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.

SciFi Weekend: Revolution Finale; Doctor Who; Star Wars; SHIELD; Once Upon A Time; Hannibal; The Fall; Game of Thrones

Zak-Orth-and-Elizabeth-Mitchell-in-Revolution-The-Dark-Tower

Revolution concluded its first season with what was essentially a two-part finale. They reached the Tower and found multiple excuses for changes in alliances and lots of fights. There were far too many implausible aspects to the story to discuss, including a drainage system several levels underground which leads to the outside and a door which was built to stand up to nuclear attack but which was easily penetrated when in door fights were on the filming schedule.

Aaron, the Google Guy, turns out to have written the operating system for the Tower as a student and it was sold to the Department of Defense, making it easy to turn the world’s electricity back on near the end. Remarkably the lights in buildings around the world are still on and waiting, with all wiring still intact. The president of the Georgia Republic calls on her staff to get their tanks and helicopters ready now that they have power. Was she collecting them in the years with no power anticipating such a moment?

Nora was killed off to make room for a Rachel/Myles romance with a triangle too complicated a concept for this show. Sawyer might also reunite with Juliet. I’m not sure how Grace fits into this, being with those guarding the Tower after having been captured.

Randal apparently has been planning for this moment all along, even though he never gave any indication of wanting to get to the Tower until Monroe found out about it. As he was surprised that the security system didn’t allow him in, it isn’t clear why he didn’t just go there earlier on his own or with allies (considering how many back doors there appear to be). He then revealed a rather drastic plan of launching ICBM’s towards Philadelphia and Atlanta and then shooting himself. He says he is a patriot and you can’t have a house divided against itself. Apparently only these two areas are considered a threat to the old United States government which is in hiding at Gitmo and now planning to return.

Presumably having the guy who wrote the operating system will allow them to take control and prevent the ICBM’s from hitting their targets. Perhaps this will cause the electricity to go off again. Or maybe they will even allow for Philadelphia and/or Atlanta to get destroyed and center the story in other parts of the country. While it is a plus that the story keeps advancing, one problem with the show is that nothing really seems to matter. We have a setting with the United States destroyed. Add a city or two which are bombed, or have the electricity on or off. The show just is not well written enough to really make me care about these outcomes (but does have me curious enough to keep watching despite all the faults in the show).

Queen TARDIS

If you read the speculation and rumors on line it seems like everyone except Steven Moffat and Jenna-Louise Coleman know which actor (or actress) will play the Doctor when Matt Smith leaves. Supposedly Wil Wheaton knows. Today The Telegraph claims the part was offered to Rory Kinnear, who denies any knowledge of this.

Jenna-Louise Coleman  got to meet the Queen and discuss time travel with her.

Before Guardians of the Galaxy (and after Doctor Who), Karen Gillan is staring in the romantic comedy Not Another Happy Ending. Trailer above.

J.J. Abrams discussed plans for Star Wars Episode VII:

Abrams spoke in only general terms about how he’ll approach the latest “Star Wars” and would not comment when Hudlin pressed him on whether the film will be derived from any of the “Star Wars” novels.

“It is so massive and so important to people,” he said. “I think the key to moving forward on something like this is honoring but not revering what came before.”

Star Wars fans might be wary after how Abrams handled Star Trek. Destroying Vulcan did not revere what came before, and I don’t think it was honoring it either. At least Abrams couldn’t possibly do as much harm to the franchise as Lucas did with the three prequel movies.  Time will tell whether more Star Wars is a good thing, but sometimes it is best to stick with a classic as opposed to trying to turn one into a series of less successful movies. It is possible that Star Wars might wind up the best if left as a classic trilogy.

New promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. above. Samuel L. Jackson has expressed interest in guest staring. It would be a good way to enhance continuity between the show and the Marvel movies. More about the Whedon universe from an  interview with Joss here. Cast interviews here.

Once Upon A Time’s audience is probably not primarily hard core genre fans, but with so many genre shows being canceled or ending their run it is now one of the most successful currently on network television. Here’s some news on how season three begins.

At times I think Hannibal is plotting to destroy Will, seeing him as a threat, but this week it looks like he wants Will for a friend. I also think that having Hannibal for a friend can turn out to be quite dangerous.

One of the many reasons to watch Hannibal is that Gillian Anderson appears on the show as Hannibal’s psychiatrist. It is a minor role which won’t completely satisfy Scully fans, but more of Gillian Anderson can be seen in The Fall. After hearing favorable things about this BBC 2 show I decided to watch this weekend and was pleasantly surprised to find that Netflix has the entire series even though the finale has not yet aired in the U.K. The series trailer is above.

The show involves a serial killer, whose identity is revealed from the start, with Gillian Anderson’s character brought in to handle the case. The concept certainly isn’t anything new, but it is handled very well. In a review after the third episode, The Telegraph calls this the sexiest show on TV:

It’s taken a while but, at last, British TV cop drama has caught up with The Killing. As DS Stella Gibson in The Fall (BBC Two), Gillian Anderson gives us our own incarnation of Denmark’s Sarah Lund: cold, distant, brilliant, flawed but, above all, crackling with sex.

