J.J. Abrams has been highly successful in keeping shows interesting by rebooting them over time so that each season isn’t a rehash of the exact same format as previous seasons, and viewers cannot assume that fundamental changes cannot occur. This worked with Lost and Alias in the past. It worked a little less well on Fringe, with the fourth season failing to maintain the quality of the second and third seasons (with the show still worth watching). If Alcatraz survived, it was clear from the finale that it would also have been a different show. I had concerns as to whether Once Upon A Time could be successful over multiple seasons if left with a situation where Emma must always fail to break the spell. As was rumored before airing, Once Upon A Time had a major reboot, with Emma breaking the spell, followed by Rumpelstiltskin bringing back magic. The highlight of the week was the appearance of Amy Acker on Person of Interest, also shaking up this show.
Amy Acker’s character, who turned out to be the hacker Root, surprised Finch and Reese, and from reviews it appears also fooled most viewers. While this was the second time that the person they were protecting turned out to be far different from what the person seemed, the set up was done so well that we were fooled again. The series began with a simple format of the machine giving Social Security numbers. A simpler show would have continued the format, failing to raise the underlying questions of what it would mean to have such a powerful computer. The episode ended with Finch in danger and a phone call to Reese which just might be the machine, making it likely that the machine will be more significant next season. I hope that Amy Acker’s character also becomes a recurring character next season. Seeing how this show has evolved, it would most likely be as a protagonist to Reese and Finch, but not being sure of Root’s agenda, she could also turn into an ally over time.
Awake is in the midst of a two-part series finale so I will wait until it is completed before saying much about the show, but what is the deal with Britten visiting Britten in the preview? I do hope they end this series with a satisfying explanation as to what has been happening with the two realities.
If seeing Amy Acker on Person of Interest was the network television highlight of the week, the low point was the firing of Dan Harmon as show runner of Community. Producing a season of Community without Dan Harmon as show runner is like doing West Wing without Aaron Sorkin or Gilmore Girls without Amy Sherman-Paladino. Neither show was as good as when their creators ran the show, but in this case the consequences will be far worse. Those who took over West Wing and Gilmore Girls still attempted to do a similar show without breaking from the past. In this case I fear that the goal is to make Community a more traditional sit-com about a group of people going to school together. The show has an excellent cast and might still be an above-average sit-com, but it will not be the same without Harmon’s variations from the normal sit-com formula.
As is usually done in such situations. Harmon was given a title, but it is doubtful he will have any further influence on the show. He explained how he learned about being fired after getting off a plane and turning on his phone, without any previous discussion with Sony.
Apparently great show runners are treated better Great Britain than here. Steven Moffat is to receive as special Bafta award for “outstanding creative writing contribution to television.” One of Moffat’s current shows, Sherlock, is now running in the United States while Doctor Who recently filmed the final scene with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. Gillan is seen in the picture above taken at Cannes, and will soon start filming Not Another Happy Ending, a movie about an eccentric author with writer’s block. She did manage to steal something before leaving the TARDIS for the last time.
An episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor’s Wife, was awarded the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation at the Nebula Awards. That was quite a major accomplishment, beating Midnight in Paris, Hugo, Captain America, Source Code, and The Adjustment Bureau for the award. Among Others by, Jo Walton won the Award for Best Novel.
This week’s episode of Awake, Guilty, did little to progress the mythology of the show, but did address how Michael’s son and wife were coping with the loss of the other in each reality. There was no further mention of the ending from last week regarding the car crash. Things were very similar in both worlds–so much so that Michael could use sleeping pills to go to sleep and find out where a falsely convicted man had a hiding place in the dessert after his counterpart was killed in one realilty. Having things be so similar, including both having hide outs in the same location, was a different situation from last week when the same person was a fertility specialist in one reality and a homeless man in the other. The previews suggest that next week’s episode will again have a character who is different in each reality.
Awake actor Jason Issacs says over the next several episodes, the series will begin to examine some of the implications of Michael’s ability to fall asleep and change from one reality to the next.
