SciFi Weekend: Karen Gillan on Graham Norton; Star Trek 2 Casting; Benedict Cumberbatch; Sherlock; Kristen Bell

Karen Gillan appeared on the Graham Norton show last week. She discussed leaving Doctor Who in the clip above. The full show can be seen here.

Star Trek 2 is going into production this week after conversion to 3-D. J. J. Abrams discussed the movie in an interview posted here. There have been many news reports regarding casting lately, including Peter Weller of Robocop, Noel Clark, who played Mickey Smith, Rose Tyler’s boyfriend on Doctor Who, and Benedict Cumberbatch who stars in the BBC  version of Sherlock written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. MTV interviewed Cumberbatch about this role, but unfortunately he was rather vague:

“There’s a lawyer standing here saying that I can’t say anything,” he joked. “I’m hugely, hugely excited and I’m very, very flattered. I’m very, very excited, but obviously I’m not here to talk about that. I will, in the future, I’m sure. I’m just getting my head around the fact that it’s happened. If you’ll forgive me, I’ll pass on that. But my headline is that I’m over the moon.”

Cumberbatch will take on an unknown villainous role in the sequel, for which director J.J. Abrams reportedly pursued Benicio Del Toro and later Édgar Ramirez. Although Abrams has refused to comment on exactly what villain will be in “Trek 2,” plenty of speculators remain convinced that the British actor will portray the genetically engineered superhuman Khan, originally played and made famous by Ricardo Montalbán in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

While that speculation is common, other reports suggest that the Khan story will not be repeated in the second Star Trek movie by Abrams so we will have to wait and see.

Sherlock won’t air in the United States until May but the first two episodes have been broadcast on the BBC. So far I’ve seen the first, which is a lot of fun but in many ways more Steven Moffat than Arthur Conan Doyle. I don’t want to present any significant spoilers, but the picture above gives an example of what viewers have to look forward to in the first episode, A Scandal in Belgravia. For those who did see the episode and want Irene Adler’s ring tone, it is available here:

George Takei will be on Celebrity Apprentice this season. I still won’t watch Donald Trump’s show.

Kristen Bell returns to television tonight on Showtime’s House of Lies. From the promotional pictures, it appears that the movie has a low budget for clothing.  Talk of a Veronica Mars movie also continues.

 

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SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Trinity & Barney; Toy Story Returns; Tyra Collette is Wonder Woman, Alessandra Torresani As Princess Leia Slave Girl

This week’s Fringe was not one of the greatest episodes in the show’s history but it did move the story forwards slightly. We saw  signs that the problems faced by the alternate universe are beginning on this side and the relationship between Peter and Olivia move forwards. The episode also served to demonstrate that the conflict between the two universes is not one of good versus evil but each side taking the steps felt necessary to protect itself.

The story probably did work best with Mr. and Mrs. Merchant letting go, realizing they were seeing alternate versions of their spouses and not their actual dead spouses, so that the rift would close. It might have been more interesting, however, if they could have had one cross over to the other side. While neither would really be united with their dead spouse, having the version from the alternate universe would have been the next best thing. Could they have continued their former relationships in this manner, somewhat analogous to Peter unknowingly having a relationship with Fauxlivia instead of Olivia?

Apparently Peter was always intended to become involved with our Olivia, with next week’s episode showing them together as children.

Spoiler TV has more from a conference call with Fringe executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman:

When it comes to Olivia and Peter:
Things “will get worse and better,” said Pinkner. “Since Olivia returned and their relationship sort of shattered, they’ve been trying to pick up the pieces. They’ve been getting closer and they will continue to, but the problems that they’re dealing with are going to continue to complicate … We’re throwing a whole bunch of things at them.” That includes last week’s revelation that Faulivia (aka Bolivia or the alternate Olivia) is pregnant with Peter’s child.

“We’re always trying to get deeper, more complex emotions because we find that’s a really rich area for us to investigate in,” said Wyman. “There are so many facets to a real relationship, and these are incredible circumstances that they’re going through. But we try and make it as deep as we can. So you’ll see a whole bunch of shifting still to come in the entire rest of the season.”

As far as Peter’s shape-shifter killing ways:
Peter’s been killing shape-shifters and keeping it a secret from Olivia and the Fringe team. But “there’s a reason,” said Wyman.

And “Peter will come clean soon enough,” added Pinkner.

