SciFi Weekend: Spoilers on Star Trek Into Darkness; Doctor Who News; Carrie Fisher and Star Wars VII; Joss Whedon on Superheroes; Ashley Judd Running For Senate

A new trailer has been released for Star Trek Into Darkness (video above). TrekMovie.com revealed several spoilers coming from an extended screening in Brazil:

From the extended beginning of the film…

  • Opening sequence (previewed at IMAX theaters in December) has been reordered to have Nibiru Volcano sequence now opens the film followed by title card and then the scenes in London and at the hospital

  • Nibiru mission ends with Kirk rescuing Spock by violating the prime directive by revealing the Enterprise to Nibiru natives so he can beam Spock out of the Volcano

  • Kirk has a scene in bed (back in San Francisco) in bed with two “cat women”

  • Kirk makes mention of hoping to get assigned to a “five year mission” (implying that the famed five year mission hasn’t started yet for the time he has been captain)

  • Kirk is demoted for violating prime directive on Nibiru, loses command of Enterprise with Pike to take over command Kirk as first officer

  • Pike wanted to send Kirk back to Academy but was convinced (possibly ordered?) to make Kirk first officer of Enterprise by Admiral Marcus (played by Peter Weller)

  • Spock assigned to another ship

  • The “father” character uses his Starfleet ring as a bomb (dropping it into water for a reaction) and destroys a facility (in London)

  • London attack leads to big meeting of Starfleet captains which itself is attacked by John Harrison, resulting in Pike being injured…Harrison transport away

Later scenes in the film….

  • Enterprise severely damaged falling to Earth with Spock in command ordering evacuation

  • Kirk and Scott seen in Engineering trying to stabilize ship

  • Later Spock scene beaming down to San Francisco and starting long chase with Harrions

  • Eventually Spock meets up with Harrison and engages in a fight

Doctor and Clara

The BBC has announced a three day convention at ExCeL London for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Filming on the 50th Anniversary episode  begins on March 18. Presumably more information on the show, such as who is actually appearing, will be more likely to leak out when they are filming the episode. Peter Davison does not believe that the earlier Doctors played by older actors will appear:

Speaking at February’s MystiCon panel, he said: “I honestly don’t know very much. I know that Steven Moffat will have something planned. I don’t think it will involve the older Doctors, certainly in their present form, because of course we’re meant to look exactly as we did when we left the TARDIS and none of us really do. Some of us are not here any more and others of us have weathered less well than others. I don’t know where I’d put myself in that category. I’m not going to make that decision.

“I think we’ll be featured somewhere but I should think it’s probably footage lifted from older Doctor stories. I don’t know. We are doing some Big Finish audios. I know that there are events planned by the BBC. I’ve got a meeting with the head of BBC Wales when I get back to go through various things the BBC have got planned. I don’t think she’s going to offer me a part in it… I might be wrong.”

He adds: “I decided that if we weren’t going to be involved that I would get together with Colin [Baker] and Sylvester [McCoy] and make our own little special… If we can possible manage it, we’re going to get into the 50th anniversary special whether we’re invited or not!”

The Daily Beast has five facts about Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Matt Smith told The Mirror that his favorite moment on Doctor Who was kissing Jenna-Louise Coleman:

Clara and the Timelord snogged in the Christmas Day special and Matt said: “My favourite moment? I like our kiss, that was quite fun, even though it was hell to do. We actually did a couple of different versions there might be some outtakes.”

He also loves New York:

If I could film we’d film every episode of Doctor Who in New York. I have an affinity with the city. It has some wonderful locations and it is devastatingly vast and huge. Central Park looks amazing on camera.