That examination will begin with tonight’s episode when something happens to his teenage son in one universe and Michael takes extreme methods to try and go to the other to find clues that may help him get his son back.
Issacs says he came on the idea that Michael could take sleeping pills in order to fall asleep in one universe and wake up in the other.
“That was my idea – “Please let me take a fistful of pills” – and Howard Gordon went, “Great idea.” And there it was on the page next day,” Issacs says. There are not that many stories in the world, so it’s always about execution, and taste, and tone. And you very smartly put your finger on one of the hats that’s in the ring – how many interesting and different ways can we think of to make him pass out and go to sleep? There’s a bunch of people in that writers building that you’d like to be on a desert island with, because they continue to get more and more creative as the series goes on. They spread their wings until they’re just flying.”
Issacs says that idea will extend into next week’s episode and the question of Michael losing consciousness in one reality will shift him to the other.
“Any drop in consciousness. There’s an episode coming up where we play with every permutation of what you can do with this guy. You know that old showbiz maxim, “Nobody buys a ticket to watch the village of the happy people”? We send this guy to hell and back, and one way we play with him is to make him unconscious as often as possible, and we do it in every way you can dream of. Knocked out, getting medicated, being drugged against his will,” Issacs says.
HBO has released the synopses for the first five episodes of Game of Thrones:
Season 2, Episode 1: “The North Remembers” (April 1)
“As Robb Stark and his northern army continue the war against the Lannisters, Tyrion arrives in King’s Landing to counsel Joffrey and temper the young king’s excesses. On the island of Dragonstone, Stannis Baratheon plots an invasion to claim his late brother’s throne, allying himself with the fiery Melisandre, a strange priestess of a stranger god. Across the sea, Daenerys, her three young dragons and khalasar trek through the Red Waste in search of allies, or water. In the North, Bran presides over a threadbare Winterfell, while beyond the Wall, Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch must shelter with a devious wildling.”
Season 2, Episode 2: “The Night Lands” (April 8)
“In the wake of a bloody purge in the capital, Tyrion chastens Cersei for alienating the king’s subjects. On the road north, Arya shares a secret with Gendry, a Night’s Watch recruit. With supplies dwindling, one of Dany’s scouts returns with news of their position. After nine years as a Stark ward, Theon Greyjoy reunites with his father Balon, who wants to restore the ancient Kingdom of the Iron Islands. Davos enlists Salladhor Saan, a pirate, to join forces with Stannis and Melisandre for a naval invasion of King’s Landing.”
Season 2, Episode 3: “What Is Dead May Never Die” (April 15)
“At the Red Keep, Tyrion plots three alliances through the promise of marriage. Catelyn arrives in the Stormlands to forge an alliance of her own. But King Renly, his new wife Margaery and her brother Loras Tyrell have other plans. At Winterfell, Luwin tries to decipher Bran’s dreams.”
Season 2, Episode 4: “Garden of Bones” (April 22)
“Joffrey punishes Sansa for Robb’s victories, while Tyrion and Bronn scramble to temper the king’s cruelty. Catelyn entreats Stannis and Renly to forego their ambitions and unite against the Lannisters. Dany and her exhausted khalasar arrive at the gates of Qarth, a prosperous city with strong walls and rulers who greet her outside them. Tyrion coerces a queen’s man into being his eyes and ears. Arya and Gendry are taken to Harrenhal, where their lives rest in the hands of “The Mountain,” Gregor Clegane. Davos must revert to his old ways and smuggle Melisandre into a secret cove.”
Season 2, Episode 5: “The Ghost of Harrenhal” (April 29)
“The end of the Baratheon rivalry drives Catelyn to flee and Littlefinger to act. At King’s Landing, Tyrion’s source alerts him to Joffrey’s flawed defense plan and a mysterious secret weapon. Theon sails to the Stony Shore to prove he’s worthy to be called Ironborn. In Harrenhal, Arya receives a promise from Jaqen H’ghar, one of three prisoners she saved from the Gold Cloaks. The Night’s Watch arrive at the Fist of the First Men, an ancient fortress where they hope to stem the advance of the wildling army.”