Peter has been more concerned about what the shape-shifters are up to “than anybody else on our show. There’s a drawing of him standing inside that machine. So he’s got questions, and by nature he’s a character who for years has only relied on himself,” he said.

“This season was always going to be a season about self-actualization for a lot of the characters. So this is the beginning of those steps,” said Wyman.

There’s still two of almost everything:
“We get to do two shows about one show. So that turned into a great thing,” said Wyman. And that allowed them to explore things like the murder of alternate Broyles “and having our Broyle actually stand next to his own dead body.”

“I think we knew how much there was to discover with Walternate and Bolivia and how much those two characters would provide a counterpoint and shed light on their alter egos that we’ve known for going on three seasons now.” said Pinkner. “I think one of the things that’s been really fun for us [was] the dynamic between Lincoln and Charlie and Bolivia and the energy of the stories on the other side. It feels like a different version of our show that just has a different inherent rhythm and different inherent chemistries in those characters, and that’s been really joyful for us.”

And speaking of the joy of the Other Side:
“What we discovered was that the energy of Lincoln and Charlie and Bolivia made up for the lack of Walter,” said Pinkner. “Obviously Walternate’s John Noble was in the episodes, but energetically and rhythmically it made up for missing Walter, so rather than recognizing or discovering that, it became a creative challenge. The discovery for us that was really wonderful was that it was a joy to go to the other side, and it was really a joy to explore another version of our show with cases that affected everything happening on our side with characters that we, as writers, had come to love.”

While Pinkner admits that fans started out “inclined to hate Bolivia, slowly over time they’ve started to … whether or not people want Peter to be with Olivia or Bolivia is a separate issue. But at least as far as we can tell, people are finding the relationship between the characters on the other side and the stories we’re telling on the other side charming and also really intriguing. It’s just deepening everything that’s happening over here. So rather than a challenge, we actually found it to be a really great creative outlet.”

Extinct sheep, myth-a-lones and the dangerously out of control Over There:
“The other side gives us an opportunity to do some pretty wild things, as you can imagine, because things are dangerously out of control there,” said Wyman. “So we’re fascinated enough with the notion that things we take for granted, like sheep for example, don’t exist over there because they were killed out by this beetle.”

Pinkner and Wyman continue to embrace what they call myth-a-lones, “where you’re watching the freak of the week type of concept, but it’s connected to our mythology. You’re going to see a lot of things … taking things and tropes that we know in our world and sort of turning them on their head,” said Wyman.

When it comes to Sam Weiss:
The mysterious bowling dude who has helped both Nina Sharp and Olivia, could be a good guy or a bad one. According to Wyman, “You know, don’t trust that Weiss.”

“If anybody unfurled the anagram that was on the chalkboard in Walter’s lab on the other side, it said, ‘Don’t trust Sam Weiss,’” said Pinkner.

“Sam is a character that I feel safe in saying that he still has many, many, many, many layers to reveal, and his motivations will become clearer and you’ll get a better understanding. I’m saying that we’re not going to keep pushing it down the line and not answering it, because that frustrates everyone. You’re going to find out about him. Hopefully it will be something that you don’t see coming,” said Wyman.

If you’ve been paying attention, things will fit together:
“If you go back into season one and you see the bus … There was a pattern episode that the bus had amber on it. I don’t know if you remember that, but the truth is the people here didn’t really know what amber was. They really didn’t understand what it was, but we knew,” said Wyman.

“So it’s like you can really set things up and they can pay off in really great ways. I think there’s a lot of that stuff coming up that will demonstrate the forethought, and the keen viewer will be able to say, ‘Oh, my gosh. Oh, I remember that.’ Now that’s taken on a whole different meaning. The only way that we can do that is if we know where we’re going.”

“The truth is we’ve been setting up season four in brush strokes very early on in season two, and we’ve been setting up what we imagine, with luck and grace and hoping we stay on the air this far, we’ve been sort of setting up season five since season one. It’s just a matter of whether we have the good fortune of getting to tell these stories,” said Pinkner.

“We need more time, and we’re trying to tell thematic stories,” said Wyman. “The multiple levels that we like takes time. I’m sure that we fall short of our goals all the time, but there’s enough fear every week, and like okay, what story are we going to tell this week … We have kind of a blue print.”

Joshua Jackson (Peter Bishop) has also discussed the show recently, including his thoughts on the First People.