Doctor and Clara notebook

Matt might love New York, but he cannot go back in time to whenAmy and Rory are living. We have a definitive answer as to why the Doctor will never again meet up with Amy and Rory from this interview with Steven Moffat from BlogtorWho:

Last year friend of the blog Dan Martin took time to chat with Steven Moffat about the Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1 finale, The Angels Take Manhattan  – and more specifically, “The Washington Theory”. Dan asked the current showrunner why could Amy and Rory not just travel to Washington (or Boston, or anywhere for that matter) and meet The Doctor there? Had Moffat left a useful plot thread dangling to bring the beloved companions back in a couple of years? Not so, according to Moffat…

“New York would still burn. The point being, he can’t interfere. Here’s the ‘fan answer’ – this is not what you’d ever put out on BBC One, because most people watch the show and just think, ‘well there’s a gravestone so obviously he can’t visit them again’. But the ‘fan answer’ is, in normal circumstances he might have gone back and said, ‘look we’ll just put a headstone up and we’ll just write the book’. But there is so much scar tissue, and the number of paradoxes that have already been inflicted on that nexus of timelines, that it will rip apart if you try to do one more thing. He has to leave it alone. Normally he could perform some surgery, this time too much surgery has already been performed. But imagine saying that on BBC One!”
More on the  Ponds later in the interview:
And what about return to the show for The Ponds? Moffat said, “You could never eliminate the possibility of dream sequences and flashbacks, but will the Doctor see them again? No. When I was first talking to Karen and Arthur about it, we said ‘let’s make it the proper ending’. Bringing back things just gives you sequel-itis. Just end it and get out. Heaven knows if they’ll appear in some form of flashback – I have no plans to do that I have to say – but the story of Amy and The Doctor is definitively over.”
That’s the definitive answer. Not the Doctor Who equivalent of Star Trek technobabble about that nexus of timelines that might rip apart. Doctor Who has been utterly inconsistent when dealing with the laws of time travel. The real answer is that Moffat doesn’t want them to return. His point about “sequel-itis” is more grounded in reality than the “nexus of timelines.”
None of this stops a future showrunner from having the Doctor and Amy meet again. There’s also another way to conceivably involve Amy and Rory in a Doctor Who story should Moffat or a future showrunner decide to boost ratings with such an episode. The Doctor could go back in time to Washington or anywhere else during the time in which Amy and Rory are living out their lives in the past. A story could be written in which both the Doctor and the Ponds get caught up with the same menace but are working independently and never actually meet. If this is done after the Doctor regenerates it would be possible for Amy to get a glance of the Doctor without meeting him. If she actually had much contact with him she would probably recognize him as Sarah Jane Smith recognized the Doctor.

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Last week Carrie Fisher said she would be in Star Wars VII:

Disney is going to continue the Star Wars saga, producing movies set to hit theaters starting in 2015. Can you confirm whether you’ll reprise the role of Princess Leia?

Yes.

What do you think Princess Leia is like today?

Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home [laughs].   I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.

And still wearing the bagel buns?

The bagel buns and the bikini, because probably she has sundowners syndrome. At sundown, she thinks that she’s 20-something. And she puts it on and gets institutionalized.

She subsequently said she was joking (in a statement which many have speculated Disney insisted she release). While she was undoubtedly joking about being in an old folks’ home, it does appear likely that she will appear. George Lucas told Business Week that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford have all been contacted:

Asked whether members of the original Star Wars cast will appear in Episode VII and if he called them before the deal closed to keep them informed, Lucas says, “We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ ” He pauses. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.” Then he adds: “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.”

