there are lots of new characters for the second season. There’s this ethos on the show that starts with David and Dan and it works its way down. I was made to feel very welcome immediately, which was much appreciated on quite a delicate scene to begin with.

What can you tell us about a scene you have with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in the upcoming Sunday’s episode?
Dormer: I knew Aidan before joining Thrones and I think he’s an absolutely incredible actor. His creation of Littlefinger is exciting and impressive. It’s a testament to Aidan’s skill as an actor that he has managed to create this fascinating character that viewers just adore to watch how he operates. I was very excited to begin Margaery’s relationship with Littlefinger because even though she is a woman and even though she is so very young, because of the way she was brought up and the world she comes from, she’s an old spirit. Littlefinger would make a mistake in underestimating such a young, innocent woman in the game of thrones. So it was very interesting to raise my bar as an actress to play opposite an actor such as Aidan the way Margaery knows she’s going to have to raise her skills and her bar in being able to interact with Littlefinger. Maybe there’s a little bit of life imitating art there.

Were you familiar with the books and Margaery before auditioning for the part?
Dormer: I wasn’t familiar with the books… I think every actor on the show makes the decision whether to [read them] or not. Even though the first season was incredibly accurate to the book, there’s the suggestion that in the future, because of the enormity of the scope of the books and the characters we already have in place on the show, that it might not be easy to be 100 percent so faithful to the books in the future. Not necessarily in the character story lines but in what we’re able to see. I had the advantage of not really knowing who Margaery was previous to going in, so I did my interpretation on how the creators saw her…

Did the costumers want you to be cold as possible? That neckline plunged to your navel!
Dormer: Oh man, yes, absolutely. It was freezing. It’s a shame. I think it was on the back of your Hurricane Irene or something, but the tail end of it came across The Atlantic and it hit the north coast of Ireland so hard. It was scheduled to happen earlier in the month when it was slightly sunnier, but because of problems with the weather, we had pushed shooting that scene. So it was really probably about fall by the time we shot it. In an ideal world, we should have been where Emilia [Clarke, who plays Daenerys] was in Croatia. That tournament scene was just unfortunate. From my experience of shooting Tudors on the island of Ireland, you cannot predict the weather. I had a lot of costume girls running over to me with hot water bottles and blankets. They were very dutiful and took great care of me.

What would best represent you on your own personal sigil?
Dormer: It’s funny you should say that because I could answer that straightaway. It’s a twist of fate. When I was a little girl, my grandfather who I was very close to used to grow yellow roses. He had yellow roses growing all the way up his drive. I remember watching him [raise] them when I was a little girl. I always used to joke when I was playing Ann Boleyn — the Tudor roses are white and red because they’re the amalgamation of the two houses during the civil war in England — I used to say, “The roses are in my life because of The Tudors, but I love yellow roses.” And it was just a twist of fate that the Tyrell’s sigil is the yellow rose. I took it as a sign at the time that I was destined to play Margaery because I’ve always had a thing for yellow roses. Now I actually have one as a sigil. It was a twist of fate.

If you sat on the Iron Throne, what would be your first edict?
Dormer: Worldwide emancipation for women, equality for the sexes in all areas.

On Community, Annie entered the Dreamatorium with Abed and became Temporary Constable Geneva to Inspector Spacetime. Video clip above.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who in New York and Karen Gillan on Twitter; Awake; Fringe; Sin City; Loopers; Natalie Dormer and Nudity On Game of Thrones; Maggie Smith Leaving Downton Abbey

Doctor Who has been filming in New York City this week, including the Doctor running through Central Park (video above).

Karen Gillan got on Twitter last week. When I found about it two hours after she began on Thursday she already had over 27,000 followers and now has over 70,000. According to tweets by Arthur Darvill, Karen failed to adjust her email settings, burning out her phone battery with notifications of all the new followers. Today Karen tweeted a picture with Brent Spinner and below is a picture of her tweeting with Arthur Darvill looking on.