The Fringe Team’s favorite Walterisms, collected at WonderCon in the video above.
Once Upon A Time had a new twist to the Little Red Riding Hood story. The TV Addict interviewed Meghan Ory about the twist in her role:
So how long have you know about the juicy nugget that you’re the big, bad wolf? MEGHAN: I’ve know for a little while. A few episodes in, the boys called me up and said, “Guess what? You’re the wolf!”
When you auditioned to the show, they didn’t say, “Hey, by the way . . . “? MEGHAN: They did not tell me. They did not. I think it might have changed a few things about my audition perhaps. But it was very exciting when I found out.
What did you think when they first told you? Did you think, “Oh no!” or “Oh, cool!”? MEGHAN: I was intrigued. I thought it was a really cool twist and something that most people probably wouldn’t see coming and it was kind of something different for the show too. So I was pretty excited about it.
Did it start informing your performance once you found out? As far as changing the way you were portraying Ruby? MEGHAN: A little bit. But not too much. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do with her. And also since we hadn’t seen the wolf in Storybrooke, it was more a Red thing, and we hadn’t seen Red that much.
Have they clued you in on whether Ruby can transform in Storybrooke, or is that part of the curse? That isn’t something she has to worry about? MEGHAN: Well, I think that’s going to be a very interesting story to find out about.
Jennifer Morrison talks about what is coming up on the show here.
In a post at The Guardian which is primarily about Mark Gattis joining Being Human, there are some comments about the cliff hanger to Sherlock (major spoiler for those who have not seen the season two finale:
Earlier this year Steven Moffat suggested that feverish fan theories as to how Holmes had faked his own death had missed one vital clue. So does Gatiss think the truth could now be out there? “There’s some very clever theories, some of them elaborate, and I enjoy them all. But if I were to tell you if someone had worked it out then it wouldn’t be a secret.” Which, of course, isn’t an answer. So I try again. Has somebody somewhere now worked it out? “It may be, sort of, in some of the theories. There’s a lot of very clever people out there … ”
Gatiss points to certain theories beyond his wildest imagination, and admits to being happily shocked by the frenzy that surrounded Holmes’ jump. “I’ve never known something become such a public talking point.” And one that shows little sign of abating. “It’ll be worth the wait,” he promises.
On the planned US Sherlock Holmes update, starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, he pauses for a moment. “All I can say … is no comment.”
According to the BBC’s in-house magazine, Sherlock won’t begin filming until early 2013, meaning that we won’t see a resolution to the cliff hanger until at least spring. We might not have that answer, but if anyone is wondering about Benedict Cumberbatch’s favorite songs, they can check here.
I am sure happy that Community has returned. It is the only sit-com to deal with topics including seven alternative realities, a parody of My Dinner With Andre, and paintball fights–plus in contrast to HBO, no horses were killed during the production of this show. Community remains on the bubble, but the ratings of the show compared to other NBC comedies leaves reason to be optimistic. While it might have benefited by all the hype surrounding its return, as well as not being up against The Big Bang Theory this week, Community has done better than 30 Rock and the first episode back beat most NBC shows:
This season, except all 18 episodes of The Office, all six episodes of Smash (following The Voice), three episodes of Shitney (1.01, 1.02 and 1.03, all after The Office), three episodes of Up All Night (1.01 (after the America’s Got Talent finale), 1.02 (time-period première) and 1.04) and the season premiere of Law & Order : Special Victim Unit, not a single scripted NBC show has done better than last Thursday’s Community episode.
The demographics of the viewers were also quite favorable. Favorable reviews, such as this one from The New York Times, is certainly helpful.
Community has also been picked up for syndication by the Comedy Channel. Another few years worth of episodes should make syndication even more lucrative. Huffington Post has a handy chart of all the relationships on the show.
With Jeff’s ties to both Annie and Britta, will there be any kind of development in either (or both) of those relationships this season?