Hulk Iron Man

Joss Whedon discussed topics including the difficulty in making movies about the Hulk and most of the DC Comics superheroes with Deadline Hollywood:

DEADLINE: What about speculation over potential Hulk spin-off stories? 
WHEDON: The Hulk is the most difficult Marvel property because it’s always about balance. Is he a monster? Is he a hero? Are you going to root for a protagonist who spends all his time trying to stop the reason you came to the movie from happening? It’s always a dance. I don’t think the first two movies nailed it, but I don’t envy them the task. It was easier to have him in a group than to build everything around him. I don’t think there would be any problem getting a movie together that had enough Banner, even if there was also Hulk. But if he was only Hulk for the entire movie I think Mark [Ruffalo] at some point would go, why am I here? I would be less inclined to pursue a storyline where the Hulk is only ever the Hulk. Mark [Ruffalo] and I loved the Hulk and went over and over the concept of rage and how it should manifest, and that part of it was fascinating to both of us. But when it comes time for the Hulk he has to put on the silliest damn pajamas you ever saw, a tiara made of balls, and a bunch of dots on his face and growl around like an idiot. The real heart of the experience ultimately becomes playing Banner. And people fell in love with Banner because I think Mark has you from the first time he shows up.

DEADLINE: How much do you keep an eye on Warner Bros with their DC properties?
WHEDON: I don’t keep that close an eye on it. But I loved Batman Begins so much and thought Christopher Nolan nailed Batman in a way that nobody ever had. It couldn’t be more different from The Avengers, and the Marvel and DC universes are different animals. If they actually crack the code which has not been done in terms of creating a shared sensibilities where all the movies are interesting and come together, I’m going to be thrilled. I have no fear that we’re going to be stepping on each others’ turf.

DEADLINE: You’ve had a history with DC. Do you think anyone will ever pull off Wonder Woman?
WHEDON: It’s not easy. It’s not a simple trick. The Marvel properties with the exception of Batman who has often been described as the Marvel character in the DC universe are much easier to translate to a modern audience. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern are so far above us and their powers are amorphous and that makes it 10 times harder. Even when you’re doing a fight, it’s harder to write a fight for Thor than it is for Captain America because he’s that much stronger. I loved what I was doing on Wonder Woman. Clearly I was an excited party of one. I wrote the movie, I felt good about the characters, the structure needed work, I did another outline, they read it and were done. There wasn’t even a phone call.

The difficulties which Whedon raised in superhero stories are complicated even more when the viewer is aware that the hero has a bunch of other superheroes as friends to call on. Marvel President Kevin Feige does address the question as to why Tony Stark doesn’t call in the other Avengers for help in Iron Man 3:

It’s a good question, and it’s sort of half and half. I am betting that like the comics you don’t have to keep – if you are reading a standalone “Iron Man” comic, they don’t spend every page explaining where every other Marvel hero is. The audience kind of accepts that there are times when they’re on their own and there are times when they are together. I’m betting that movie audiences will feel the same way. That being said, there is a little bit of lip service here and there to that. There is also just the very nature of Tony wants to, once he barely survives that house attack you saw today, and even you saw it in the message he left for Pepper, he’s basically saying “I’m going off the grid to try to figure something out.”

Christopher Nolan says he does not want to return to Batman, but is involved with other superheroes, producing Man of Steel and possibly Justice League. His next movie about black holes, Interstellar, will be released on November 14, 2014.

Deadline Hollywood reports that a series by Ron Moore has been picked up by SyFy:

Syfy has finalized a 13-episode straight-to-series order to Helix, a dark thriller from Ronald D. Moore, marking Battlestar Galactica developer/executive producer’s return to the network. Steven Maeda (Lost, CSI: Miami) has come on board as showrunner of the project, written by Cameron Porsandeh. Helix, from Sony Pictures TV, where Moore and his Tall Ship Prods are under an overall deal, is about a team of scientists investigating a possible disease outbreak Hot In Cleveland) and Maeda executive produce, with Porsandeh serving as co-executive producer. “With its well-drawn characters, taut drama, and incredible production team, we couldn’t be more excited to see this intense thrill-ride of a series come to life,” said Syfy’s president of original content Mark Stern. Helix is expected to begin production early in 2013 to debut later this year. In addition to hit Battlestar Galactica, Moore also co-created and executive produced Syfy’s prequel series Caprica.

SyFy is moving the final five episodes of Merlin to May. And people wonder why fans often download genre shows as opposed to waiting five months or more to view them.