Karen Gillan Arthur Darvill Tweeting

This week Awake failed to move further away from the police procedural as they did with last week’s penguins and other scenes questioning reality, but Ricky’s Taco’s did have its moment. While not as well done as last week’s That’s Not My Penguin, the voice at Ricky’s Tacos was more difficult to explain as Britten hadn’t been drugged before hearing them. Was this just something thrown into the story, is Britten going crazy and hearing things, or are there outside forces at  work and communicating with him? The conspiracy which set up the accident has been disliked by fans writing about the show. I don’t mind if they have a subplot involving this, but not if it is just a random scene thrown into an episode as we’ve seen so far. It is interesting that Captain Harper tried to call off the hit on Britten after he resigned with plans to move away to Oregon.

The final episode of Titanic airs tonight, with ABC catching up the United States audience last night. While she did appear in the first two episodes, the third concentrates far more on Jenna-Louise Coleman’s character.

On Fringe Family Man showed that, like our Walter, alt-Broyles was willing to go to great lengths to try to save his son. Before the change in the time lines his character was killed, and in the new time line he winds up in prison. At least he didn’t go through with the plot by David Robert Jones which might have collapsed both universes. I can’t help but wonder what Jones thinks would happen to him if he succeeded. Next week appears to be another Observer episode, this time in the future.

A sequel (or perhaps prequel) to Sin City is finally going ahead with casting now underway. Above are pictures of Jessica Alba and Alexis Bledel from the original.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xlS7ktUI5Iw

Here is a trailer of a Loopers, an upcoming science fiction movie with an interesting premise:

In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented — but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a looper — a hired gun, like Joe — is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good… until the day the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self for assassination.

It doesn’t have the potential for a time paradox like going back in time to kill your own self or grand parent–unless Joe’s future self responds to the situation by trying to kill the person trying to kill him (his past self). Could be good, unless it is simply a chase/action movie with a science fiction back story.

Natalie Dormer, who often appeared nude on The Tudors, joins the rampant nudity on Game of Thrones starting tonight. She has certainly demonstrated that she can handle such a role well. But why is there so much nudity on Game of Thrones? Check out this video for an explanation from Saturday Night Live. HBO announced last week that Game of Thrones has been renewed for a third season and I think it is safe to predict it will be around for several years considering the success of the show and the amount of material present in the book series.

Maggie Smith, the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey, has requested to leave the show after the third season so she can return to movies and the stage. There had already been talk of a funeral for next season and assuming that was written before Smith’s request this might mean a second. Her death would be the most plausible way to write her out of the series.

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SciFi Weekend: Newt Gingrich, President of the Moon; Top Sci-Fi Moments on Letterman; Moffat on the Doctor Meeting Someone New; Bob Orci Tweeting Star Trek Pics; Natalie Dormer Joins Game of Thrones; Doc Soto’s Tour of Alcatraz

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JfUHIowew7E

Saturday Night Live opened with science fiction last night, showing Newt Gingrich as president of the moon. Science Fiction isn’t limited to SNL. Blastr presents 18 awesome sci-fi moments from The Late Show with David Letterman.

Some teasers from Steven Moffat about the future of Doctor Who:

Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary is coming. In Cardiff, we’re gearing up for the biggest, the best and the most ambitious season we’ve ever made. There will be shocks, surprises and heartbreak – the Doctor is about to say goodbye to his very best friends, Amy and Rory.

And then he’s about to say hello to someone very different – the Doctor is going to meet someone very new in the very last place he could ever have expected…

Blogator Who has clips of John Barrowman on The One Show. No news about Torchwood except that Barrowman wants to return as Captain Jack when Russel T Davies is ready to bring back Torchwood.

Bob Orci has been tweeting behind the scene pictures during the filming of Star Trek.

I see from the commercial airing during the Super  Bowl as I write this that Disney has Disneyized John Carter of Mars. The Martian princesses in the original Edgar Rice Edgar Rice Burroughs novels were generally near naked.