In fact, The Fall is the sexiest show on TV at the moment, which isn’t what you’d expect from BBC Two on a Monday. It’s also the most contrary: we’ve known from the outset, two weeks ago, that Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) is the killer. This is a whydunit, and a canhegetawaywithit, not a whodunit.

Unless British television is devoid of sexy situations I doubt this is really the sexiest show on television. It does go further than American network television can, and at least this characterization demonstrates that it isn’t just a dull police procedural. I am happy they already announced renewal for a second season as they leave a lot of things hanging in the finale (which airs tomorrow on BBC 2 and is already up on Netflix). The season ends with a change in the interplay between Gillian Anderson’s character and the serial killer, but things are far from resolved. After Doctor Who and Sherlock, this is now the British show I’m most anxiously waiting for the next season of. (Even more so than Utopia)

Continuum has been renewed for a third season.

Last week’s Game of Thrones was quite a shock for those of us who have not read the books. George R.R. Martin discussed the historical roots of the Red Wedding here. More at Entertainment Weekly.

 

SciFi Weekend: Matt Smith Leaving Doctor Who–The Fall of the 11th on Trenzalore; Karen Gillan Gets Marvel Movie Role; Hannibal Renewed; Dan Harmon Returning To Community; Revolution Finale; Is Megan Draper Sharon Tate?; RIP (And Return Soon) Selena Kyle

Times Matt Smith

The big genre news of the week was also front page news on many newspapers. After months of rumors that this would be his last season, Matt Smith has announced that he will not be returning to Doctor Who after the upcoming 50th Anniversary episode and Christmas episode:

“Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

“Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven – he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before.

“Your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number 11, who I might add is not done yet – I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special.

“It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the Tardis for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.”

This makes me wonder if we will really see how the fall of the Doctor plays out on Trenzalore and to what degree his final two episodes are a continuation of the story started in The Name of the Doctor. As Moffat has said that John Hurt will return in the eighth season, this episode might have long lasting ramifications.

Steven Moffat had this to say about Smith: “Great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break as we say goodbye to number 11. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.” Smith won several awards for his role:

Smith has been nominated for nine different awards over his time on “Doctor Who,” winning three of them — two SFX awards in 2011 and 2012, and a National Television Award in 2012. Smith was the first actor in “Doctor Who” to be nominated for a BAFTA, which he earned in 2011.

There has been immediate speculation as to the next actor to play the Doctor. Bookmakers are already setting odds. Per Steven Moffat: “A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again. After 50 years, that’s still so exciting.”

The 11 Doctors

1. William Hartnell (1963-1966)

2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

4. Tom Baker (1974-1981)

5. Peter Davison (1982-1984)

6. Colin Baker (1984-1986)

7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996)

8. Paul McGann (1996)

9. Christopher Eccleston (2005)

10. David Tennant (2005-2010)

11. Matt Smith (2010 – 2013)

While the most likely choice will be from one of many British actors, who may or may not be on lists of possibilities on various blogs, three less likely choices are the most interesting to consider:

Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch appeared like a potential lead on Doctor Who from his first appearance on Sherlock, also written by Steven Moffat. There is no doubt that he would be an excellent choice, but this is highly unlikely. I recall old interviews in which Cumberbatch said he was not interested in taking on a time-consuming commitment of this nature. The chances are far less now that he is a much bigger star.

David Tennant
Tennant is returning to the 50th anniversary episode and perhaps had so much fun in his old role that, while also unlikely, perhaps he would reconsider returning to the show. There are possible ways to make this happen, from a reverse generation following the fall of the Doctor on Trenzalore to something stemming from his reappearance in the 50th anniversary. One problem with continuing from his reappearance is that, as Billie Piper will also be present, this is apparently the Doctor from earlier in his time line. With the eleventh and Clara messing around in the Doctor’s time line anything might happen, including a revitalization of the tenth or perhaps even the next possibility:

Jenna-Louise Coleman
It has been common to speculate on having a female Doctor whenever there is a regeneration. Doing so now might create problems with the dynamics of the show as Coleman will be returning and they might not want to do a show with two female leads. One way around this would be to have Clara, perhaps as a consequence of having been intertwined in the Doctor’s time line, become the form taken when the Doctor next regenerates, perhaps merging with a Clara who is dying for the same reason the Doctor is at time of regeneration. The new Doctor could then add a male companion. Ironically I think that more female fans would be upset by this than male fans. One strength of Doctor Who as a science fiction show is that its viewers aren’t limited to nerdy males and the smaller number of female science fiction fans. Chicks Dig Time Lords (according to a Hugo-award winning book).  There is a large contingent of female viewers who watch and display a crush on the Doctor in many places on line. They might not like seeing a change to a female Doctor.