Ashley Judd has reportedly told advisers that she does plan to run for the Senate against Mitch McConnell. The actress, best known to Star Trek fans as Robin Lefler, has been attacked by the right wing for everything from her residency to nude scenes she as done. Attack of the Show chose Ashley Judd as the fourth Hottest Women of Star Trek (video above). She also has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has been a Democratic activist.

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, one of the stars of Utopia, believes that continuing the story into a second season may or may not work:

Do you think there is scope for a second series of Utopia?
“I think there is scope for a second series, but I also think that it is self-contained. It really does depend. Sometimes you think things could have carried on or things aren’t resolved, and people can get annoyed by that.

“But some pieces of work don’t have a resolution and they leave you to figure it out, and that’s great. Utopia could carry on, but resolution isn’t always good.”

Io9 lists twenty things which Back To The Future got wrong about the future.

SciFi Weekend: Caprica Returning Next Month; Awards for Doctor Who; New Use For The Tardis; Best Television Episodes Ever Aired; No More Heroes; Replacing Michael Scott

SyFy divided up the first season of Caprica into two parts, ending the first half with major cliff hangers. The show was originally to air this fall but was then moved back to January. This week they announced plans to move it back up to start on October 5. No decision has been made on whether to film a second season, with the actors’ contracts extended until November. Moving up the start of the second half of the series provides an opportunity to see how the show does before the decision is made.  Hopefully ratings will be up.

Ron Moore might also be getting a new show on network television. As part of Moore’s development deal with Sony, there is consideration for developing a show described as “a police procedural that heavily involves the use of magic” for NBC. Airlock Alpha has more information.

Doctor Who won as Best Family Drama at the the TV Choice Awards 2010 in London, taking place a day after the show won a Hugo award.  The current series’ lead character Matt Smith has won as Best Actor in GQ’s Men of the Year Awards. Above is Smith with his girl friend, model Daisy Lowe. There have been rumors this week that Smith is proposing to Lowe.

While signing boxes for her action figure, Karen Gillan discussed the growth of her character:

Karen Gillan has described filming Doctor Who as an “emotionally draining” experience.

The Scottish actress, who shot to fame as the Doctor’s assistant Amy Pond, said she was looking forward to changing her character in the next series of the BBC sci-fi show.

She said: “I think that she’s a completely different person at the end of the series to when we meet her, when she’s really quite odd and a bit messed up in the first episode.”

The 22-year-old added: “I think she’s much more kind of in tune with what she understands about herself mostly and the Doctor by the end of the series. And she’s been through a lot in the series.

“It’s been pretty emotionally draining. Just all the stuff when she was crying and she doesn’t know why she’s crying – that was quite a challenge. But I think there’s a lot more to come in the next series. I really want to just keep on developing her character and I want her to evolve and change lots.”

We know that the Tardis has far more room inside than it appears to have from the outside. This would make the Tardis great for storage. In the picture above a 1 TB drive has been crammed into the model Tardis, showing it really can store a tremendous amount of material. That’s more than enough space for DivX downloads of all the episodes of Doctor Who and its spin offs which remain available.

SyFy has compiled a list of ten of the best science fiction television episodes that ever aired. The list is limited to one episode from any given show.  Blink from Doctor Who made the list. Some of the other notable episodes include City on the Edge of Forever, often considered the best episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. Yesterday’s Enterprise was a good choice from Star Trek: The Next Generation. X-Files was represented by Home, Battlestar Galactica by 33, and Lost by The Constant.

Heroes didn’t have any episodes make the list, and won’t get an opportunity to resolve the series-ending cliff hanger. NBC has decided against going ahead with a television movie to wrap it up.