While the major quest on  How I Met  Your Mother is Ted’s prolonged personal journey before meeting his eventual wife, there is also Barney’s quest to find his father. Imagine the shock when it turns out to be the Trinity killer. Well, not really, but Barney’s father, Jerome Whitaker, will be played by John Lithgow in two episodes. This is Lithgow’s first television role since playing Trinity on DexterHIMYM co-creator Carter Bays joked that there are some similarities between Jerome and Trinity:

“[Jerome] is [also] a family man who lives in the suburbs [but] he’s not going to be naked in the bathtub strangling someone,” he quipped.

Toy Story Barbie Ken

Toy Story 3 wasn’t the end of the toys. Pixar is going to release at least two shorts with the Toy Story characters, with the storyline of only one of them having been released:

The short that will be shown in front of ‘Cars 2′ will focus on the characters of Barbie and Ken after their exploits in ‘Toy Story 3′. After being left behind for their Hawaii vacation, Buzz Lightyear and Woody attempt to recreate a Hawaii paradise to please the disappointed Barbie and Ken.

In a follow-up of last week’s story, it now looks hopeful that a Robocop statue will be built in Detroit with private donations.

Taylor Kitsch Adrianne Palicki Wonder Woman Friday Night Lights

Adrianne Palicki, Tyra Collette on Friday Night Lights has been signed to play Wonder Woman in a remake which NBC finally picked up after all the networks had rejected it. I’m sure Tim Riggins and Landry Clarke agree in considering her a Wonder Woman. There are also rumors that Oliva Wilde will play Laura Croft in a movie remake.

I’ve had a number of posts with pictures of actresses in the old Princess Leia Slave Girl costume. The video above, Nerding Out – Tonight I’m Frakking You, features Alessandra Torresani of Caprica in the outfit along with multiple other science fiction references.

Previous pictures here (Kelly Brook) and  here (Kristen Bell & Olivia Munn), with a picture of the original is here. Interviews with the stars of Tonight I’m Frakking You in the video below:

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SciFi Weekend: New Development on Fringe; Robocop Statue For Detroit; Interview with Rick Berman; Star Trek Meets Doctor Who; Star Trek Girl

Fringe returned to the alternative universe in this week’s episode. Other than for the characters being the  cooler versions from the other universe, most of the episode seemed like it would have worked as a stand-alone story in either universe. (Major spoiler ahead). In the end we found the reason why this story had to take place over there–Fauxlivia found out that she is pregnant and Peter is the father.

The ramifications of this are obvious, having recently learned that which universe survives might come down to which Olivia is chosen by Peter. The mother of his child might have a significant advantage over the Olivia from our universe who is not even certain whether she wants to continue a relationship with Peter. Who could blame Peter if he goes back to Fauxlivia after Olivia broke things off after finding Peter had slept with Fauxlivia. His argument for sleeping with another woman–she is an exact duplicate of you from another universe–is far stronger than Ross’s argument to Rachel that “we were on a break.”

Fringe head writers J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner had hinted that there would be a big revelation during a conference call before the episode aired. They also discussed its importance:

One reporter, who had already seen the new episode, entitled “Immortality,” phrased his question vaguely so as not to spoil anything. He asked if the ramifications of the reveal will “make it’s way to our universe sooner rather than later?”

Wyman and Pinkner responded, “The information and the reality of what is happening over there will get to our side rather sooner.”

They mentioned that one thing they enjoy about Fringe is the ability to tell traditional, mundane storylines (like a man cheating on his girlfriend) in new ways (like a man cheating on his girlfriend with a version of her from another reality). “The reveal,” they continued, “will not unfold in a way that I think is traditional.”

They also stated that “Peter will also come clean to Olivia about murdering the shapeshifters in an upcoming episode.”

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has turned down the idea of a statue of Robocop to be built in Detroit.  Science fiction fans didn’t go along with the idea to ignore the hero of the 1987 movie which took place in Detroit. There is a movement to obtain private contributions to build the statue. There are already several examples of statures honoring fictitious characters in other cities including a statue of Rocky in Philadelphia,  Superman in Philadelphia, and Yoda in San Francisco.
Rick Berman Captain Kirk Picard

The official Star Trek site has a three part interview with Rick Berman. In Part I he discussed how he was chosen by Gene Roddenberry and ultimately took over the Star Trek universe:

One of the things you did NOT have in common was Star Trek

Berman: I made it very clear to Gene that I had not watched The Original Series. I had seen one of the movies. I’d probably seen a few episodes of The Original Series at some point, in my pre-college or college period. But it was nothing I was serious about watching at the time. A day or two later I got a call from Gene’s confidante and attorney, Leonard Maizlish, who said that Gene wanted to go to the studio and ask for me to be released from my vice-president-ship so that I could come work with him on this new series. I think his reasons were two-fold. First of all, I was young compared to the other people who were involved with the project at the time, because Gene was dealing with Bob Justman and Eddie Milkis and Dorothy Fontana, people who’d worked with him on the original series. I was a good 20 years younger than this group.

