SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Sleepy Hollow; Arrow; SHIELD; DC Movie Plans; The Americans; The Blacklist; Scarlett Johansson Gets Superpowers; Groundhog Day;Death of the Rani; How I Met Your Mother Finale

Hannibal Murkozuke

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Mukozuke, had Jack Crawford viewing Beverly’s sliced body. Bryan Fuller described Hannibal breaking her down as being like how Beverly would break down a crime scene. Her murder had major effects on several characters, especially Will Graham who was driven to have Hannibal killed in revenge. He found a clever way to attempt this despite being incarcerated, finding his admirer who killed the bailiff (in an attempt to provide evidence that Will was not the Chesapeake Ripper) using Freddy Lounds.

This was a dangerous move on Will’s part as it could reinforce the idea held by others that Will is the murderer and Hannibal has been the victim of his slurs. I suspect that Will’s vision of dripping blood might represent realization that he was wrong to attempt murder. At least he was unsuccessful and does not actually have blood on his hands. Will didn’t even bother to tell others this week that Hannibal killed Grace, even when viewing her body in the restraints we were more accustomed to seeing Hannibal wearing in Silence of the Lambs,  presumably preferring that they figure it out for themselves. The preview from next week’s episode does suggest that Jack is starting to investigate Hannibal, and we saw in the season premiere how that will turn out.

I wonder if Hannibal will actually have more respect for Will for taking this action, and if he will take pride in being successful in driving Will to attempt murder (even if it had to be by proxy).

I was fearful that having Will in the asylum all season would limit his role, but episodes such as this show how he can remain fully part of the show. Having Abel Gideon as his asylum mate now presents yet another way for Jack to have significant dialog beyond being limited to FBI visitors.

There have been accusations of racism and sexism raised against Bryan Fuller due to the manner in which Beverly Katz was treated as an expendable character. Hetteinne Park, who played Beverly, defended Fuller here.

Sleepy Hollow Cast

News on the second season of Sleepy Hollow from PaleyFest can be found here. Among the news, it sounds like one of the cliff hangers at the end of the first season will not  be settled quickly:

There’s a New Sheriff in Town: Literally Orci teases, “There’s a new sheriff in town. Obviously, Irving has been discredited and now he’s been taken Upstate, so the Sleepy Hollow Police Department still has to be run by somebody and that person may not be as open as Irving was by the end of the season with Abbie and Crane. So somebody may be making their life very difficult.”

Orlando Jones is definitely not down with the new Sheriff, even making his own t-shirt, which said, “Free Frank Irving.” (Yes, he’s the best.)

There will also be fifteen or more episodes next season.

Arrow Birds of Prey

Jessica de Gouw returned as Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress on Arrow, tying up the storyline of the relationship between Helena and her father, leaving the character free to move in other directions. Caity Lotz was a second Bird of Prey as the Black Canary.

It appears that Laurel’s drug use has affected the powers of observation in Katie Cassidy’s character. Despite the two speaking while sitting as closely together as in the picture above, Laurel did not recognize that Black Canary is her sister Sara. It is a theme taken from the comics to have a tiny mask be enough to hide a superhero’s identity, but this was hard to believe in this scene. I also wonder if having the two meet is a first step towards Laurel ultimately becoming the Black Canary as in the comics, or if this something which the comics and television show will always differ on.

The episode also ended with quite a cliff hanger. More here, including why they killed off Helena’s father:

On why they killed Helena’s father:
Guggenheim: We definitely went into this with, “We’ve got to wrap up the whole Helena and her father storyline.” The one thing we were agreed upon in the writer’s room from the get-go was that Frank could not survive the episode. We had to end that story and close that chapter of Helena’s life so we could start a new chapter for her. … We definitely have an idea for a season 3 episode with the Huntress.

De Gouw: I think how this episode ends just puts her into a completely different headspace…and I think it’s opened up a whole new set of possibilities for her because she was so set on one path and now that it has been realized that that’s not what she wanted, it just frees her up for an entirely different life.

On whether The Huntress is redeemable:
De Gouw: I think most people are. And I think the place she’s at at the end of this episode, she’s certainly in a place where she can be redeemed…I think that it will be very interesting to explore her fighting for good or for very different reasons. But I think [she] definitely [is].

Amy Acker SHIELD The Cellist

The addition of Amy Acker as a regular has greatly strengthened Person of Interest, including on this week’s episode. Hopefully her presence, even if more limited, can also help Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. improve. Acker has been cast as Agent Coulson’s former cellist girlfriend, Audrey.

DC might have the best superhero television series on the air, but is far behind Marvel in big screen success. The New York Times interviewed Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who wants to be more aggressive in taking on Marvel:

The studio has been painfully slow to establish a slate of films based on DC Comics characters like Wonder Woman and the Flash, watching as Disney’s Marvel Entertainment churns out one superhero hit after another…

As for DC Entertainment, cross-studio collaboration to make better use of its comic book characters appears to have accelerated considerably since Mr. Tsujihara took over, in part because he eliminated some management layers. (He has not named a chief operating officer and did not replace Mr. Rosenblum and Mr. Robinov, choosing instead to divide up their duties and assume some himself.) Two new television shows are coming to the CW and Fox, including one based on the Flash and another on a young Batman, and a film series will be announced in the near future, Mr. Tsujihara said. It is expected to include a “Justice League” movie.

Underscoring his aggressive approach to the DC Comics universe, Mr. Tsujihara and Dan Fellman, Warner’s domestic film distribution chief, recently moved the studio’s untitled Batman-Superman movie — a hotly anticipated follow-up to last year’s “Man of Steel” — to a release date in May 2016 previously claimed by Marvel for one of its own films. It created an industry dust-up, and Marvel retaliated with a date change of its own. But the move sent a blunt message: Warner takes a back seat to no one.

the-americans-2-05-j-and-m

In other notable television moments of the week, Philip seemed really evil on The Americans when he sent the poor physicist home while Elizabeth did a great job smoothing over things with Martha. I do think that Phillip and the Mossad agent did have mutual respect for each other as each did what they knew they would do if in the position of the other.

On The Blacklist I was glad to see that once they revealed to the audience what we already suspected about Tom, they didn’t wait long to have Lizzie also figure out the truth about him.

Lucy

Scarlett Johansson gets superpowers in Lucy. From Entertainment Weekly:

Don’t do drugs, kids…unless said drugs transform your neurological makeup to give you superhero-level mind powers. That’s what happens in Luc Besson’s action thriller 
Lucy (out Aug. 8), starring Scarlett Johansson as a young woman who turns the tables on those exploiting her when experimental drugs give her hyperpowered ass-kicking abilities. “I love to see a woman as a very strong character,” says Besson (The Professional and La Femme Nikita). “It’s like cooking: sugar with a 
 bit of salt, and Lucy definitely can get salty.” Keep your eyes peeled for the trailer, which is scheduled to hit iTunes on April 2.

Groundhog Day

I don’t agree with all of Charles Murray’s Advice For A Happy Life, but I do agree with watching Groundhog Day:

The movie “Groundhog Day” was made more than two decades ago, but it is still smart and funny. It is also a brilliant moral fable that deals with the most fundamental issues of virtue and happiness, done with such subtlety that you really need to watch it several times.

An egocentric TV weatherman played by Bill Murray is sent to Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover Groundhog Day. He hates the assignment, disdains the town and its people, and can’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh. But a snowstorm strikes, he’s stuck in Punxsutawney, and when he wakes up the next morning, it is Groundhog Day again. And again and again and again.

The director and co-writer Harold Ramis, whose death last month was mourned by his many fans, estimated that the movie has to represent at least 30 or 40 years’ worth of days. We see only a few dozen of them, ending when Bill Murray’s character has discovered the secrets of human happiness.