Karen-Gillan-karen-gillan-13197795-450-650

Smith will have more time to spend on his film career, perhaps joining another recent costar who is having some success. Karen Gillan has been cast as the lead female villain in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen Gillan, who starred as Doctor Who’s companion for several seasons on the hit BBC show, is joining the cast of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy.

The movie is barreling towards a late-June shoot in the U.K. with James Gunn behind the camera.

The movie is in casting mode, with Glenn Close joining the roll call earlier this week. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista lead the cast of Marvel’s space adventure movie, which has Lee Pace and Michael Rooker as villains.

Details for Gillan’s role were not revealed, although it is known she will play the film’s lead female villain.

The Scottish actress played companion Amy Pond in Doctor Who‘s fifth through the recently ended seventh series. The character was hugely popular and appeared in Doctor Who books, apps and video games. Gillan has several indies in the can, including Oculus, a horror flick with Katee Sackhoff.

Hannibal-hannibal-tv-series-34286631-500-375

NBC has renewed Hannibal. The press release follows:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — May 30, 2013 — NBC has given a 13-episode second-season renewal to its critically applauded drama “Hannibal.” The new season will air no earlier than midseason.

“Hannibal” is based on the characters from the novel “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris and was developed for television by Bryan Fuller, who also serves as writer and executive producer.

The announcement was made by NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke.

“We’re so proud of Bryan’s vision for a show that is richly textured, psychologically complex, and very compelling,” Salke said. “There are many great stories still to be told.”

Critics have strongly embraced the series. Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix.com said “Hannibal” “is the last of this season’s serial killer shows. It’s also, by a very wide margin, the best.” Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly called “Hannibal” “finely acted, visually scrumptious and deliciously subversive” while Matt Roush of TV Guide said the show is “feverishly twisted, fascinatingly macabre and visually remarkable.”

The series stars Hugh Dancy as expert criminal profiler Will Dancy, who has a unique ability to peer into the mind of serial killers. Mads Mikkelsen stars as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist who is helping with the cases and, unbeknownst to Will, is also a serial killer himself.

Laurence Fishburne stars as Jack Crawford, the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. Caroline Dhavernas and Hettienne Park also co-star.

Through its eight original telecasts to date, “Hannibal” is averaging a 2.0 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 4.7 million viewers overall in “most current” results from Nielsen Media Research. ”Hannibal” is the youngest drama on ABC, CBS and NBC, with a median age for its audience of 45.7. It’s also an upscale drama, indexing at a 111 among adults 18-49 living in homes with $100K+ incomes (with 100 indicating an average concentration of those homes).

Additionally, “Hannibal” is heavily time-shifted, with its 18-49 rating growing by 75% going from next-day “live plus same day” ratings to “live plus seven day” results.

In addition to Fuller, Martha De Laurentiis, Jesse Alexander, Chris Brancato, Sara Colleton, Katie O’Connell, Elisa Roth, Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee also serve as executive producers.

The series is produced by Gaumont International Television, Dino De Laurentiis Company and Living Dead Guy Productions, and co-commissioned internationally by Sony Pictures Television Networks.

I have my doubts that the show will survive on network television for Bryan Fuller’s full seven year plan, but hopefully it will either last long enough to tell enough of the story and receive a proper ending or move onto cable in the future. I will avoid any significant spoilers in the hopes that others are starting to watch the show from the beginning, but to comment briefly on this week’s episode, it is clearer than ever that Hannibal is playing games with Will. This should come as no surprise as Hannibal must realize that Will is capable of figuring out Hannibal’s secret and exposing him. If not for the needs of an ongoing story, it is questionable why Hannibal hasn’t just killed him already or ensured that Will was removed from the FBI (which I believe he is still planning to attempt this season). As a relatively minor spoiler, we also found that when Hannibal was sniffing Will in a previous episode, it wasn’t  to try to decide what type of sauce to serve him with.

Community

In yet a second move to enhance quality television, NBC has also brought back both Dan Harmon and writer Chris McKenna to Community after the failed experiment of turning it over to others last season. Harmon has given some credit for his return to series star Joel McCale. I wonder how Harmon will handle last season’s finale with Jeff graduating. While last year’s show runners might have had a plan, having him out of the study room with the others does seem like a mistake. Perhaps something will come up forcing Jeff to take one more class, possibly even a decision that he no longer wants to be a sleazy lawyer and he returns to school to later move on to a new field. There are other ways he could still interact with the others, from social visits to being hired to teach a pre-law class at Greendale. These could work, but his interactions are the best with the rest of the cast when he is “studying” with them in the library.