More importantly, Gene was very specific about the fact that my not knowing much about Star Trek was something he was very attracted to. He wanted somebody involved in the production of the show who did not grow up with Star Trek and wasn’t enamored by it over the previous two decades like most of the people who were involved with show. We’re talking about before the (TNG pilot) script was written. So that was how I began. I think I was co-executive producer along with Bob Justman, and I was asked by Gene to be involved with the creative elements of the show, where Bob was more involved with the production and budgetary ends of the show.

Let’s dig into some complicated ground. Roddenberry got sick, became less involved and eventually passed away. What were your thoughts, as the torch was handed on, about following his vision versus doing what needed to be done to make the show work versus any urge you might’ve had to put your own imprint on TNG?

Berman: It was never a sense to me of a torch being passed. That all sounds great in retrospect, but things are never quite as clear-cut as that. As the first few years of TNG went on, Bob Justman left the show and Maurice Hurley and I were involved. And then Maurice left and a fellow named Michael Wagner was hired. He lasted a very short time, and then Michael Piller came on. Gene was comfortable with me taking care of the day-to-day supervision of this program that he’d been involved with for about two years at that point, and he stepped back. He’d come to the office every day. He did a lot of correspondence with people. He and I would talk a lot. He’d read some scripts. But his involvement got smaller and smaller as the months went on. Then he got ill and his involvement got quite a bit less. By the time he passed away, I was, I guess you could say, running TNG along with Michael Piller. And I’d been asked by Brandon Tartikoff, at the time, to develop a new show. This was something that I discussed with Gene, who felt very positive about it. But he was quite ill at the time and wasn’t really interested in getting involved with what it was or what it was going to be about. I would like to think that he had faith in both myself and Michael, who I asked to work with me on what became Deep Space Nine.

So, by the time Gene died, there was no sense of “Oh my God, this great responsibility has been put on my shoulders.” I was doing the job I’d been doing for a couple of years and Gene had become, in a sense, a producer emeritus of the organization. I had absolutely no thoughts about putting my own imprint on Star Trek. My interest was to continue to try to do the best work that I could and to hire the best people that I could and to continue on with what Gene set out to do with TNG. It was my hope that the direction we went in with DS9 – and onward with the other shows — was something he would have thought was the right direction to go. I don’t see myself, nor have I ever seen myself, as a visionary who wanted to put his ideas onto the show. I wanted to be as truthful as I could to Gene’s vision, and that was something I was more than comfortable with.

During the second part of the interview Berman discussed the three spin-offs after STTNG, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.  This is from the discussion of Deep Space Nine, which I felt was the only spin-off which compared in quality with the original show and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Going into DS9 — with a space station, stories about war, politics and religion, a fractious crew and a commander of color — how ready were you for the backlash from the portion of the fan base that felt the show wasn’t their father’s Star Trek?

Berman: At that point, our biggest concern was to do something different. We had a show that was on the air. We had no idea how long it was going to be on the air, but we knew that it was going to continue to be on the air for at least another few years. We didn’t want to send another crew out on a spaceship at the same time the TNG crew was out on the Enterprise. Michael (Piller) and I spent a long time thinking about this. One of the things that Brandon Tartikoff, who was the head of the studio at the time, suggested was The Rifleman, which was a show that he loved when he was a kid. It’s a father and a son out doing good deeds on the prairie. This was an era when television executives loved to say, “Let’s do The Partridge Family meets Father Knows Best.” Roddenberry evidently had talked about “Wagon Train in space” 20 years before and DS9 was “The Rifleman in space.” I think what Michael and I ended up pulling from that was the idea of a father and a son, and we chose to do the story of a man who had recently lost his wife, who was very bitter, and was sent to a very distant space station that was not a Federation facility. As a result, we could have a lot of non-Starfleet people.