Without the slightest bit of preaching, the movie shows the bumpy, unplanned evolution of his protagonist from a jerk to a fully realized human being—a person who has learned to experience deep, lasting and justified satisfaction with life even though he has only one day to work with.

You could learn the same truths by studying Aristotle’s “Ethics” carefully, but watching “Groundhog Day” repeatedly is a lot more fun.

Kate O’Mara, The Rani, died today. There was no regeneration. Above is a scene from Doctor Who: The Mark of the Rani from 1985. Besides her role on Doctor Who as a renegade Time Lady, she is also known for her roles on Dynasty and Absolutely Fabulous. She has had other cult television appearances on two British shows,  The Avengers and The Saint.

Barney and Robin actually did get married last week and tomorrow we will find out if the fan theories about Ted and the Mother are true. I suspect we are in for a different surprise, which will be legendary. Above is the video of the cast of How I Met Your Mother on Inside The Actors Studio with the series finale airing tomorrow night.

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SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Hannibal; Orphan Black; Doctor Who; Star Trek; Person of Interest; The Americans; Continuum; Fox vs. Kristen Bell; Mad Men; Lost; Creationists vs. Cosmos

Arrow Suicide Squad

I must admit I was a bit underwhelmed by this week’s episode of Arrow, not because it was a bad episode (it wasn’t) but my expectations had been raised so high by all the hype over the introduction of the Suicide Squad. I did like how they tied it to Dingle and his ex-wife, but beyond them there was little time for anyone else other than Deadshot and Amanda Waller. Of course Shrapnel didn’t last very long. (Are we certain he is really dead–we never saw the body.) They probably could have used more time to flesh out the story further, perhaps as a two-part show. Dingle was definitely able to carry the episode as lead and if limited to one episode it also might have been better to just give him the entire episode. Most of the scenes with Oliver and Felicity, other than the final scene, were pretty much filler anyways. I know it is unconventional to leave out two of the biggest stars, but it would have made a stronger episode.

There were two scenes with Oliver worth noting. I have no idea how Slade could have had video of Shadow from the island and suspect this was a case of the writers going for a more dramatic scene at the expense of reality (even within the parameters of this series). I did like the ending, tying into not only Dingle but Oliver, and having a potential new ally against Slade. While she was introduced to the DC world long after I stopped reading Batman comics, I understand that the cameo by Harley Quinn is a huge deal for many fans. Collider spoke with producer Marc Guggenheim about the series and potential appearances from characters from the Batman universe:

How much of the Batman universe can you plug into this show, especially now with Gotham out there?

GUGGENHEIM:  That’s part of the ongoing relationship and discussions that we have with DC.  Things have not really changed with Gotham.  It’s the same thing that it always is, which is that we have an idea, we go to DC, we talk about it, and we find out where the lines are and which characters are available or not available.  I want to manage expectations with respect to Harley Quinn.  She was always intended to be an Easter egg.  I don’t want people to go in with incorrect expectations and walk away from Episode 16 disappointed.  But there is an element to the Easter egg that was not spoiled by the promo, that I think people will find a lot of fun. 

The Arrow’s secret identity was also discussed:

Question: There are a lot of people who know Oliver’s secret now.  Is that number going to go down, before the end of this season, or are more people going to find out?
MARC GUGGENHEIM:  I would say that that number is going to go up, before the end of the year.  By the finale, more people will know than currently do.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

GUGGENHEIM:  We talk in the writers’ room a lot about, are there too many characters that know and does it diminish the secret identity?  Where we have come from is the philosophy that, when members of our cast of characters know, it draws them into Oliver’s world and it draws them into the show more.  So, we tend to get more story out of people knowing than people not knowing.  You could say that too many people know, but we always use The Dark Knight trilogy as our compass, and a lot of people knew that Bruce Wayne was Batman, particularly by the third movie, and it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of watching those stories unfold.  Obviously, there are different philosophies and different points of view.  For us, as writers, we always go towards whatever gives us more story, and more interesting story.  For now, at least, certain people knowing is more interesting than certain people not knowing. 

Quentin Lance used to be a detective.  How has he not figured out that Oliver is Arrow?

GUGGENHEIM:  Episode 19 pretty definitively answers that question, as far as Lance is concerned.  And the answer to that will surprise you.  It’s not something that you would expect.

I’m happy to hear they are addressing Lance. After a recent episode in which Lance saw Sara with Oliver and with the Arrow in a couple scenes I could not believe that he did not figure out that they were the same person.

More characters from The Flash will also be introduced in episode 19, The Man Under the Hood.

Hannibal Takiawase

Hannibal stressed a couple of themes this week which are pertinent to the series as a whole: death as an escape and unconventional psychiatric therapy. The first involved both the motives of the killer of the week (well played by Amanda Plummer) and a second storyline in which Hannibal was the villain not for committing a murder but for thwarting Bella’s attempt to die on her own terms. If the coin toss went the other way, would he have had Bella for dinner?

For a moment I thought that perhaps Will was going to win over a new ally but instead it is clear that Hannibal is going to have Beverly for dinner. If only she had taken Will’s claims more seriously, refrained from relating any suspicions to Hannibal, had passed on her suspicions to Jack, and had thought to have backup before falling into his trap.

Will might have lost one potential ally, but he is still not powerless despite being locked up, and now better able to play detective with the return of lost memories. As he does every week, Bryan Fuller discussed the episode with AV Club. Here is an excerpt about Will:

AVC: Will is getting his memories back, and you’re filling in some of the gaps in season one. Was that always the plan? Did you have thoughts of what had actually happened when you were writing last season?

BF: There was, once Will says, “The answers are in my head, and I’m going to find them,” I felt like we were obligated to tell that story and to keep peeling back the onion of his memory, or the pomegranate, as it were, peeling back membranes and finding these clusters of bloody seeds that he has to deal with. We did that with the intubation of the ear, and then we did that with the reveal of, on some level of consciousness, he was aware what was going on in Hannibal’s dining room when Gideon was there, and is able to access that it causes him to seek out Chilton, to see if he can help him answer some of the mysteries that are locked away in his mind. It felt like it was a way to keep Will active. He can’t actually go out to investigate things, as much as he can go in and investigate things, so we needed to have some device for him to continue his investigation. To be active while he’s incarcerated and going inside his mind felt like a really strong way to do that.

AVC: Did you struggle with finding ways for Will to be active?

BF: It was always part of the conversations when we were story-breaking. “Okay, Will’s not active enough. Will has to be driving this.” We are telling Will Graham’s story, so it was very important to seek out those ways to keep him active when he’s incarcerated. That was the big thing: We need to get outdoors and see him in his mind palace fishing to give us a sense of the power of his imagination and also the transportive power of imagination in general. I think we hear from survivors of terrible atrocities, and how they survive is their imagination. It’s such a wonderful gift, and there was a line that we cut from an episode where they talk about how imagination is the greatest virtual-reality machine known to man, and it’s between our ears. It’s that kind of, almost, masturbatory transportation where you can go someplace and make it as real as you need it to be in your mind, even though you’re locked in a cage.

Orphan Black insider video with Tatiana Maslany above. We already have a strong set of genre shows airing now with Arrow, Hannibal, Continuum, and The Americans. Orphan Black might be the best of them all.

Mark Gatiss has discussed the return of the Time Lords of Gallifrey to Doctor Who.

Blastr has the first hints about the third Star Trek movie since the J.J. Abrams reboot. I’m still waiting for a movie in which the original Spock recruits the Enterprise crew to fix the time line and save Vulcan.