Revolution - Season 1

Revolution will be airing its season finale tomorrow and remarkably it has been renewed. The one good thing I can say about Revolution is that it does have an ongoing storyline which does receive a conclusion. The first half of the season dealt with the rescue of the son. The second half dealt with going to the tower, and they have now reached it. However reaching a conclusion and reaching a satisfactory conclusion are two different things. It is really not worth the space to itemize all the unrealistic things about the storyline. Among the questionable discoveries, there are people living in the tower who have dedicated their lives to prevent anyone from getting to the twelfth level, where the electricity can be restored (with a contrived risk of burning up the planet). They have never been outside, which makes little sense since they could easily retreat inside as needed, and it is questionable that their food supply would have lasted this long even if this is where Dick Cheney supposedly hid out. They also feel more secure guarding the twelfth level than making it impossible to reach it or destroying the controls. While all electricity on earth is stopped (not counting that needed for operation of nervous systems in living things), somehow satellites remain functioning in orbit well beyond their normal life spans.

It appears from the previews that power will be restored, but we don’t know if this is temporary or whether it will extend into next season. At least it is likely that the storyline will move onto a new quest for next year avoiding a complete repeat of what we have already seen. It does seem safe to predict that we will be dealing with the same characters but new destination. Hopefully the quality is improved.

Renewing Hannibal, having Dan Harmon return, and renewing Revolution might partially be due to a shortage of hits to fill the prime time spots at NBC, complicated by The Office and 30 Rock concluding. Regardless, the first two at least are great moves for providing quality prime time shows.

mad-men-megan-draper-sharon-tate-red-star-white-t-shirt-esquire-amc

It is risky to try to predict where Mathew Weiner is going with Mad Men. There is a compelling theory making its rounds on line that Megan Draper’s storyline is a parallel to that of another aspiring actress, Sharon Tate. We have already seen signs of violence this season including an attempted robbery in Don Draper’s apartment and the Peggy accidentally stabbing Abe.  A review of the evidence for this theory can be found here and here.

Bruce Wayne Selina Kyle

RIP Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Fortunately death is not necessarily a permanent condition in the comics, and cats do have nine lives. I prefer to think of her eating in an outdoor bistro with Bruce Wayne as in the end of Dark Knight Rises.

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

uktv-doctor-who-nightmare-in-silver-14

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:

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

Doctor Who Ice Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

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

She also discussed her relationship with the TARDIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Searching For Clara Oswald; The Bells of St. John; Revolution: Mad Men Returns; Rory Gilmore Engaged to Pete Campbell

A prequel has been released for The Bells of Saint John, next week’s episode of Doctor Who (video above). I bet pretty much everyone guessed how it would end pretty early in the clip, remembering how the Doctor also first met Amelia Pond as a young child.  The Doctor is searching for Clara but I’ve already found her in a couple places:

Here she is on the Titanic.

She has also been sighted in the United States during World War II, going out with Steve Rogers (before he became Captain America).

As can be seen in the above trailer, the Doctor does find Clara. We still do not know who she is, and are unlikely to guess according to Doctor Who Producer Marcus Wilson:

What’s lovely this year is that we’ve also got a thread running through these eight very different, very exciting stories – the mystery of Clara. She’s the impossible girl. The Doctor has met her twice before and both times she died. This time he’s determined to keep her alive and to discover who or what she really is. It’s a riddle that won’t easily be cracked. I defy anybody to guess it. Steven Moffat has found a way to lead everybody down the garden path and then knock them over with surprise at the end.

Above Jenna-Louise Coleman interviews Matt Smith

There’s also talk of revealing the Doctor’s greatest secret, and of a love triangle involving Clara and River Song.

Jenna-Louise Coleman appeared on Craig Ferguson’s show last week (video above).

Doctor Who first made the cover of Entertainment Weekly in July 2012 in a cover story about cult television. Now he is on the cover twice more with two different versions of the cover for this week’s edition on the 50th anniversary. (I was happy to find that my home and office waiting room copies each had the different cover). Here are the two covers:

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DoctorWhoEntertainmentWeeklyCover2

But what happens after the anniversary? There’s another round of rumors that Matt Smith will leave the show after the Christmas Special, along with Jenna-Louise Coleman saying there may be a delay until the next season due to Steven Moffat being busy writing the 50th anniversary episode and Sherlock.

Revolution returns on Monday–view the first eight minutes above. Between the action scenes Aaron questions what Elizabeth knows. Now that Elizabeth has been reunited with her family it would not make any sense for her not to explain what is happening. We will see everything revealed in the thirteenth episode, to air April 8. Executive Producer Eric Kripke says this will open the door to new mysteries:

On revealing why the power went out

Kripke: In episode 13 Rachel reveals pretty much every single thing there is to know about why the blackout happened and every time I watch that scene– and she’s brilliant in it — but that scene’s a hard swallow every time because you’re like wow we’re just saying it. And it goes against many of your baked-in sure-weather instincts are not to have the scene that reveals every single thing in three minutes. And so we reveal really why the blackout happened but the card I think we have up our sleeve is I think the explanation really opens the door to much greater story possibility.