There’s no romantic development really; there will be little things here and there. But as Dan has always done, he mixes up the couples all the time. It’s like being in a really close group of friends in high school – they keep pairing up in different ways. But because the group has to fend for its life against all these outside pressures–like the air conditioning repair school, Chang’s ascent to power with an army of 13-year-old boys he gets from a Bar Mitzvah, and the group gets expelled–those things have to be resolved first.
How long is the group expelled for?
They’re expelled forever. They all go work at a Jamba Juice together.
This has often been called the darkest season of ‘Community’ – any hints or teasers as to how things get darker in the coming episodes?
A few characters die, in a hilarious way – that’s dark. Troy and Abed get into a pretty big fight. There’s a full-scale blanket fort war. It’s not like it’s become macabre or scary, but it definitely gets darker than usual. But I think that’s where Dan and the other writers operate best. One of the most praised episodes of last season was the Dungeon and Dragons episode (“Advanced Dungeon and Dragons”), which dealt with a guy who was going to commit suicide. So I think the writers are happy to dance around the lasers right now.
Among other genre shows, Once Upon A Time is believed to have an excellent chance for renewal and Person of Interest was officially renewed in the past week. Over at Fox, Terra Nova has officially been cancelled while Alcatraz and Fringe remain in danger.
The movie version of 24 has been delayed, but now there are reports that it will be turned into a trilogy.
Matt Smith returned to Craig Ferguson’s show last week, wearing a hat but not a Fez or Stetson.Matt also made a contribution to Swedish lesbians. Craig Ferguson prepared this musical introduction to an earlier interview with Matt Smith but it could not air as CBS failed to get clearance in time from the BBC:
Planet Gallifrey has quotes some information from Steven Moffat on next season of Doctor Who:
On the Doctor’s fame: “We’re going to explore that properly next series. The Doctor’s project is to sort of erase himself from history because there’s only so many times you can stand and boast at Stonehenge”
On the heavier story arc: “I don’t think Doctor Who will ever be as arc-driven again”
Due to the increased interest from the title ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, Moffat has told the writers to really “slut it up” and “write it like a movie poster. Let’s do big, huge, mad ideas”
On Amy, Rory and River: “I do have an end game for all of them”
On River: “You realise you’ve learned nothing. She may or may not be married to the Doctor, depending on whether that was actually a marriage ceremony, or whether it counts if he’s inside a giant robot replica of himself”
On his future as showrunner: “Even though I’m more tired than I’ve ever been, I don’t feel any impulse to leave”
Moffat also says the cancellation of Doctor Who Confidential was a bad decision.
The boxed set of series six will contain six mini-episodes. They are described here.
Once Upon A Time premieres tonight but the pilot episode has been leaked on line (probably intentionally by ABC to create more buzz for the show). The above video shows the first nine minutes and I found the entire pilot to be enjoyable. The show, by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz of Lost, does have some features in common with Lost, as well as many differences. Like Lost, the show alternates between two different scenes. While Lost had flashbacks, flashforwards, and sideways flashes in the final season, Once Upon A Time alternates between our world and a fairytale world. The Evil Queen casts a spell on the inhabitants of the fairytale world, taking away their happy endings and forcing them to live in our world in a town name Storybrooke without memories of their identities. The only person who can save them is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who is lured to Storybrooke. More on the idea behind the show:
Their unique tale explores what happens when the modern world and the world of fairy tales collide. In Once Upon a Time, a 28-year-old bail bonds collector named Emma Swan finds herself returning young runaway Henry, a 10-year-old boy she gave up for adoption, to the town of Storybrooke. Henry believes that Emma and everyone in the town comes from an alternate world, a fairytale land that, thanks to a curse by the Evil Queen, is now trapped forever in time. The characters have been brought into our world with no knowledge of who they really are. The series, which premieres Sunday, Oct. 23, at 8 p.m., stars Jennifer Morrison as Emma, Jared Gilmore as Henry, Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White, Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen and Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin.
“What really [Lost's showrunners] Damon [Lindelof] and Carlton [Cuse] taught us was it’s character first, mythology second. And we took that really to heart, and it’s that lesson that led us to this, how to tell this story,” said Kitsis. “Because we’ve had this idea for eight years, and it wasn’t until we were on Lost that we really figured out how to tell it, because we didn’t want to do a pilot where every episode was about the first five minutes of the pilot. … For us, it had to be about the characters and emotion. If Lost was about redemption, Once Upon A Time is about hope.”