The Americans had another great episode. Claudia is back, and they are trying to track down the killer from the first episode. I would assume that the couple who intervened in the final scene were involved. Last week Elizabeth used fear to get information from the poor janitor. This week she used other more womanly techniques for interrogation. Paige created problems again, this time by going to church and getting caught reading a Bible. Plus Nina might be in danger because of Oleg, and Martha might place Philip’s identity at risk. Arrow shows what a superhero show should be and The Americans sets a new bar for spy shows. This makes Agents of SHIELD look so weak in both genres.

Person of Interest Root2

I’ve also highly enjoyed the last couple of episodes of Person of Interest. The first was almost entirely flashback, filling in some major holes to date in the back story. It ended with Root in the present, leading into this week’s episode which was more centered around Amy Acker’s character. She can easily carry the show, just as Dingle could carry an episode of Arrow. I was happy to read in this interview that she will probably be in the remaining episodes this season.  It looks like she has her own team to rival Harold’s, with root more connected to the Machine.

In many ways Person of Interest is increasingly reminding me of Fringe. Both started by concentrating more on monster or case of the week episodes, but overtime the mythology of the show took over. The characters have become increasingly compelling as people beyond operatives. Root is by far my favorite to watch, and I enjoy seeing her developing relationship with Shaw (“I love it when you play doctor.”) At least the two get along better than Root gets along with Fusco, who constantly calls her “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I am trying hard to avoid any major spoilers on the season premiere of Continuum. Alec’s decision to use time travel has major repercussions, and is moving the show in a new direction. There is finally an answer to the central question of the show, as to whether the time line can be changed.

Now Fox (the network which says it might take a long time to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 because it took us 2000 years to find Noah’s Arc ) is attacking Kristen Bell for saying rich people should pay more because they can afford it. Incidentally, I received my copy of the script and digital download of the Veronica Mars movie last week after donating to the Kickstarter campaign, but have not had time to watch yet.

mad-men-season-6

Matt Weiner isn’t going to let much out about the upcoming season of Mad Men, but there was a little information at PaleyFest. Here’s what they said about Don Draper:

Don is even more aimless without his job.
Don Draper has had some dark moments, but he’s always had his job to fall back on and obsess over. “His marriage is in trouble, his relationship with his kids is tricky at best, and now work isn’t there,” said Hamm. “Don is trying to process his life and his place in his job, his career, his family, everything.” And he’s made some uncharacteristic mistakes of late, including the disastrous Hershey’s pitch. “That was a completely honest moment for him. He thought, I’m going to try this because it’s a step in the right direction,” said Hamm. “But it was a step in the exact opposite direction.” Don’t dismay, though. Hamm ended on a hopeful note: “There’s one principle to Don: He’s a survivor. He rises to the challenge.”

The Lost show runners discussed the finale at PaleyFest. No, the fan theory which I never believed that they were dead the whole time is not true.

Creationists are angry about Cosmos as Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t providing them with equal time to deny science. Last week’s episode did an excellent job showing how evolution is the foundation of modern biology. As there is tremendous evidence for evolution and zero for creationism, there is no reason to grant the creationists a moment of time (other than perhaps to further debunk their claims).

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The Technological Power Of The Surveillance State

Person of Interest Surveillance

When material leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that NSA surveillance is far greater than previously known, and greater than authorized under current laws, I had quipped that the next revelation would be that the machine on Person of Interest is real. We haven’t reached quite that point yet, but two new reports demonstrates that  intelligence-gathering capabilities are getting quite close.

The Wall Street Journal reports on how the NSA’s surveillance systems can penetrate 75 percent of the internet traffic in the country, including content as well as metadata, using algorithms and filtering techniques to sift through the data.

Previous reports have indicated that the NSA’s surveillance of telecommunications lines in the U.S. focuses on international gateways and landing points. Other reports have indicated that surveillance of the U.S. telecom network was used to gather only metadata under a program that the NSA says ended in 2011.

The Journal reporting demonstrates that the NSA, in conjunction with telecommunications companies, has built a system that can reach deep into the U.S. Internet backbone and cover 75% of traffic in the country, including not only metadata but the content of online communications. The report also explains how the NSA relies on probabilities, algorithms and filtering techniques to sift through the data and find information related to foreign intelligence investigations.

The New York Times reports on facial recognition to scan crowds:

The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.

The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

There have been stabs for over a decade at building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos.

The automated matching of close-up photographs has improved greatly in recent years, and companies like Facebook have experimented with it using still pictures.

But even with advances in computer power, the technical hurdles involving crowd scans from a distance have proved to be far more challenging. Despite occasional much-hyped tests, including one as far back as the 2001 Super Bowl, technical specialists say crowd scanning is still too slow and unreliable.

This facial recognition technology appears to be five years off from being fully workable. Of course the real fear of the misuse of these programs doesn’t come from technology reminiscent of Person of Interest but the potential misuse of the technology more reminiscent of  works by George Orwell and Franz Kafka.

 

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SciFi Weekend: SDCC Part 2–Avengers; Karen Gillan Bald for Guardians of the Galaxy; Captain America; X-Men; Superman and Batman; Doctor Who; Matt Smith as Bart Simpson; True Blood; Person of Interest; Revolution; Community; How I Met Your Mother; Veronica Mars

There was lots of news on the Marvel Cinematic Universe out of San Diego Comic Con–video of panel above. This includes the name of the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, and a bald Karen Gillan (head shaved for Guardians of the Galaxy).

Comic-Con International 2013 - Day 3

Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo were interviewed, explaining how Captain America: The Winter Soldier will bridge the two Avengers movies. Among other news is the report of star Chris Evans kissing Scarlett Johansson.

News on X-Men: Days of Futures Past is here.

The rumors of a combined Batman and Superman movie have been confirmed.

Matt Smith walked on the floor at Comic Con disguised at Bart Simpson (video above).

Steven Moffat says “we’re likely never going to see that final date night on Darillium with the Doctor and River Song, the one where he cries because he knows she’s going to die/get digitized on a library planet.”

The reason: Moffat’s too prude to put the Doctor and River in a room alone together. That said he might change his mind.

”I always felt that there were certain things between the Doctor and River that we should never see. So, I don’t know. He sort of said his goodbye in ‘The Name of the Doctor.’ There’s always the possibility, because it’s always out of sequence and you can do anything you like with that. It’s a tough one. I remember I wrote some extra scenes for the DVDs and all that we had available were Alex (actress Alex TK] and Matt, so I had to write scenes for the Doctor and River alone in the T.A.R.D.I.S. and I go, ‘Dear God, that’s the situation I’m always tring to avoid for obvious reasons.’ What does that woman do to him the moment the door is shut? What were they doing that night in Durillion. There are somet things surely the Time Lord must keep to himself.

“The implication is that she had met many more Doctors than just the two of them, so it’s always possible. But I quite liked the good bye in “The Name of the Doctor” and I think there should always be stuff that we never saw, and I don’t just mean that as a laugh.”

The above preview of the remainder of this season of True Blood was shown. There has been talk for a while that a major character would die this season and there does appear to be a funeral in these clips. Cast secrets revealed in these videos. The show has been renewed for another season. While the show has had its problems (including too many characters and story lines), I do see hope for improvement:

Executive Producer, Brian Buckner wants to bring the show back to its roots. While he acknowledges True Blood has a large cast, he wants to condense the number of stories they are telling and  ”really come home.” And as for bringing in new creatures, right now he thinks no. He believes the show is about vampires, humans and the town. And wants to bring that back.

The big news on Person of Interest is that, as I had been rooting for, Amy Acker will become a regular next season. Cast interviews here.