On Rachel’s role going forward

So Rachel’s quest is specific and she’s incredibly proactive. She’s making a straight line towards what it is that she needs to do. And the fun part that, you know, Eric had talked about before is that she also unloads everything; the entire secret, the entire history in one crazy conversation in Episode 13.

So I think that people will enjoy the fact that she has a lot to say and that her admonition or her quest is very powerful and proactive which I love in a character. It’s always nice to see women, people, anyone – your protagonist going after what she wants full force. So I think that’s going to be fun.

On what comes after that secret is revealed

Kripke: I don’t think we box ourselves in a corner. I think we open a door to a whole new world. And then we ask more questions. Because for me the story was never about what caused the blackout. I think it’s for me it’s like the show isn’t just based on one particular mystery, it’s based on these characters and this world and this kind of transformed landscape that they have these adventures in.

One of the more disappointing plot lines so far on Revolution was seeing how Aaron left his wife, feeling she would be safer without him. Kripke answered a question on this at PaleyFest2013:

Zac Orth wasn’t in the house, but his character Aaron was a hot topic nonetheless. When an audience member told the panel that he wasn’t a fan of how Aaron abandoned his wife so quickly, Kripke promised that that plotline would be addressed. ”He sees her again, and they’re able to work out their issues, and they do have a face-to-face,” he says. “She’s in the present day and you catch up with what she’s been doing for the past decade or so.”

Mad Men is also returning with a two-hour season premiere on April 7.  Promo above.

Last season  Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell)  and Alexis Bledel (better known as Rory Gilmore) had an affair. Now the two are engaged in real life.  With Bledel’s character undergoing the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind treatment it is doubtful that their  affair will resume on the show. Plus Alexis Bledel is in a new pilot based upon the excellent UK sitcom, Gavin and Stacey, in which she will be dating Jason Ritter of The Event. Ritter was dating Lauren Graham (who previously played Rory Gilmore’s mother) last season on Parenthood. Meanwhile Pete Campbell’s wife on Mad Men, played by Alison Brie, is back on Community with an unknown future.

SciFI Weekend II: Doctor Who; Game of Thrones; Revolution; Princesses; Rory Gilmore; Lena Dunham and Seth MacFarlane Parodies

Doctor Who Return Motorbike

Doctor Who returns on March 30 to BBC1 and BBC America:

Following a record-breaking year, fan favorite Doctor Who returns with a modern day urban thriller, The Bells of St. John, written by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat (Sherlock).  Set in London against the backdrop of new and old iconic landmarks – The Shard and Westminster Bridge – The Bells of St. John introduces a new nemesis, the Spoonheads, who battle the Doctor as he discovers something sinister is lurking in the Wi-Fi. The premiere will be followed by seven epic episodes written by Steven Moffat, acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Beowulf), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Neil Cross (Luther) and Stephen Thompson (Sherlock).

The Doctor (Matt Smith) is joined by his new companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) for the latest set of incredible adventures through space and time. The duo finds new adversaries and familiar friends around every corner as they journey from the bottom of the ocean in a submarine to the center of the TARDIS and beyond. The Cybermen make a thunderous return and the Ice Warrior arrives in an unexpected place.

Steven Moffat, executive producer and lead writer, said, “It’s the 50th year of Doctor Who and look what’s going on! We’re up in the sky and under the sea! We’re running round the rings of an alien world and then a haunted house. There’s new Cybermen, new Ice Warriors and a never before attempted journey to the centre of the TARDIS. And in the finale, the Doctor’s greatest secret will at last be revealed!  If this wasn’t already our most exciting year it would be anyway!”

Also appearing this season are guest stars Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives, Mission: Impossible II), Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short, Harry Potter), Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Richard E Grant (Iron Lady, Dracula), Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) and Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders, Law & Order: UK).  Additionally, mother and daughter Dame Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Rachael Stirling (Tipping the Velvet) will appear on screen together for the first time. Doctor Who premieres Saturday, March 30, 8:00pm ET as part of Supernatural Saturday.

The Ice Warriors are to return to Doctor Who but two episodes of the original serial The Ice Warriors from 1967 are missing. There are now plans to make animated episodes to complete the story for DVD release.

It looks like John Barrowman might  be appearing in the 50th anniversary episode, or maybe not. He also says he has “moved on” from Torchwood.

There is also talk about Arthur Darvill returning for the 50th anniversary, but they would have to be careful with that. Perhaps they could meet up with Rory before he was sent back in time by the Weeping Angels. Otherwise it would be hard to explain bringing back Rory without Amy Pond. Even that might violate some time laws, but those rules have always been inconsistent.

Game of Thrones Season 3 extended trailer above. The series returns on March 31.