“The stories are amazingly difficult,” said Horowitz. “We try to set an incredibly high bar for ourselves, and we always want to try to top ourselves and to push the limits of what’s possible on a network television schedule and budget, and for us it’s really about ‘How do we keep telling the stories that excite us and that we really love, and how do we keep finding new things about these characters to explore and reveal to the audience?’”
Once Upon a Time will feature both the modern world of Storybrooke and the lavish fairytale land in every episode.
“Every week is going to kind of be exactly like the pilot,” said Kitsis. “We are going to go back and forth between the two worlds, and we’re going to focus on a character and … highlight what that character had going on in fairytale land, and in Storybrooke you’re going to see the void that the cursed replaced it with.”
Maureen Ryan has more on the show, including ways it is and is not like Lost:
The Ways in Which ‘Once Upon a Time’ Is Like ‘Lost’
1. There are parallel and connected realities, as noted above. Horowitz: “The typical episode will be a version of a story in Storybrooke, Maine involving the characters you have met in the pilot and focusing probably on one of them, and taking us into the fairytale land where we see a version of [that character's] story, and there is hopefully some thematic connection with what is going on” in both places.
2. What the show is really about is not very high-concept. Kitsis: “That was what was so funny about ‘Lost’ — everyone was like ‘[It's] high concept!’ Not really. A plane crashed and now they’re stuck.” Similarly, ‘Once’ can be stripped down to very basic themes of loss, acceptance, community and connection. Horowitz: “Ultimately, it’s about these people in this town — what are their conflicts going to be, how are they going to find love or not find love, how are they going to find happiness or not find happiness.” Kitsis: ‘Lost’ “was not ‘Let’s come in and start pitching craziness!’ It was character. Hurley was a guy who was frightened of change in any form, so every episode, we were like, ‘Well, what is he frightened of in this one?’… It’s character first, mythology second.”
3. There’s a mythology, but each episode will work on its own. Horowitz: “There will be an ongoing story, but …each episode is a self-contained. …But if you’re watching the show, you’ll also be enjoying Emma’s ongoing struggle against Regina over [Regina's son] Henry and there will be those [continuing] elements.”4. Storybrooke isn’t an island, but it might feel like one at times. Kitsis: Fairy tales “were moral tales to teach children, and in a lot of ways, ‘Lost’ was about redemption. For us, ‘Once’ is about hope and that’s what we’re interested in [exploring] … It’s about an enclosed group of people trying to get over things.”
5. It’s ultimately optimistic about the possibility of change and redemption. Kitsis: “What I love the most about fairy tales … is, it’s why you buy a lottery ticket. It’s that your life can change. One day you’re Cinderella and you’re sweeping up for your evil stepmom and then the next day you get everything, and that’s what I love about these stories. When Charlie gets the chocolate factory… what I love about writing is it’s wish fulfillment. We try to write in a real way, but like at the end of the day, I want the chocolate factory and I want the golden ticket and we wanted to write a show about hope, especially in a time where I feel like it’s needed.”
6. It won’t be perfect. Embracing mistakes as learning experiences was one of their chief lessons on ‘Lost.’ Horowitz: “Anything that someone else may look at and say ‘Oh, that didn’t work’ or ‘It was a problem’ or whatever, to us simply was part of the journey. It was part of how we got to the endpoint that was the show. So there is nothing from the show I would say ‘Oh, I didn’t want [that],’ because it all organically [allowed] us to get the whole thing to be what it was.”
7. One of the show’s wizards is named Lindelof. Kitsis and Horowitz said that Lindelof was a huge help when they were working on ‘Once Upon a Time.’ Kitsis: “His name is not on this pilot, but he is in the DNA of it in the sense that like he has really helped us realize our vision of our show.”