Despite all its flaws, Revolution keeps me curious enough to keep watching. A trailer for the second season is above. The cast and crew revealed spoilers regarding the cliff hanger at the end of the first season. From Tracy Spiradakos (Charlie):

“I can tell you that the bombs do drop, so there’s an aftermath to dealing with that.” Holy moly! Randall completed his mission in destroying Atlanta and Philadelphia, apparently, and the destruction of those cities will completely change the feel of the show. The militias will be broken up, the show that was once all about being on the road will now settle into a particular spot near Texas, characters will be more consistent, and the stories will have some room to breathe since people won’t be as busy running from Point A to Point B. Additionally, even though the power went on in the finale, there will be a time-jump of about three months, and you can expect that it will be shut off again pretty soon.”

More spoilers from this, and other reports: The power is off permanently and the Tower is no longer functional. The Patriots supporting the old United States government represent a serious threat which forces Miles and Monroe to work together.

Ronald Moore on Helix and Battlestar Galactica.

Dan Harmon interviewed about season 5 of Community in the video above. News includes the departure of Donald Glover.

News on the final season of How I Met Your Mother posted here. More news here including comments from the kids.

Kristen Bell suggests that Veronica Mars might continue after the upcoming movie, possibly on Netflix as a way to get around contractual restrictions on appearing in two television shows:

CNN: Is this film finally going to give you a sense of closure on “Veronica Mars”?

Bell: No. This could be my whole life. And by the way, what a lucky life it would be if it were. There’s no formula for it, because it just has never been done before. Except — and I’m just throwing it out there — “Star Trek” did it. They did a TV show and then nine movies. Who knows? Why can’t we make a couple films? Or continue to produce content of “Veronica Mars”? It gets tricky because television contracts legally only allow you to do one episode of a different show. They purchase you. I am now the face of “House of Lies.” So the only way I would be able to reprise Veronica Mars (on TV) is in movie form.

CNN: What about if it were on Netflix?

Bell: There are some loopholes that we are already investigating.

Earlier news from San Diego Comic Con was posted here.

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SciFi Weekend: Star Wars at Disney World; Lost Doctor Who Stories; Game of Thrones; Obama Cut From One Genre Show And Influenced Another; Emma Watson; Mad Men; True Blood; Dexter; Hannibal; Man of Steel

star-wars-theme-park

Disney makes it profits by using each of its holdings to promote its business. The theme parks promote the television shows, movies, and merchandise and vice versa. Disney has long  had an arrangement with Lucasfilms  with Star Tours at the Walt Disney Studios at Walt Disney World. Now that Disney owns the rights to the upcoming Star Wars movies, it is likely that there will be even more promotion in the parks. The latest rumors are of the addition of a Star Wars Land:

The logical places for that expansion would be on either side of the existing Star Tours ride. From what I’ve heard, it appears that the expansion would take out the area between Star Tours and the auto stunt show stadium, including the Muppet theater and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area. But I’ve also heard of consideration of going in the opposite direction, which would place the new land on the site of the Backlot Express restaurant and Indiana Jones stunt show theater. Given that the Indy theater’s used for several other events throughout the year, and that both the Muppets and Honey I Shrunk the Kids attractions long ago passed the height of their popularity, I’m hearing more forceful arguments for the first option.

This appears to be a five-year project, putting completion in 2018, though Disney could choose to throw money at it and accelerate it by a year.

I wonder if they will really disrupt much of what is already there as opposed to mixing more Star Wars throughout the park. It is common for Disney to mix up different things from different movies throughout their parks. Will they really get rid of Muppet Vision 3D and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids park? While perhaps not as major as The Great Movie Ride or Tower of Terror, I’ve always seen Muppet Vision 3D as one of the icons of the park. Besides, Disney still has plans for those Muppets, such as a live stage show. We are long past the prime for the movie version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and I could see them remove this exhibit, but it is the best item at the Walt Disney Studios Park for small children.

A Star Wars Cantina would probably be the major addition, but this could be added at various places if there is not room near Star Tours. Increased character involvement in parades and character meets would not require removal of older attractions.  Increased use of Star Wars might not even be limited to Disney Studios.  I wouldn’t put it past Disney to create an exhibit at Animal Kingdom with creatures from the Star Wars Universe or turn Spaceship Earth at Epcot into a replica of the Death Star in time for the release of Star Wars VII. There’s little doubt that the monorail will be used to promote the movies.

In case you are wondering why characters from the Marvel movies are not flooding the Disney theme parks, Universal still owns the theme park rights to these characters. In addition, the movie rights to some Marvel comic characters, such as Spiderman, are owned by other studios. Of course we sort of got to see Iron Man at Epcot in Iron Man 2. The Stark Expo was clearly built in the image of Epcot and the film of Tony’s father looked considerably like old footage of Walt Disney discussing his idea for Epcot.

Joss Whedon isn’t “going Nolan” with Avengers 2.

Bleeding Cool reports on rumors of more lost Doctor Who stories which have been found–an added surprise for the 50th anniversary. This might include the lost first regeneration story. (Update: This may be a hoax. Awaiting further information).

Den of Geek gives a round up of this week Matt Smith replacement rumors.

Jaime Graphic

Now that Game of Thrones has concluded its third season, here are some amusing info-graphics to help explain what is going on. One example above.

Here’s an update to the relationship chart from Person of Interest. While I was initially fearful the show would just use the Machine as a gimmick for a crime of the week show, they have certainly developed a complicated mythology over time.

UNDER THE DOME

An adaptation of Steven King’s novel, Under the Dome, sounds like it might be the biggest genre television show of the summer. Barack Obama was initially heard on the first episode but the scene was cut. They had used a clip from Obama’s speech following Hurricane Sandy but decided against using real life events:

President Obama has been left on the cutting room floor of CBS’ new summer series “Under the Dome.”

An audio clip of the president that was in the first hour of the series that CBS sent to critics earlier this month will be cut from the episode that will ultimately air, a CBS spokesman said. The show, based on a Stephen King book, is about a small town that for mysterious reasons becomes enclosed under a huge transparent dome.

In the scene, which comes at the end of the first hour, Obama is heard amid a slew of fake reports talking about what is going in the town. The audio of the president is actually from his remarks following Hurricane Sandy when he said the nation feels “profoundly for all the families whose lives have been upended. The most important message I have for them is that America is with you. We are standing behind you and we are going to do everything we can…”

Although the standards and practices department at CBS had approved the use, a decision was made to cut it anyway on Thursday. While use of audio from actual news events for a fictional TV show is not unusual, the network and producer Amblin Television decided that having these remarks from a real tragedy inserted in an entertainment show was inappropriate.

Emma Watson at the premiere of The Bling Ring in Los Angeles

 Emma Watson returns to fantasy movies, and Barack Obama’s name comes up once again:

Harry Potter star Emma Watson is returning to fantasy cinema after signing on to play the lead in “Game of Thrones-style” saga Queen of the Tearling, reports Variety.

Watson will play 19-year-old idealistic princess Kelsea Glynn, created by Erika Johansen after the author heard a 2007 speech by a pre-presidential Barack Obama. Johansen signed a seven-book deal in February and the first novel in the series is due next year. It is set three centuries after an environmental catastrophe, when a malevolent Red Queen reigns over the kingdom of the Tearling. Glynn must defeat the monarch to reclaim her deceased mother’s crown, and publishers have compared the tone of the series with that of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which is being adapted by US network HBO as Game of Thrones.

Despite the comparisons between Megan Draper and Sharon Tate, Matthew Weiner says that Megan will not die this season. After last week’s episode, the question has now become whether/when Megan will find out what Sally saw and how she will react.

True Blood returns tonight with a new show runner. This might be better because the show really needed a change in direction. On the other hand, we might wind up with the same show but with a show runner who isn’t as good as Alan Ball and have an even worse show.

Dexter returns June 30 and we meet the woman who helped Harry develop The Code. Will bringing in someone who could figure out what Dexter has been up to lead to his end?