It might be a long time before we find out about the succession plans for when Steve Carrell leaves The Office after this season. The second half of the season will deal with Michael Scott leaving but his replacement in the season finale might not become the show’s new star:

By season’s end, one character will have Scott’s job — but that person is not necessarily Carell’s replacement as the show’s star. Sources say writers are tempted to have the character who becomes the Scranton branch’s new boss fail in some spectacular manner, leaving the seat open again for another successor during Season 8.

One radical notion being explored is the possibility of subtly shifting the show’s point of view so that a current character is the star instead of the boss.

As for replacing Scott with a new manager, sources say the network and producers are on the same page.

“You’re looking for someone who can start stories,” a source said. “Someone whose judgment isn’t necessarily one where when an issue comes up and a boss with a correct judgment would quickly settle it and then you have no episode. You’re also looking for somebody who considers the rest of the office his family.”

Fox Reports On Those Who Believe The Conspiracy Theories They Have Been Spreading

There’s nothing really surprising in this story. We already knew that the tea party movement is dominated by people from the far right, and that these people are prone to believing conspiracy theories. What is surprising is the source–Fox. The story not only reports on the falsehoods widely believed by those at Tea Party rallies, but even points out that they are untrue:

…while organizers have held the tour as a way to stay front-and-center as a political force, the rallies have also attracted the kinds of mistruths, exaggerations and conspiracy theories that make Tea Party leaders cringe. Though the movement is still trying to shore up its credentials as a grassroots power that’s here to stay, the so-called “fringe” and its accompanying antics continue to give critics fodder.

“Obama, to me, is a socialist. He’s a Muslim and all he wants to do is bankrupt us and run us into the ground,” Ken Schwalbach of Escanaba, Mich., said at a rally on Friday.

Though Obama is a Christian — and his Christian faith was a focal point of debate during the campaign-era controversy over his former pastor Jeremiah Wright — the allegations that the president is a secret Muslim persist years later.

The charge of socialism has been a common theme at Tea Party gatherings — but some activists have gone beyond merely portraying Obama as a European-style, big-government liberal.

Some suggest Obama wants to keep Americans unemployed so that they become dependent on government-run programs. Lenin and Stalin have become catchwords to describe Obama in the speeches denouncing his policies.

Going further, swastikas, as well as pictures of Obama’s face next to Adolf Hitler’s, have appeared on signs at dozens of rallies blasting the president and the Democrat-controlled Congress.

Other Tea Party members continue to question the president’s citizenship — a sign reading “Show Us Your Birth Certificate” popped up at a recent rally in Traverse City, Mich.

“What’s more disturbing is that he’s not answering them,” Tea Party member and conservative blogger Andrea Shay King said of the questions over Obama’s birthplace.

The Hawaiian government twice confirmed during the 2008 presidential election that a copy of Obama’s birth certificate was authentic. Factcheck.org tracked down the birth certificate and posted copies of it online.

Questionable characterizations of the massive health care legislation have also resurfaced at Tea Party gatherings.

Ron Moore of Petoskey, Mich., said he stood firm in his belief that the Democrats’ goal was to implement “death panels” to decide who receives medical care and who does not.

“They’ve already started,” he said.

It is good to see any source point out that these beliefs of the far right are false. However, as Think Progress points out, Fox is responsible for spreading many of these false beliefs:

But of course, one of the primary reasons that so many of these right-wing activists believe these conspiracies is because Fox News has pushed them. For example, the “birther” conspiracy has been advanced on Fox News websites. The “death panels” myth has been advocated by Fox News personalities Peter Johnson Jr, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Brian Kilmeade, and Michelle Malkin, among others.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and Short Skirts; Capria and Another BSG Spinoff; Lost; Star Trek Meets Zombies

Doctor Who begins on BBC America on April 17. A trailer for the upcoming season is above.

Above is a BBC interview with the new Doctor, Matt Smith.