One of the big problems that Michael and the writing staff (on TNG) had was Gene that believed that in the 24th century there wouldn’t be any conflict between the major characters. Mankind had reached a point where the kind of human conflict that exists today had subsided, and the writers all believed very strongly, in fact, that drama is based on conflict, and they were very frustrated by that. And they were frustrated very often by notes they got from Gene about how he didn’t want conflict between anyone in Starfleet, primarily the main cast of the show. So, what Michael and I felt was that if we placed the show on a Bajoran space station we would have characters like Odo and Quark and Kira, who were regular characters, who were not only not human, but they were also not Federation, and thus conflict could exist among the series regulars.

The religious elements you mentioned were not really part of our initial thoughts. That was stuff that evolved. But the idea of a wormhole that led to another part of the galaxy gave us new fodder. As far as hiring a black actor to play Sisko, this was something that meant a great deal to Michael Piller. My feeling was it would be great if we could find the right actor, but that if we couldn’t find the right actor, I felt that it wasn’t necessary to go with a black actor. But we very much wanted to find a black actor who could pull it off because it was time for that. When we met Avery (Brooks), when he came in and read for the role, we felt it was a slam dunk.

Berman also admitted it was a mistake to end Enterprise with characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Personally I was not bothered by this, considering how weak the entire series was compared to STTNG, but if there really were fans of Enterprise I could see their objections).

Not to beat up on Enterprise, but we’ve got to ask about the finale. “These Are the Voyages…” was clearly the most controversial Trek finale. Some fans groused it was only an hour long, but the more strenuous gripe was that it folded four years of Enterprise into a TNG episode. Were you surprised by the hostile reaction?

Berman: Totally. I would have never done it if I had known how people were going to react. We were informed with not a whole lot of time that this was our last season. We knew that this was going to be the last episode of Star Trek for perhaps quite some time – and here we are, almost six years later. So it was the last episode for quite a length of time. It was a very difficult choice, how to end it. The studio wanted it to be a one-hour episode. We wanted it to be special. We wanted it to be something that would be memorable. This idea, which Brannon and I came up with – and I take full responsibility – pissed a lot of people off, and we certainly didn’t mean it to. Our thought was to take this crew and see them through the eyes of a future generation, see them through the eyes of the people who we first got involved in Star Trek with 18 years before, with Picard and Riker and Data, etc., and to see the history of how Archer and his crew went from where we had them to where, eventually, the Federation was formed, in some kind of a magical holographic history lesson.

It seemed like a great idea. A lot of people were furious about it. The actors, most of them, were very unhappy. In retrospect it was a bad idea. When it was conceived it was with our heart completely in the right place. We wanted to pay the greatest homage and honor to the characters of Enterprise that we possibly could, but because Jonathan (Frakes) and Marina (Sirtis) were the two people we brought in, and they were the ones looking back, it was perceived as “You’re ending our series with a TNG episode.” I understand how people felt that way. Too many people felt that way for them to be wrong. Brannon and I felt terrible that we’d let a lot of people down. It backfired, but our hearts were definitely in the right place. It just was not accepted in the way we thought it would be.

In Part III, Berman talked about the Star Trek movies he was involved with, along with the more recent remake by J.J. Abrams:

Speaking of the Abrams film, did you see it and what did you think of it?

Berman: I thought it was a wonderful movie. It was very, very big. You have to remember, I did four movies with incredibly restrictive budgets. The philosophy when I made movies was, “We know we can make X number of dollars off a Star Trek movie, so don’t spend more than Y number of dollars.” The lengths that (Abrams’) film went with its visual effects and production values were so astonishing to me. I thought the story was wonderful and a lot of the acting was terrific. I’ve just gotten to a point where these big action films filled with computer-generated stuff from beginning to end are starting to wear on me a little bit. To me, the movie, like Iron Man or any of these big, incredibly expensive films dealing with tens upon tens of millions of dollars worth of visual effects… it was a very, very exciting movie. In terms of it having the heart of Star Trek, I think it could have perhaps had a little bit more of that. But I liked it very much.

Deviant Art presents the above picture mixing Star Trek and Doctor Who. Kirk, Spock, the Doctor, and Amy Pond fight off Klingons, Romulans, Daleks, and Cybermen. (Click on picture for larger version).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ryo-GtOgi7s&hd=1

Here’s one of the best YouTube music videos since Obama GirlStar Trek Girl. With her references to going to Vulcan I’m happy to see that Star Trek Girl clearly lives in the Roddenberry universe and not the J.J. Abrams universe.

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