Just one more episode to go this season on Hannibal. Lase week we saw how a comb could be turned into a murder weapon, and the murder of another recurring character looks likely. For those who haven’t been watching from the start, it was a very good show for binge watching and highly recommended.

Da Vinci’s Demons is less compelling but I have now made it through the second from last episode and will try to catch the finale this week. I might give up on Defiance after four episodes. Even though SyFy had hoped this would be the next big thing after Battlestar Galactica,  there is little in the show so far to promote any long term interest in what happens to the new town. Moving beyond genre, I just finished the first season of Mr. Selfridge from ITV, also broadcast by PBS on Masterpiece Classic. It is more soap opera than serious historical fiction and fans of Downton Abbey should enjoy it. The show was light and entertaining to watch, and did an excellent job of utilizing plot threads from throughout the season to set up its finale.

I couldn’t make it to Man of Steel this weekend and will limit coverage to this link on the movie (which also gets back to Chris Nolan’s Batman, as in one of the links above).

Have a Happy Captain Picard Day

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Agents of SHIELD; New & Returning Shows; Community; Person of Interest; The Newsroom

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Neil Gaiman’s second episode of Doctor Who, Nightmare in Silver, was weaker than his first episode, The Doctor’s Wife. Like so many  episodes this half-season, it wasn’t bad but came up short of what it might have been. The good thing about the episode is that Gaiman updated the backstory for the Cybermen which might be used in future episodes. He had less to say about the Doctor’s history than in The Doctor’s Wife except to reveal that it is foolish to try to beat the Doctor at Chess as The Timelords invented chess.

Gaiman accelerated the trend of making the Cybermen more like the Borg. (There has also been speculation that the Borg were originally based upon the Cybermen but I have never seen confirmation of this). Instead of assimilation, they upgrade. They upgrade humans, and now other species, with cybermites, and upgrade themselves to counter attacks. One problem with the episode was that upgrades were only used for dramatic effect in limited circumstances. The Cybermen upgraded to be faster, but in most scenes they continued to move slowly.

These Cybermen were shown to be far more dangerous. They are so dangerous that the standard reaction to finding one a a planet is to destroy the entire planet. Even an entire galaxy was destroyed to prevent the Cybermen from advancing. The problem with making an enemy this powerful is that ending each episode by imploding the planet would be tedious, and having the Doctor repeatedly defeat them in under an hour would be unrealistic–sort of how the Borg gradually changed from an unbeatable force when introduced on Star Trek The Next Generation to a race easily defeated by a lone starship on Voyager.

Warwick Davies stole the show as Porridge, later revealed to be Emperor Ludins Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff the 41st. It was unrealistic for the Emperor to just happen to be hiding on this planet, but now that the Doctor has met him it would be a shame for the two not to meet up again.

The episode has the obligatory (this season) homage to past Doctors with images of them displayed. There’s more to come next week, including a scene with Bessie driving by. There were not any obvious clues to the Clara mystery but Clara did learn that the Doctor considers her to be the impossible girl. We should be getting the answers next week, with this prequel released leading into The Name of the Doctor:

A Radio Times interview with Neil Gaiman is posted here. Gaiman’s interview with the official Doctor Who site is here.  Blastr has the story of how Steven Moffat got Neil Gaiman to update the Cybermen and make them scary.

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

The Doctor found a BAFTA in the TARDIS (video above). There is also more at the awards ceremony to honor Doctor Who:

Doctor Who is to be honoured with a special tribute to be shown at Sunday’s BAFTA television award ceremony.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will be marking the programme’s 50th Anniversary year by showing a video montage celebrating the long history of the show.

Current companion Jenna-Louise Coleman will also attend the ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London and will present one of the night’s awards.

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said:

There are only a handful of programmes that have the quality and longevity of Doctor Who and the ability to put the nation on their sofas – or indeed behind them – year after year. BAFTA raises a toast to Doctor Who on its 50th birthday this year.

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said the production team would be sending Daleks to patrol the red carpet:

This is a massive and exciting year for Doctor Who, so I’m thrilled that BAFTA are including a special tribute to the show. So thrilled, in fact, we’re sending the Doctor’s best friend, Jenna Coleman, to present an award. We’re also sending the Doctor’s worst enemy, the Daleks, to exterminate lots of innocent people. Sorry, it’s just what they do. Let us know if it’s a Health and Safety issue.

Doctor Who won the main BAFTA award for Best Drama Series in 2006 and has won many BAFTA Craft Awards since the series returned in 2005.

Watch out for spoilers this week. An error was made and some Blu-Ray sets with The Name of the Doctor has been shipped early and some copies of the episode are starting to appear on line. Some people are intentionally spoiling the show on Twitter so be careful in reading messages in response to mentioning Doctor Who.

Speaking of spoilers,  John Hurt may have revealed his role in the 50th Anniversary episode:

Mr Hurt, who lives near Cromer, earlier told the EDP he had just finished shooting a Dr Who 3D special in which he plays “part of the Doctor” in a “kind of trinity” which includes David Tennant.

Not surprisingly, ABC has picked up Agents of SHIELD, along with additional genre shows for next season. More on the cast of Agents of SHIELD here. Defiance and Revolution have both been renewed. In the overkill department, Once Upon A Time is both returning and getting a spin-off. Blastr has a run down of eleven new genre shows.24 might return as a 12 or 13 episode mini-series. Does this mean that the story will take place in real time over a shorter period of time or that the show will move faster than real time?

Community - Season 4

Community was also picked up for a fifth season and there are some rumors that Dan Harmon might return. (I’m not holding my breath, but hope it is true.) Chevy Chase is gone, and he was not missed in the episodes where he did not appear at all or only had minor roles. The finale showed once again that show runners David Guarascio and Moses Port may be sincere in their desire to continue the creative ideas of Dan Harmon but just do not understand how to carry this out.

Compare the season finale, Advanced Introduction to Finality, with Basic Human Anatomy, the episode written by Jim Rash which most critics consider the best of the season. The finale brought back The Darkest Timeline with a story which was ridiculous on so many levels. It centered around the impossible situation of people crossing over from The Darkest Timeline with the use of paint ball in a story which didn’t make much sense even if you accept this. Then it ended by revealing it all to be Jeff’s daydream. A daydream (if the story was good) would be fine as part of a story. It might have even worked earlier in the season, but the finale should not be almost entirely a day dream (especially when the dream storyline wasn’t all that good).

Dan Harmon would have been more subtle with the use of an alternative time line, as with Jim Rash with the body swaps in Basic Human Anatomy. If there were true body swaps, or if it was all a dream, I doubt the story would have worked. Instead Rash had characters behave as if they had swapped bodies to reveal more about the characters. Troy acted as Abed because he couldn’t cope with a relationship he is too immature to handle. Abed reciprocated by acting as if he was Troy to end the relationship. Of course we know why the Dean pretended to change bodies with Jeff. The flashing lights weren’t magic but just someone flipping the switches. While not plausible, it was all possible.

Next season is expected to pick up with the remaining members of the study group in their final semester. Jeff and Pierce have graduated. Presumably Pierce is gone forever, but they now have a more difficult job of getting Jeff into the episodes when he should no longer be at the study group’s table. Perhaps they will come up with another reason why Jeff needs another class, but that would make last season appear even lamer in retrospect.

Person of Interest finale

Person of Interest concluded the season with a strong two-part episode which more firmly establishes the show as science fiction. In earlier episodes the machine was simply a gimmick to set up a more conventional crime show of the week, but now the machine is an integral part of the show. Plus Amy Acker was back and Sarah Shahi is an excellent addition to the show. In some ways the show reminds me of Fringe, which gradually set up its mythology in earlier stand-alone episodes.