Blogator Who has a BBC Breakfast interview with new show runner Steven Moffatt. Karen Gillan, who will play the Doctor’s new companion, told The Observer (via IO9) that her character Amy likes to wear short skirts:

Amy’s a sassy lady, funny and passionate, and her relationship with the doctor has a really interesting dynamic… She has a love for him, a really deep love for him. But not romantic. It’s been an education in itself to work with Matt, who’s so endlessly inventive, bringing something new to it every day rather than falling into the easy default scared-face. That’s one of the challenges; you’re faced with life-threatening situations every episode, but you can’t just widen your eyes all the time. Yes, this doctor is preeeetty good. As, I’ve said, is Amy, and she gets to wear all these small skirts, which I will admit was very cold, but also very cool. They originally wanted to put me in trousers, but I did say I’d like to wear a skirt because – you’ll understand when you watch it. Actually I think I love Amy. I’m in love with her. I want to be her.

I imagine the short skirts have something to do with her work as a kissogram.

Caprica had another excellent episode this week involving searches for the cyberspace survivors of the dead daughters from each of the key families of the series. The show worked well with the contrast between the more cerebral cat and mouse game played by Graystone with the more adventurous journey by Adama in New Cap City.  With this Battlestar Galactica prequel being a success we might see more. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Syfy also is looking to continue its popular “Battlestar” franchise.

When asked about the chances of its modestly performing spinoff “Caprica” getting a renewal, Stern was bullish. He pointed to the show recently hitting a series high in the adult demographic using Live+7 ratings, drawing 1.6 million viewers and 913,000 adults 18-49.

“We have a lot of hope for that show,” Stern said. “The (DVR data) has been very promising and growing week after week. The ratings don’t reflect the potential audience.”

The network also is looking to order another “Battlestar”-related project. Details were slim, but Stern said the title would mark a return to the franchise’s space-opera roots.

“We’re looking for other ways to spin off ‘Battlestar’ beyond ‘Caprica,’” he said. “That world is so rich. We’re sitting down with (executive producer) Ron Moore and his team. It would not necessarily be a traditional series.”

There is speculation that such a show would concentrate on the first Cylon War. While the stories are all fantasy, Script PhD has an interview with Professor Malcolm MacIver of Northwestern who has consulted on Tron and Caprica discussing the science behind the show.

In other genre shows this week, Lost looked at Sawyer’s past in the alternate reality. When the bomb went off the initial thought was that if this worked everyone would be in the position they would be in if the plane never crashed. Instead it turns out that Jacob and perhaps others from the island were influencing them for years. With the island not around, there lives have been different in the other reality for many years.  It is not clear if this is sufficient to explain it or if there is something else about this reality we do not yet know, but Sawyer’s life is considerably different. Rather than turning to a life of crime he would be being a police officer. The connections between different characters continues as Miles was his partner and he even hooked up with Charlotte.

Flash Forward returned with a two hour episode which gave some explanations but had very low ratings, making renewal appear unlikely.

Warner Brothers is claiming that everything is fine after they no longer have the Harry Potter franchise:

And at today’s Showest presentation, WB head honcho Alan Horn confirmed the news.  I forget exactly what he said on stage, but it’s essentially what I heard: DC Superheroes are coming and they’d replace Harry Potter.

The thing you need to realize is under Alan Horn, Warner Bros. instituted a tent pole release strategy which calls for a few event films to be made every year.  For the last decade, Harry Potter has been used to fill the release calendar and now that the franchise is ending after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the studio needs  need blood to take it’s place and a new way of earning the huge money that only tent pole releases can generate.

Enter DC Superheroes.

While nothing is officially on the calendar yet, I’ve heard in 2012 we’re getting not only a new Batman movie…but The Flash!  I’ve heard the studio is currently talking to directors and they’ll announce who it is when they’ve found the right choice.

Again, The Flash isn’t confirmed, but I’m telling you, it’s the next new superhero movie at Warner Bros. and we’re going to hear about it soon.

As a comic book movie junkie, I am beyond excited WB is finally getting into the game with their unbelievable library of characters.