Revolution returns on March 25. A five part web series is being posted prior to its return. Series Creator Eric Kripke is comparing his show to Game of Thrones:

“We’ve seen personal relationship struggles and personal revolutions happen, but we haven’t seen how this particular power outage has affected the whole world. We’re about to,” Esposito teases. With the revolution finally beginning, everyone has their own role to play, roles that will take them outside of the Monroe Republic. “We’ll see the Georgia Federation this season, we’ll see the Plains Nation this season — and they’re wildly different nations … We really want this to evolve into kind of an American Game of Thrones.” Kripke says. But with the world expanding, don’t expect our recently reunited gang of misfits to stay together too long.

It would take a considerable about of improvement to see Revolution enter the same league as Game of Thrones but it is not a bad things that Kripke aspires to such quality.

Variety reports that Emma Watson is in early talks to play Cinderella in a Disney live-action adaptation.

Zoe Saldana, taking up the Star Trek/Star Wars crossover of Part I of today’s SciFi Weekend, also wants to be a princess. The actress who plays Uhura wants to be a princess in Star Wars VII.

Robin is dead, but  Superhero deaths have become meaningless.

gavin and stacey cast

Gavin and Stacey is one British television series which I would highly recommend watching. It has become easily available in the United States, including on Netflix. However, when I first heard of plans for an American version of the show I was wary as to  how well it would work. Some adaptations of British shows have done well, while others have been flops. The flops include Coupling, a fantastic British sit-com written by Steven Moffat. The show was about a group of friends who hung out a a bar and felt like a combination of Seinfeld and Sex and the City, with occasional references to Daleks. NBC tried to use an American adaptation to replace their show about Friends who hung out in a coffee shop, but the adaptation didn’t work in the United States.

Gavin and Stacey also had a couple of connections to Doctor Who. Several years ago the internet went wild over rumors that Joanna Paige (Stacey) was going to appear on Doctor Who as a Time Lady or relative of the Doctor. James Corden, who has appeared in episodes of Doctor Who including The Lodger, was creator and co-writer of Gavin and Stacey and appeared in the show as Gavin’s friend Smithy. Joanna Paige might be best known in the United States for her role in the British romantic comedy Love Actually as the sex-scene body double who spent much of the movie nude and having sex.

I have questioned the change from a relationship between a boy from near London and a girl from Wales to an American story. In the American adaptation,  Friends and Family, the role analogous to Stacey is moved from Wales to rural Pennsylvania. I had little interest in this show until the cast for the pilot was released: Alexis Bledel and Jason Ritter.

Alexis Bledel is best known as Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. She also appeared in Sin City and recently appeared on Mad Men. With Alexis Bledel on the show I will definitely check it out. It is also amusing that Jason Ritter recently was involved with Lauren Graham (who played Rory’s mother on Gilmore Girls) on  Parenthood. Ritter also stared on The Event.

This impersonation of Lena Dunham auditioning for Zero Dark Thirty really nails her charter from Girls.

This is for female readers who were offended by Seth MacFarlane’s We Saw Your Boobs number at the Oscars (video above) not because it was tasteless and crude but because it only pandered to the prurient interests of male viewers–We Saw Your Junk:

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

Daleks London

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.

Batwoman-Proposal

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.”

 

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Christmas Special; Merlin To End; Sherlock Delayed; Revolution; Star Trek; Downton Abbey; Into The Darkness

The BBC has released the poster for The Snowmen, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special. The official synopsis:

Christmas Eve 1892 and the falling snow is the stuff of fairy-tales. When the fairy-tale becomes a nightmare and a chilling menace threatens Earth, an unorthodox young governess, Clara, calls on the Doctor for help. But the Doctor is in mourning, reclusive and determined not to engage in the problems of the universe. As old friends return, will the Doctor really abandon humankind or will he fight to save the world – and Christmas – from the icy clutches of this mysterious menace.

Radio Times has The Snowmen on their cover. Blogtor Who reports that the article quotes Jenna-Louise Coleman as saying, “I’m not Oswin: I’m a different person who looks and sounds like Oswin.” Could it be that there is no connection, or is Moffat dragging out an explanation? If at some point we find out that Clara gets duplicated, don’t get too attached to the copy. Same goes if we meet a descendent of Clara’s who looks a lot like her.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Jenna-Louise Coleman about her role as Clara, the Doctor’s new companion. She had no further information to reveal about how she appears after having been blown up as a Dalek in Asylum of the Daleks:

So, you played an ultimately deceased Dalek on that show and now you are about to debut (again!) on the special Christmas show as the Doctor’s assistant. All of which obviously raises about a thousand questions. Is this a subject that is going to be addressed in the Christmas episode?
Uh… mmm… no. We’re going to have what has been referred to as a “soft mystery.” For me, filming, I’ve been totally oblivious to Oswin and the “Asylum of the Daleks.” I really have had to erase it from my memory. Yeah, Christmas is it’s own episode.

Oswin was a Dalek. Can you tell us whether your companion is human? Not all of the Doctor’s companions have been.
That’s why it’s so difficult [to talk about it]. Because of the way it started with Oswin, it’s really difficult to say much: where she’s from, what period she’s from, what planet she’s from, even.