Aaron Sorkin’s show, The Newsroom, returns on July 14, with changes made to hopefully fix some of the problems from the first season. A promo video is below:

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Merlin; Iron Man 3; Avengers; SHIELD; True Blood; Gillian Anderson; Person of Interest; The Americans; Firefly

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The Crimson Horror is perhaps the sweetest episode of Doctor Who ever, and starts out without the Doctor. The episode provides a vehicle for two sets of characters: 1) Jenny, Vastra & Strax and 2) characters played by Diana Rigg and her real-life daughter Rachael Stirling. This is the first time that the mother-daughter combination have ever worked together. Bringing back Jenny, Vastra, and Strax also helps with the continuity of the season. Jenny even had a scene which reminded me of Diana Rigg’s old  character Emma Peal from The Avengers, combining the two sets. Victorian England episodes tend to have the most realistic look of episodes taking place in different places or times. Undoubtedly appropriate sets and costumes are easiest to obtain.

The Doctor, and even later Clara, don’t become involved until later, but their absence in the early portions of the episode is handled well. There was a far better payoff to find that the Doctor was the monster when we did not see what happened to him until later. We were brought up to date by a sepia-toned sequence which gives the information viewers need without taking  time to provide excess detail.  Going through the earlier aspects of the Doctor’s involvement in a condensed manner was also helpful because Mark Gatiss had so much going on this episode that he already had to wrap it up too quickly. This would have worked better as a Sherlock-length story.

Being Doctor Who, there are invariably some things which seem unbelievable even if we believe in the Time Lords and the rest of the mythology surrounding the Doctor. It is hard to believe that a rocket of this type could have been built back in that era. The kid, Thomas, who sounded like my phone’s GPS raising further questions. I suspect this one might be cleared up in the season finale when we return to the Doctor’s friends. (As I also went to see Iron Man 3 Saturday night after watching Doctor Who, it was a big night for kids getting into the action.)

The reference to past Doctors was more subtle this week. When the Doctor wound up in Yorkshire instead of London he mentioned his past difficulties in making it to the right place, including problems getting an  Australian to Heathrow, referring to the fifth Doctor and Tegan. I suspect that I missed the meaning of some of the references to Yorkshire versus London which would mean more to those living in the U.K.

When Clara returned home, the kids she cares for had found old pictures of her, demonstrating her travels in time. It is highly unlikely for either these pictures to exist and for the kids to realize they are of Clara (as opposed to someone who might look like her) but this was probably done for two reasons. First Clara was surprised by seeing a picture of her from London where this Clara has not been. Secondly this was probably done to lead into next week’s episode, Nightmare in Silver, which includes the kids. I wouldn’t be all that upset if the kids wind up being assimilated by the Cybermen (who have been looking increasingly like the Borg). Nightmare in Silver will reportedly also include stock footage of William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee.

Quote of the episode: “I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m going to stop you.”

The Behind the Scenes video is above

Jenny, Vastra & Strax will be returning in the season finale, The Name Of The Doctor. The episode will also include River Song, post-library. Here’s the official synopsis:

“Every journey taken by a time-traveller tears a wound in the fabric of reality, and the Doctor has time-travelled more than anyone. But the trail runs cold in Trenzalore, the one place in all of time and space that he should never go. The most dangerous place in the universe…

This quote from the episode was also released:

“The path I carved through time and space, from Gallifrey to Trenzalore. My own personal time tunnel, leading back to every moment I ever lived. Every step, every tear, every kiss. Even the days I haven’t lived yet. Which is why I shouldn’t be here. The paradoxes… very bad…”

Trenzalore has been linked with the fall of the eleventh and thought to mean the time when the eleventh Doctor regenerates. If we are to see the fall of the eleventh it must mean something different. Moffat says someone will die in the episode. As they are only seen occasionally, they could easily kill off one of the three Victorian detectives. As this is a p0st-library River, she can also die. Considering that the Doctor and River meet in a mixed up order, this wouldn’t prevent the Doctor from running into River in the future, at an earlier point in her time line.

David Tennant will be the only former Doctor on the 50th Anniversary episode but there will be an  homage to the very first episode of the series, An Unearthly Child.

The Guardian has an interview with Steven Moffat here.

One of the more implausible scenes in The Angels Take Manhattan was having the Statue of Liberty, as a Weeping Angel, travel across Manhattan. Among the many problems raised by this scene is the question of how the Statue of Liberty could make it very far since Angels freeze if anyone is watching. Most fans probably just let this pass as a good scene regardless of whether plausible. Steven Moffat has now provided an explanation (but I’m not sure this is any more plausible):

“The Angels can do so many things. They can bend time, climb inside your mind, hide in pictures, steal your voice, mess with your perception, leak stone from your eye… New York in 1938 was a nest of Angels and the people barely more than farm animals. The abattoir of the lonely assassins!

“In those terrible days, in that conquered city, you saw and understood only what the Angels allowed, so Liberty could move and  hunt as it wished, in the blink of an eye, unseen by the lowly creatures upon which it preyed. Also, it tiptoed.”

I’ll go with “it tiptoed.”

It has been ages since I finished watching Merlin by downloading episodes, but they have just resumed broadcasting the final episodes in the United States. While much of the final season was weaker than earlier seasons, the final few episodes did provide an excellent finale for the series. There has been talk of a movie version of MerlinColin Morgan is moving on to other projects and isn’t interested in playing Merlin again.

As Iron Man 3 breaks box office records, there is lots of attention on the future of the Marvel movie universe. There are conflicting reports as to whether there will be an Iron Man 4. I don’t think I am spoiling anything by saying that Iron Man 3 could easily serve as a conclusion of a trilogy, or the lead in for the probable future movies.   Robert Downey, Jr. has even left open the possibility of appearing in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and will most likely return to The Avengers 2. The next Avengers movie reportedly will add Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These reports must be taken cautiously as there is the possibility of characters winding up on the cutting room floor at this stage.

Above is the trailer for True Blood Season 6 which returns on June 16. Humans are fighting back, which provides for a change from previous seasons. I hope that this, plus a new show runner, solves some of the problems plaguing recent seasons.

Gillian Anderson of The X-Files is appearing in a five part thriller for the BBC 2 entitled The Fall. A review can be found here.

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I’ve been undecided as to whether to consider Person of Interest true science fiction or a mystery series with a science fiction element. The two-part season finale, which we are in the middle of, moves the series much further towards science fiction as the machine takes on a more active role beyond spitting out the numbers. Plus there’s the return of Amy Acker.

The Americans ended the season well. I’m glad they avoided a true cliff hanger. As we can assume Elizabeth will recover from her injuries, the finale leads us back pretty close to how the series began. Besides the danger of being exposed by their FBI agent neighbor, their daughter Paige is becoming suspicious. After having viewers root for having Claudia reassigned, I bet most changed their mind during the finale. Margo Martindale has been cast in a comedy pilot so the episode leaves open the options of her leaving or Philip and Elizabeth plausibly requesting that the decision be reversed. Show runners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg discussed the finale with Salon.

With Netflix bringing back Arrested Development, there has been hope that they might bring back some genre shows such as Firefly which didn’t survive more conventional television runs.   Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, gave this reason for not remaking Firefly:

“Let me give you one broad statement about these recovery shows. In almost every case the cult around the show gets more intense and smaller as time goes by. Arrested Development was the rarest of birds in that the audience of the show grew larger than the original broadcast audience because people came to discover it years after it was canceled. The Firefly fan is still the Firefly fan from when it was on TV and there’s fewer of them and they’re more passionate every year. Whereas with Arrested Development we’re going to be serving a multiple of the original audience. Any of the other shows we could bring back would be a fraction of the original audience.”A

Arrested Development probably would have more viewers than Firefly, but I don’t buy his explanation. I think that many others interested in this are more like me. I didn’t watch Firefly when it was on, but did buy the CD’s due to all the buzz after it was off the air.  I’m not super-passionate about the show, but I did enjoy it and if Firefly came back I would watch. I bet many other people have become fans after the initial run ended, providing for a larger audience in a remake than was present when on the air. Besides, Joss Whedon is now one of the hottest (perhaps the hottest) names in entertainment right now. I don’t think anything with his name attached should be ignored.