The Ways in Which ‘Once Upon a Time’ Is Not Like ‘Lost’
1. Horowitz: “We’re not bringing Nikki and Paulo onto the show.” Kitsis: “Yeah, not yet.” Horowitz: “Season 3, episode 5.”
2. There are no polar bears, hatches, Others or downed airplanes. Kitsis: “For us, you can’t repeat ‘Lost’ because ‘Lost’ was its own unique thing, so why would anyone try?” Having said that, eagle-eyed fans will be able to spot little shoutouts to ‘Lost’ in some of the details of the Storybrooke world.
3. Their storytelling surrogate is a 10-year-old Storybrooke boy named Henry (Jared Gilmore) who’s really nothing like Hurley (or Walt). Kitsis: “Henry is us at 10, who’s into things that no one else is. … All the things that later in life, people celebrate about you are the exact same things that made you eat lunch alone when you were young, and that’s what we write about because that is where we came from.”
Another new series, Grimm, also deals with fairytales but sounds much less interesting to me. The premise is that the protagonist is a Grimm, whose family has the ability to see and track down fairytale monsters. It sounds like just another police procedural drama with a twist, and we already got one of those this season with Person of Interest.
Terra Nova shows potential, but to remain interesting will have to do more with the conflict with the Sixers and revelations as to the real motives for setting up the colony in the prehistoric past. It appears that this is the direction the show will be moving in based upon this interview from Entertainment Weekly with Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on the ratings uptick. I hear the show is going to get more serialized from here on? RENÉ ECHEVARRIA: It does. We’re going to roll out the whole Sixer mythology this season. You’re going to see who sent them here and why, and it all comes to a head in the season finale. BRANNON BRAGA: Whether it’s the strange markings on the rocks, or even the new thing we introduced Monday night with the container, all these things will culminate and be explored by the end of the 13. And it’s been fun doing that. As the episodes go on, the momentum will build with the ongoing storylines.
It was almost like you had these serialized elements in the pilot, then Fox said “make it more stand-alone.” BB: Are you sleeping with a network executive? Do you have spies?
That’s sort of what happened on Fringe. RE: It’s true in the first couple episodes, you do want to cast a wide net. And we are picking up those threads now. The story with Josh picks up a lot of heat about what he’s willing to do to get his girl here, and he gets way in over his head. It was an unexpected discovery as the season went along that this was a way to play scenes with the Sixers, but not with the adults. And it gives Josh and odd romantic triangle with Skye — how does she compete with an idealized person?
BB: The question was asked in [Monday's] episode — which we thought was a good template for what the show really is going to be like moving forward, with a mixture of stand-alone elements and ongoing storyline — there was a question asked: “What is Terra Nova really all about?” That’s a question we’ll begin to answer. Things are not what they appear to be. Clearly Taylor has secrets. Jim is keeping things about his Sixer visit from Taylor. And there’s something big going on that Jim finds himself in the middle of.
Will we see more of 2149? RE: We don’t see a lot of 2149. We come to see the conspiracy with the Sixers is being orchestrated in 2149, and as we get toward the season finale we will go to 2149 and see that more explicitly. But most of our storytelling takes place in Terra Nova.
BB: When we do go there, it’s very cool.
The ‘Help’ actress believes many movies that were made in the 1970s would not be commissioned these days as studio bosses are too afraid of “offending” anyone.
She said: “It concerns me that movies seem to be getting more and more conservative and watered down.
“I see movies made in the 70s such as ‘Network’ that I really don’t think would get made today. A movie that calls the audience to task for sitting glued to their screens, believing everything they’re told by the media? That would be considered too challenging today. Nobody wants to risk offending the viewers.
“Movies need broad appeal to succeed and bosses don’ want to alienate anyone.”
Emma, 22, believes many actors censor themselves to an extent where it has a severe impact on their performances.
She added: “I even hate it when people censor themselves. You can always tell when an actor has grown a ‘rhino skin’ to protect themselves. It comes across on screen and they aren’t believable.
“They’re dead in the eyes because they’ve been told a million times that they’re the greatest actor that ever lived. If you don’t realise what’s happening and get your feet back on the ground, it can be the worst thing that ever happens to you.”