It’s not often an actor can’t even reveal what planet their character is from.
Exactly, yeah. I know. Doctor Who’s the worst for it, isn’t it?

The BBC has announced that Merlin will end after the fifth season, which is currently being aired in the U.K. I will try to avoid giving away too much for those waiting for the season to air in the United States but there will be some spoilers here. I had thought that the entire series was to be about younger versions of Merlin and Arthur, taking place before the major occurrences of the legends. Now it appears the series might include the entire Arthur story.  The final season is in some ways more like the King Arthur legends except that this still seems earlier in the legends than might be expected at the conclusion of the story. Mordred plays a part in the final series and based upon released synopses of upcoming episodes we do appear to be heading towards their final confrontation.

The video above contains an interview with Colin Morgan. There is also talk of a spin off series taking place in this time period.

Production on Sherlock has been delayed so we will have to wait until late 2013 to see how the cliff hanger is resolved, with the third season not airing in the United States until late 2013 or 2014.

Revolution wrapped up the first half of the season. The mid-season finale was disappointing, but this came as no surprise based upon how the series has been written to date. The entire first half of the season consisted of an arc in which Rachel’s son was captured and it came as no surprise that the arc ended by freeing him. The contrived suspense of whether Miles would rejoin the militia, which began in a flashback the previous week, ended as expected. What could have been a surprise at the end of the episode, a helicopter in the air, had been given away by scenes of the helicopters in the preview. Even if Rachel had really built a working amplifier, could this really support helicopters going an distance? I suppose they also quickly invented some sort of receivers for the helicopters so that they would have power but there wouldn’t be electricity for everyone else around.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed series creator Eric Kripke about the finale. Here are some of the questions and answers:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was there ever a version in your head where Miles goes, “Yeah, I’m re-joining Monroe”?
Eric Kripke: What we love about Miles is half of him is light and half is shadow. If this story was set a couple years ago he would be the bad guy. You never want to lose sight of that. Just because Miles was able to face-off with Monroe in this particular encounter and maintain the heroic side of his personality doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. So even though he was able to resist the temptation, that temptation is still there. Even moreso when he starts to fulfill his destiny and becomes a leader for the rebels [in the second half of the season]; he starts to fall into his old bloodthirsty patterns again. … There’s also a lot of important pieces in last night’s episode that move the story forward. We’re setting up how pissed Monroe is going to be in the second half of the season; how personal Neville is going to take Miles’ assault on his wife. And [we hinted that] Rachel and Miles have a very secret history.

I gotta ask, since I’m seeing this comment on the boards: How could Rachel forget to grab the pendant on the way out of the room?
Kripke: We shot a scene where Rachel goes, “We have to go back and get the pendant,” and Miles says, “We can’t go back, they’re shooting machine guns at us!” We ended up cutting it for time because we thought, maybe wrongly, that when there’s a room full of five people shooting machine guns in your direction that you can’t run toward those machine guns.

You mentioned the learning curve, what more have you figured out since the last time we spoke?
Kripke: The biggest lesson we learned is we need to move this story forward a little faster. We’re still going to have the same format where each episode is centered around a single event so it has certain self-enclosed elements to the storytelling. But sometimes in the emotional arcs and serialized arcs we treaded water maybe a little too much without revealing either new character moves or emotional revelations. We went a couple episodes too many where we didn’t move the ball forward significantly. We’re trying to correct that so that every time somebody tunes in they get a satisfying story and also a big “what the hell” moment

Staging a revolution is a pretty big venture. Can you give us an idea of what specific characters will be focused on?
Kripke: Charlie and Miles are really going to be focused on the war against Monroe. Miles leading the rebels gives them a fighting chance and Charlie is right beside him. Rachel and Aaron will focus the ongoing mythology in terms of revealing why the lights go out. I can reveal now that we do reveal it, now that we’ve written that scene. And reveal how to turn them back on.

You’re not that deep into production on the second half of the season, so can we assume that revelation comes fairly early?
Yeah in the second half it happens sooner than anyone is thinking it will happen.

Revolution has been mediocre but has managed to keep me hooked by wondering about its back story. Knowing that their will be a revelation early has me hooked into starting the second half of the season, and once I start watching I’m likely to continue through the first season. Will they come up with enough to advance this story into a second year?

An official synopsis has been released for Star Trek Into Darkness, scheduled for release on May 17, 2013:

In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.

With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

My immediate thought on this: Gary Mitchell (Where No Man Has Gone Before). The above video is obviously  from the original show and not the upcoming movie.

Last week’s installment of SciFi Weekend had some cases of shows having to carry on with the loss of characters. Now there are reports that Dan Stevens will only return for the first episode of the fourth season of Downton Abbey. His character, Matthew, takes on a prominent role at Downton in the third season (which has not yet aired in the United States) and I wonder if it will require a major change in direction for the fourth season if it is necessary to write him out. Perhaps more money will encourage him to stay, or at least make occasional appearances so that they can just say he is working in London for parts of the season.