Natalie Dormer, who showed during The Tudors that she had no problem with appearing nude,  was interviewed about her upcoming role in The Game of Thrones:

With “Game of Thrones,” you’ve signed on to the biggest craze in the States, I think, probably around the world.

Well, again, all I can say is “Thrones” is just like “The Fades,” in so far as the quality is just there in the script, immediately, before you’ve done anything. When you’re just sitting down reading it, the quality just glares at you from the page.

And I kind of kept away from the show when I was taking the meetings. I wasn’t acquainted with the show before I went in to meet the delightful Mr. [David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss [exec producers].

And I’m kind of glad I didn’t, actually, because I think I would have been scared off [laughs], because it was so awesome when I watched it.

And I’m really, really proud to be a part of the “Thrones” family now. I just finished second series before Christmas and I’ll be doing third series in the summer. And I think, again, it’s really bravely written. It’s got a phenomenal cast, and, yeah, it’s a great privilege to be a part of the gang, and it’s a big gang…

Tell me about your character, Margaery Tyrell, as much as you can say. It’s kind of weird, because saying anything, almost like with Sarah, saying anything is sort of a spoiler I think.

Yeah. Well, to be perfectly honest, I would have to agree with you there. So maybe I’ll ease off on that. [Laughs.] It’s really interesting, because both shows have this amazing cult following, you know? … It’s kind of intriguing to be opened up to the sci-fi, super horror or fantasy communities and seeing just how dedicated they are. I’ve never come across fans, like cult fans to these cult shows. They’re just so supportive and they’re so dedicated. And, as an actor, you really feel supported and you want to really push yourself, because there’s just so much enthusiasm.

I heard you’re a good fencer and I was wondering if Margaery is ever going to take up a sword.

Oh, well, you know [laughs], I have a few seasons in me. You never know what’s going to happen. [Laughs.] But Loras, the Knight of Flowers, my brother, is meant to be the greatest night throughout the Seven Kingdoms, so maybe she picked up a little bit, who knows? [Laughs.] We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?

Give us a tease, a non-spoilery tease about Season 2, even if it’s just from your experience and what you saw.

Oh, a tease. [Laughs.] It’s war. It’s war and it’s serious. It’s the same with “The Fades,” the battle is on, life and death. The battle is coming, so it’s serious now. [Laughs.]

And you’re looking forward to more seasons, right?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Margaery really comes into her own in series [seasons] 3 and 4.

Doc Soto provided a tour of Alcatraz. He doesn’t explain how all those prisoners disappeared.

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SciFi Weekend: Two Weeks Until Torchwood: Miracle Day; True Blood and Weeds Return This Week; Game of Thrones

Starz has released the following synopses of the first seven of ten episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Episodes air one day later, on Saturdays, in Canada. There is no official word yet regarding airing in the U.K. but one site has stated that there is a one hour gap on their schedule for July 9th, leading them to suspect that this is when it will start.

1. The New World8th July 10:00pm

When death itself comes to a halt, the whole world faces its greatest danger yet. CIA agent Rex Matheson has only one clue – Torchwood.

2. Rendition15th July, 10:00pm

As the Torchwood team is reunited, Jack realizes he’s the most vulnerable man on Earth. A flight to the United States turns into a desperate battle for survival.

3. Dead of Night22nd July, 10:00pm

Torchwood goes on the run and finds a new enemy, but as they launch a raid on PhiCorp headquarters, Jack must confront the mysterious Oswald Danes.

4. Escape to L.A.29th July 2011

The fight against PhiCorp takes the Torchwood team to California, where a trap is waiting. Meanwhile, Oswald and Jilly find themselves with an enemy of their own.

5. The Categories Of Life5th August, 10:00pm

Torchwood goes undercover and discovers the terrible truth behind the Miracle. The enemy is closing in, and death is about to make a shocking return.