This will provide for a number of movie ideas, but I wonder how many will have the wide spread appeal of the Harry Potter movies.

And, finally, Geeks of Doom reports that Star Trek meets Zombies:

Quirk Books is adding a new zombie tale to their collection with Night of the Living Trekkies, a novel by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall which sees Trekkies at a convention meet the undead!

The publisher, which is known for its literary monster mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, hails the book as the “strange lovechild of Galaxy Quest and Dawn of the Dead.”

When hordes of the undead come to feast upon the attendees at a Star Trek convention, a group of Trekkies fight for their lives using everything they’ve learned from old Star Trek episodes.

More detail is also provided:

This sci-fi/zombie/comedy/adventure follows a group of rag-tag Trekkies getting together for the fifth annual GulfCon (billed as the “largest Starfleet Convention in the western Gulf Coast region”).

Our heroes are dressed in homemade uniforms and armed with prop phasers-but soon find themselves defending their hotel and convention center against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Suddenly, all of their useless knowledge about particle physics and old Star Trek episodes has genuine real-world applications! And while hotel employees and regular civilians are dying left and right, our Trekkies summon strength and courage by emulating their favorite starship-voyaging characters.

Packed with hundreds of gags referencing Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, and fan conventions, Night of the Living Trekkies reads like the strange lovechild of Galaxy Quest and Dawn of the Dead. Journey to the final frontier of zombie science-fiction satire!

Possibly The Worst Remake Ever

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Well, I’ve now made it through all six hours of the remake of The Prisoner. It wasn’t easy. As a huge fan of the original I had to see this, but it was a real bore. I’ll probably write a more detailed review later, but the main problem is that it totally missed the meaning of the original. A lot was thrown in which simply made no sense. In the end the Village revealed to be helping people but besides being a radical change from the original this did not even seem consistent with the prior episodes.

Some remakes make sense but this did not. It didn’t matter that Ron Moore totally changed the concept of Battlestar Galactica in his remake since the original was such a weak show, but there’s no point in re-imagining a show as great as The Prisoner and minimizing what made it great. This included aspects such as the attempt to discover why Six resigned and, more importantly, the underlying theme of fighting for the right of the individual to be individual.

The remake took as much from The Matrix as from Patrick McGoohan’s original version of The Prisoner. The two actual sequels to The Matrix were already pretty bad.  This was worse. Besides similarities from the pills to the Village existing in the mind , this remake and the sequels to The Matrix have something else in common: they should never have been made.

SciFi Weekend: A Virtual Wreck; The Next Doctor

Virtuality

Ron Moore’s Virtuality was shown on Friday night and, after viewing, I can see why Fox left it to die by airing it on a Friday night in June. Moore just tries to throw too much into this, which perhaps would have left him with many avenues for future television series but it leaves the pilot looking like a mess.

The premise is that a ship is on a ten year mission to another solar system and, to keep the crew from going nuts or killing each other, virtual reality is used. This is to keep the crew from feeling claustrophobic and to allow them to interact with other people, even if only computer generated. The claim is that this is not a series of holodeck stories because each crew member uses their own goggles (like the virtual reality in Caprica) as opposed to being in a specific room as in Star Trek. That hardly matters.

Of course something goes wrong  in the simulations (as in Life on Mars). As this was intended to be a pilot we have a lot of mysteries and no answers. We don’t know if it is a computer glitch, a crew member messing with the programs, or perhaps Cylons influencing the ship. Crew members are attacked in their simulations, and one is even raped.  One good aspect of the show was to treat the virtual rape as meaningful to the woman involved as it had the same psychological impact as if real.

The virtual reality simulations aren’t the only place where something goes wrong. Perhaps 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL is involved as there is even a murder involving the air lock.