Other possibilities I’d suggest would be The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which ended at a point which begs for a conclusion, and Jericho which has some similarities to Revolution but did it much better.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and Daleks; Community and Inspector Spacetime; Sherlock as Cartoon; Person of Interest; The Americans; Utopia; Downton Abbey; Batwoman’s Gay Marriage; Captain America

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Steven Moffat discussed the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who in a recent interview. Doctor Who returns March 30 with the final eight episodes of the season. Next fall we will have the 50th Anniversary episode (which will also be in 3D and released at movie theaters). In addition there will be the usual Christmas episode and An Adventure in Space and Time about the making of Doctor Who. This would still leave us with less Doctor Who than last fall, but Moffat does say there will be even more than these shows.

Ray Cusick who designed the look of the Daleks in 1963, died at last week at age 84.

The video above has an interview with Jenna-Louise Coleman on The Last Leg.

Last week’s episode of Community  featured a trip to an Inspector Spacetime convention and ended with how an American version of this Doctor Who parody would appear, after the producers received advice from Pierce. Here’s another take on how an American version of Doctor Who might have turned out.

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Angela Taratuta has re-imagined Sherlock as a cartoon series with pictures such as the one above.

Revolution returns on March 25. NBC is launching a prequel web series tomorrow which starts eleven years after the blackout:

In this webseries, premiering Feb. 25 on NBC.com, we flashback to 11 years after the blackout and the night Miles (Billy Burke) first tried to assassinate Gen. Monroe (David Lyons). The story will follow Capt. Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) on a mission to hunt down and kill and those who had a hand in the attempt to assassinate Monroe. While on his journey, however, Neville will apparently stumble “upon an even greater conspiracy that could change the course of the Republic forever,” according to a description.

Person of Interest Relevance

Person of Interest had an excellent episode, Relevance, in which we saw the machine used as intended. There was another team receiving numbers from the machine to fight actual terrorist threats, but they believed the information came from more conventional sources. They went after people found by the machine to be relevant, as opposed to the cases investigated by Finch and Reese not involving terrorism, and therefore considered irrelevant. One member of the team started to get too close to what is actually going on so both were set up to be killed. The female member of the team, Shaw, survived, with a little help from Reese after Shaw and her partner came up as the new numbers for Finch and Reese.

Shaw is quite a fighter on her own, and stated she has an “Axis II personality disorder,” meaning  she “doesn’t really feel anything” when she kills people. Her best moment was when she showed she was still a loyal soldier in fighting terrorism and also remained determined to avenge the killing of her partner. “A good soldier does both.” She initially refused to take Finch’s card, but later agreed after they saved her from poisoning, leaving her old superiors believing she was dead.

Shaw will make a welcome addition to the reoccurring cast of Person of Interest (assuming this as she was too good a character to only use once). Making the episode even better, Amy Acker  returned to reprise her role as Root (actually starting in the final moments of last week’s episode). Now, besides the team of Finch and Reese, we have the group involved in using the machine to fight terrorism as part of the show, with these people portrayed as both being engaged in an important task and as being somewhat evil. Having them infiltrated by Root will make matters even more interesting.

The Americans

FX has renewed The Americans for a second season. The series is about Soviet spies embedded in the United States during the Reagan years. Last week was their best episode to date, taking place at the time of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. The Russians were worried about whether the attempt would be pinned on the KGB. Some of the Russians also were concerned that generals led by Alexander Haig were carrying out a coup following Haig’s “I am in control” statement.

Utopia completed its first season last week, and hopefully will receive a second season. While not reducing my recommendations to watch the entire series or my hope for a second season, the first season finale was not up to the level of previous episodes. It was probably harder to write this episode because it had less mystery many of the secrets of the first season already revealed but also having to keep some things unresolved for second season. Major spoiler in the rest of this paragraph: I did have one problem with the explanations in the finale. If the manuscript didn’t really matter and the search was all to get Jessica out in the open, what were they doing with the interrogation of Grant and what did that chemical diagram mean? Perhaps the explanation to Jessica wasn’t entirely honest and there was information on recreating Janus to be found in case Jessica wasn’t captured.

The BBC has canceled The Hour after its second season. Hypable explains why you should watch the show despite being cancelled.

As expected following the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey, Lily James will become a regular member of the cast next season. With two members of the cast dying last season, her addition serves much the same purpose of Lesley Anne-Down joining Upstairs Downstairs as Miss Georgina. Vulture gave several reasons why ITV and PBS won’t both broadcast the show at the same time. I was especially interested in this point:

Editing episodes for PBS more quickly would also be more costly.
The version of Downton that airs in the U.K. is slightly different than the one that airs in the U.S. ITV is a commercial network that ran season three over eight installments, while commercial-free PBS ran the same season in just six. That requires some “stitching together and filling out” for the American version, Hoppe says. And because the editing is done entirely by the creative team in the U.K., “what it would mean in order for us to go simultaneously with them is that we’d have to have two editing rooms going at the same time during postproduction, one for our version and one for theirs,” Hoppe says. “It’s not one of the main factors in the decision, but it’s not an insignificant financial implication.”

I downloaded the series when it first aired on ITV and then, based upon following media stories, the series seemed to go by much faster when aired on PBS. This explains that it really did go by faster, with fewer episodes in the US. I wonder if some things were taken out of the US version. For example, there hasn’t been much discussion in the United States about the arc involving the Dalek invasion of Downton.

The Saturn Award nominations have been released–full list here.

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Batwoman is entering into a same-sex marriage but Alyssa Rosenberg says this  portrayal of a gay marriage is not enough to make up for DC hiring homophobe Orson Scott Card:

Something I wish I’d said more clearly the first itme I wrote about DC’s decision to hire Card to write Superman is that calls to fire him don’t appeal to me that strongly because it separates out his hiring from DC’s other hiring practices, which among other things, have produced a staff with very few women and no lead African-American writers on any comics titles. A decision by comics stores not to stock the title, demonstrating that Card’s values turn them off from a product that otherwise might have been profitable for them, makes more sense. And what would be most interesting to me is an explanation from DC about what process lead to Card’s selection. What made his pitches’ stronger than other writers? How did they weigh the likely publicity challenges from his employment against what appears to be a larger institutional imperative to modernize the brand by telling stories about committed gay couples? If DC Comics wants its image to be gay-friendly, then it should have been expected to be evaluated for consistency. More same-sex engagements doesn’t eliminate the appearance of a glaring contradiction in DC’s image.

If all DC wants is our money, rather than our social approval, that’s fine. But it needs to recognize that fishing for money on the grounds that it’s producing progressive and game-changing content is going to be a more difficult task if there’s a disconnect between what the content is, and who the money spent on it ends up going to.

The next Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, will differ from the first, and from The Avengers, in being more of a political thriller according to Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios:

The challenge is not the number of projects but rather making sure that each is a fresh take on the genre. Being able to populate the films with rich, three-dimensional characters and employing a wealth of storylines that have been developed over the decades in print makes it much easier to pull off, Feige says.

And when it all comes together, the results are boffo: “The Avengers” was one of 2012′s most popular pics, according to Rottentomatoes.com, and with more than $620 million in ticket sales it was the year’s box office champ by a large margin.

As long as Marvel stays on its game, Feige believes its pics will continue to do well in a genre that is far from a passing trend.