6. The Middle Men12th August, 10:00pm

With Gwen, Rex and Esther trapped on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s a race against time as Jack goes straight to the heart of the conspiracy.

7. Immortal Sins19th August 2011, 10:00pm
Gwen must fight to protect her family and takes a terrifying journey, covering both miles and decades, as the long history of the Miracle is revealed.

Remaining episodes: End Of The Road, The Gathering and The Blood Line.

Starz has posted this behind the scenes preview of the series:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcYA2s-Gqwk&feature=player_embedded

There will be differences in the American and British episodes. One reason might be to remove some of the cultural references which American audiences might not understand, but this sounds like a questionable move considering the number of shows from the U.K. which have aired in the United States–including previous seasons of Torchwood. I also wonder if there might be sex scenes which Starz would air which the BBC would not.

Russel T. Davies has said that the show will not abandon its Welsh roots and will include scenes from Wales. I hope they do not feel like they need to cut back on such scenes for American audiences. Besides previous seasons of Torchwood, I have managed to enjoy shows set in Wales such as Gavin and Stacey, despite not understanding all the cultural references on the shows.


Tardis Newsroom has videos of interviews with producers and cast of Torchwood: Miracle Day.

John de Lancie was also interviewed about his role:

Actor John de Lancie says that his upcoming role in Torchwood: Miracle Day is one of a “gruff” CIA specialist who is involved in the final three episodes of the season.

“I’m a recurring character in the final three episodes of the series,” he told SFX. “My character is CIA, very gruff, [and] unimpressed by the ‘Torchwood clowns’ as he’d call them.”

De Lancie, best known for his role as Q in the Star Trek franchise, added that the new season of Torchwood still has a “British” feel.

“My sense is the show is still quite British,” he said. “It has, mostly, an American crew, but the sensibility of it, led by Russell [T Davies], is very British.”

He also claimed that Miracle Day is “completely different… to Star Trek” and that his role involved “no technobabble”.

“It’s someone’s future, potentially real,” he explained. “I enjoyed that.”

The video of an interview with Bill Pullman on BBC Breakfast is above.

True Blood returns tonight. TV Guide has a list of ten spoilers–none of which I believe will ruin the show for anyone.

Weeds takes a trip into the future. The upcoming season, returning this week, takes place three years after last season, with Nancy getting out of prison.

Casting news for various shows is starting to come out. The most interesting is that Natalie Dormer of Tudors will be appearing on Game of Thrones.  She’ll be playing Margaery Tyrell, the betrothed wife to a new contender for the throne. Filming for the second season begins in July.

 

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Not Enough Nudity On The Internet

Mark Cuban complains that there is not enough nudity on the internet. As strange as this sounds, he does have a point when you consider the types of material with nudity:

It occurred to me that its possible to find porn. Its possible to find PG 13 type videos,but its really difficult to find R rated videos. Sure there are Playboy or Mr SKin type sites that will titillate us, and there are the sites where college kids go wild, but thats not what Im referring to. Where are the internet videos that cover grown up subject matters, where nudity “that contributes to the subject matter” isn’t considered gratuitous or pornographic ?

You cant post that kind of material on Youtube , Myspace, Yahoo or AOL Video. So where will user generated content geared towards a more “mature” audience go ? Dailymotion ? Or does internet hosted video never get past PG – 13 ? Has internet hosted video evolved into the most censored medium of our generation ? If you really want to go beyond PG 13, do you have to host it yourself on your own website ?

Does this mean he’s going to start putting more mature shows with nudity on HD Net? Cable, of course, does have the internet beat in this regard. For example, all those non-gratuitous and non-pornographic steamy sex scenes with Natalie Dormer as Ann Boleyn (pictured above) on The Tudors certainly contributed to the subject matter and our understanding of English history. (An example is here, along with some pictures from Californication, which I will allow viewers to decide whether they are gratitutious and/or pornographic).

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