Julian Fellowes is going to be writing and producing a series on The Gilded Age for NBC:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – November 27, 2012 – NBC and Universal Television have entered into a deal with Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning writer-producer Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey,” “Gosford Park”) to create and produce his next dramatic television series, it was jointly announced today by Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment, and Bela Bajaria, Executive Vice President, Universal Television.

Fellowes, creator of “Downton Abbey,” will write and produce “The Gilded Age,” an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made — and spent — in late nineteenth-century New York. “This was a vivid time,” says Fellowes, “with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king.”

SciFi Weekend: Larry Hagman Dies; Chevy Chase Leaves Community; Fringe; Revolution; When’s The Doctor?

The story which must lead over any other entertainment stories this week is the death of Larry Hagman. He is best known for the part of J.R. Ewing. In 1980 Dallas received a remarkable amount of publicity with a cliffhanger in which J.R. was shot (and recovered). The episode which resolved the mystery remains the second highest rated television episode of all time, and with increased fragmentation of the television audience in the age of cable, Dallas might hold onto this position.

Larry Hagman got to reprise the role of J.R. Ewing on a remake of Dallas which began last summer on TNT. Younger stars dominated the series (sometimes making the series feel too much as if it were Dallas 90210), but the presence of Hagman got the series off the ground. J.R. Ewing slipped into the background during part of the first season to open the way for the next generation, including Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing III and Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher Ewing, to battle each other. Hagman had filmed six of fifteen episodes of the second season, which begins on January 28. There is no doubt that the show will be rewritten to take J.R.’s death into account. A storyline about the death of J.R. Ewing in March is bound to be a ratings success.

This is not the first time that Dallas has had to deal with the loss of a major character, with Jim Davis (Joch Ewing) dying and Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing) leaving the series for health reasons. (Donna Reed also played Miss Ellie for one year, with Bel Geddes subsequently returning for an additional season). Bobby Ewing died in the eighth-season cliffhanger, with Bobby returning in Pamela’s shower at the start of season ten, making all of season nine a dream.

While J.R. Ewing could never be replaced, the remake of Dallas does feature other characters from the original series, with Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing) having regular roles. Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs) and Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) have had recurring appearances. Joan Van Ark and Ted Shackelford are returning as Valene and Gary Ewing, roles which were primarily seen in the Dallas spinoff Knots Landing.

Hagman had many other roles, including some which could be classified as genre. The most notable of his other roles was as Major Anthony Nelson, an astronaut who was the owner of a 2000 year-old super being on I Dream of Jeannie. Other genre connections include a role in the first Superman movie and directing a low-budget sequel to The Blob, called Beware! The Blob.

Reactions from many who have worked with Hagman can be found here.

Community will also have to deal with the loss of a leading character. Chevy Chase (Pierce Hawthorne) left the show late in the filming of the fourth season. It was an abrupt departure so it is not known how it will be dealt with on the show. There might not be any need for an explanation unless the series makes it to s fifth season. The episodes were being filmed out of order with Chase present in the finale.

Chevy Chase had highly publicized conflicts with former show runner Dan Harmon, and his problems with the show were obviously not resolved after Harmon was fired. Chase’s character also often had a rocky relationship with other members of his study group, and the remainder of the ensemble cast could easily carry on without him should the show get renewed for a fifth season. #sixseasonsandamovie.

Fringe wrote a character, Peter Bishop, out of existence and brought him back during the fourth season. This was not one of the better arcs on the series. Show runner Joel Wyman agrees that this “didn’t work.”

“I get so much support from the media and from fans [and] I can’t be upset if they don’t like [something],” Wyman explained.

“Like the whole [season four] disappearance of Peter, I learned a great deal from that. It didn’t work. People didn’t like it and felt it was sort of stupid and didn’t get it.”

Wyman admitted that he now “totally” agrees with fan criticisms of the plot, adding: “I look back at it and consider it one of our missteps.”

“It didn’t work as well as we all thought it would,” he confessed. “We liked it and thought it was cool. But no matter how many times we told people, ‘No, Peter is still part of the show…’ everybody was saying, ‘Peter is not on the show so I’m not watching anymore!’ They didn’t get it.”

Revolution had a great scene last week in which Rachel made sure that she will still be needed by Monroe. She did kill a former coworker, but on the other hand he did betray Rachel in telling Monroe that it was a bomb which she was building. In the mid-season finale, all the major characters will be reunited in Philadelphia. TVLine interviewed co-executive producer David Rambo about the mid-season finale. He said that, “The finale will answer some questions, but it will pose even more because it is a really good cliffhanger. One of the big things that will be revealed actually, I believe, is what Monroe’s plans really are.” The second half of the season might also show what is occurring in the other republics.

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You might ask Where’s Waldo, but the question with the Doctor is not where but when. Flick Filosopher presented some pictures from this Gallifreyan Where’s Waldo?