“If it is a fad, it’s one that lasts 30 to 40 years, as the Western did, because each one is so different,” he says. “There’s an opportunity to graft almost sub-genres onto them. Our first Captain America film was a World War II picture, and the next is a political thriller. They all have their own textures and patinas, and that’s what is exciting about it.”

 

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SciFi Weekend: Star Wars; Batman; Battlestar Galactica; Who Killed JR?; Mad Men and Other Returning Shows; S.H.I.E.L.D.; Doctor Who Meets Inspector Spacetime

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The big science fiction news of the week is that J.J. Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars movie. I think it is a good idea for J.J. Abrams to direct the Star Wars movie. His tendency to destroy entire planets (Romulus, Vulcan) fits in better with Star Wars and Death Star than Star Trek.

There are reports that they might wait until 2017 to reboot Batman. There is also speculation that the cast of Justice League of America, scheduled for a 2015 release, will be cut down to five, leaving out Batman until he is rebooted in his own movie. Other rumors say that plans continue to reintroduce Batman in Justice League but possibly leave out Aquaman. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in getting the Michael Keaton Batman movies on Blu-Ray, I found they were much less expensive when purchased as part of a Michael Keaton Collection (recently discounted even further on Amazon) than as stand-alone Batman movies.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome was turned into a web series after SyFy decided against picking it up as a weekly series. They will be televising this as a movie on February 10.

Dallas returns tomorrow night, starting with the final episodes filmed before the death of Larry Hagman. Considering all the publicity the show obtained in its original run with the mystery of Who Shot JR?, it only makes sense that JR Ewing will leave the series by being murdered as opposed to dying of natural causes. They should be able to keep this mystery, and other references to JR Ewing, part of the show for quite a long time.

Colin Morgan won the award for Best Drama Performance at the National Television Awards for his portrayal of Merlin.

Doctor Who returns on March 30 with Game of Thrones returning the following night.

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Mad Men returns on April 7 with a two hour season premier. More pictures like above here. The upcoming season will include more of Betty Draper but January Jones will not be returning as Emma Frost to X-Men Days of Futures Past . Elisabeth Moss was surprised her character left Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce last season and cannot say what Peggy will be doing in the upcoming season.

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While January Jones won’t be returning to X-Men, Anna Paquin (Rogue), Ellen Page (Kitty Pride) will be returning in these roles.

I was initially concerned that Person of Interest would be about independent stories every week, but over time an increasingly convoluted back story has developed. If you are having as much trouble as I am keeping track of everything, the chart here will either help or confuse matters further.

Filming is starting on S.H.I.E.L.D. Cobie Smulders will be reprising her role as Maria Hill despite continuing on How I Met Your Mother for another season.

Downton Abbey is casting for a new suitor for a character in Season 4. If you saw Season 3, or heard how it end, you will know who. If you do not know, don’t follow this link.

Office Documentary Crew

After nine years the documentary crew is being introduced into the cast of The Office. Will they have a plausible explanation as to why they have been covering this office for nine years?

Emma Stone Nearly Naked.

Doctor Who meets Inspector Spacetime:

Doctor Who Meets Inspector Spacetime

 

 

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SciFi Weekend: Some Answers on Fringe; Avengers; SHIELD; Star Wars; Dexter; Awards; White House Response On Petition To Build The Death Star; Grammar Dalek; Dark Knight Trilogy In Three Minutes

Fringe Olivia Walter

This week’s episode of Fringe, The Boy Must Live, was the final episode before Friday’s two hour series finale. After enduring years of episodes which offered more questions than answers, this episode did reveal a lot about September/Donald, the Observers, and the child Observer, Michael. September was punished for his assistance to the Bishops by Biological Reinversion–being turned back into a normal human. Donald explained how the Observers became the way they are by generic engineering (in addition to the device seen earlier this season). The key moment comes in 2167 when a scientist in Norway finds that removing jealousy from humans would leave room for greater intelligence. Further emotions were later removed to provide for even greater intelligence. Of course we have seen examples showing that at least some Observers still have some emotions.

Once humans lost emotions, test tubes replaced sex to create future generations. Michael was an anomaly who possessed both advanced intelligence and emotions. His genetic material came from September, who showed emotions himself in forming a bond with this son and saved him, analogous to Walter saving Peter.

September has been keeping a notebook of his observations of humans. This is actually being released as a book on March 12.

For beings of supposedly great intelligence, Observers often appear to have difficulty communicating. When September met Walter after saving Peter, when he said “the boy must live” he was referring not to Peter (the boy present at the time) but to Michael (a boy who Walter had no knowledge of at the time). While September sees time differently, it still makes little sense for him to have said this to Walter at this time without further explanation. September also showed questionable intelligence, even if reinverted to a human, when he wired his apartment to explode but included a warning light allowing other Observers to escape.

Finding the real meaning of “the boy must live” does clear up the question of why the Observers eliminated Peter’s existence in our timeline in a previous season if he was so important. I had previously rationalized this as representing different priorities for September and the other Observers.

Donald’s plan was to send Michael to 2167 to show that it is possible to have advanced intelligence without eliminating emotion. The scavenger hunt of the season to date has been to accumulate supplies needed for a time machine, with Donald conveniently having access to additional material needed. The idea is that, seeing Michael, the scientist would go down a different road and not eliminate emotion. The hope is that this would keep the Observers from coming back in time and waging war against humanity. When in human history have emotions kept a group from going to war?

The episode foreshadows two ideas which have been common in fan discussion of the final season–sacrifice and resetting time. Peter even suggested to Olivia that if they could reset time and prevent the invasion they could have Etta back. However, if the Observers were changed this might mean that Walter might have never succeeded in bringing Peter over from the other earth and he might have never lived and met Olivia. On the other hand, this might not be an issue in the world of Fringe, where Peter already returned once after he ceased to exist in our timeline. Michael also gave Walter memories of Peter from the previous timeline, making it even more tragic if the two do not both remain alive after the Observers are defeated.

I also wonder if raising the need for sacrifice and resetting the timeline in this episode served as misdirection, with one or both points not being true once we see how the dilemma is resolved.

The episode ended with another mystery as Michael voluntarily surrendered himself to the Observers. I wonder if he doesn’t have yet another plan which will allow him to destroy the Observers while he appears to be their prisoner.

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Joss Whedon says Avengers 2 will be deeper, not bigger. He also will begin shooting on the pilot for his S.H.I.E.L.D. series in the near future. Reportedly the series takes place after the events of The Avengers, but there also reports that Clark Gregg will reprise his role of Agent Phil Coulson in the pilot, creating some questions.

ABC is also considering a live action Star Wars television series.

Person of Interest had another strong episode this week. Prisoner’s Dilemma ties the recent arc in which Reese was captured into has back story. He’s now in the hands of his old partner, Kara Stanton, and I have no idea what she is up to.

Showtime had an awesome Sunday night line up with both Dexter and Homeland. They are moving up Dexter’s’ eight, and probably final, season to June 30 so that the popularity of both Dexter and Homeland can be used to develop other shows.

The Oscar nominations came out without much attention to genre movies. Some genre movies are competing for Visual Effects. The nominees are The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, Prometheus, and Snow White and the Huntsman. Life of Pi also was nominated for Best Picture. There are some additional nominations for genre movies, but only in minor categories.  Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role on Sherlock at the Golden Globe Awards tonight.

The White House has denied the petition to build the Death Star, and showed a sense of humor with this response:

Official White House Response to Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

That’s ok with me if they don’t build the Death Star. I’m far more interested in the more recent proposal to build the Starship Enterprise.

Grammar Dalek

T-shirt available here, based upon this cartoon.

The Dark Knight Trilogy is condensed to only three minutes in the video above.  I’m afraid the experience is not the same as watching the full movies.

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