If this already seems to be throwing ideas from many sources together, it gets worse. The crew is also being filmed as the cast of a reality television series. It was amusing when Doctor Who used reality series for one episode (Bad Wolf), but this was too much for a pilot. The idea is that the company running the mission might also be playing mind games with the crew to affect their behavior and improve ratings.

If they haven’t already thrown in enough, there is yet another crisis. After they left it was suddenly found that global warming is real and life on earth is doomed (especially if you live around London or Florida).

With all this, the show still managed to deal briefly with events of the space mission. A lot of time was spent creating false drama as to whether the mission would go on or return to earth as they approached their last moment  to decide this. Of course viewers realized they would go on. Even when the captain announced this to the crew there was still false drama when they complained that the captain made the decision to go without consulting the crew. There was more time wasted as everyone got a chance to vote, and all voted to go.

This was intended to be largely a show about people in space but with twelve crew members it was difficult to really get interested in any of them. Perhaps if the show made it as a series this would have provided for more potential stories.

BBC America aired the first of this year’s Doctor Who specials. I previously reviewed The Next Doctor here when it originally aired on the BBC.

SciFi Weekend: The Plan, Vintage Doctor Who Credits, Virtuality, and Summer Shows

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SciFi Wire has information on The Plan–an upcoming Battlestar Galactica movie told from the point of view of the Cylons which will air this September:

Edward James Olmos, who directed the upcoming DVD movie Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, told an audience of fans that the film will deliver exactly what they expect it to: The Plan shows the Cylons’ perspective on their attempted genocide of humanity.

“I gotta tell you, not to give anything away, it is exactly what you think it is,” Olmos said in a panel discussion Thursday night in Hollywood as part of the Los Angeles Times series The Envelope. “You see the complete opposite of the first 281 days of what we went through, … seen through the eyes of the Cylons, and it is breathtaking. It’s fantastic. It’s not fun, but I will say that you will sit there [gasping].”

Perhaps The Plan will also drive sales of BSG complete-season DVDs. “Basically, you will go back to see the series again,” Olmos said. “I couldn’t have imagined this kind of a situation happening at the end of a show, where you would actually start at the beginning. That’s a masterful piece of understanding, Ron [Moore]. Genius. Because after you see The Plan, you’ll want to go back and view the whole series again.”

The DVD release of The Plan will feature more than 30 minutes of additional Cylon perspective than will air in the version that will air on SCI FI. “The Plan is 2 hours and 6 minutes long the way you’re going to have it on the DVD. When you see it aired, it’s going to be 88 minutes.

I wish they would release the DVD the same day as the television version, if not earlier. Otherwise it becomes necessary to either hold off on watching when it first airs or watch a repeat of much of the show to see the extra material. My bet is that there will be a delay so they can maximize ratings and then make money off the DVD sales. Obviously there’s no reason why they could not air the entire show on television other than the desire to pick up the extra DVD sales.

New Scientist has an interview with Kevin Fong, lecturer in space medicine at University College London, on the science of Battlestar Galactica.

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When Steven Moffat takes over Doctor Who next season he is going to restore a tradition for the original series which was dropped in the remakes. Traditionally the opening of Doctor Who included a picture of the current Doctor with the time vertex swirling behind. This was dropped when the series returned, but next season Matt Smith will be seen in the opening.

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Ron Moore’s pilot episode of Virtuality was originally planned to air around the Fourth of July holiday but Fox has moved it up to June 26. The show is about a space ship on a ten year mission in which the crew uses virtual reality to keep sane, but a virus gets into the system. It sounds like a cross between the old holodeck episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Life on Mars. The show is currently being aired as a made for television series with the hope that Fox will pick it up as a series. That way fans can get more involved in the show before Fox pulls the plug.

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ABC is spending the summer showing the final episodes of shows which didn’t make it during the regular season (as NBC is also doing with Kings.) Variety reports that there will be new episodes of one series which is returning. Six unaired episodes of Better off Ted will be aired on Tuesdays starting on June 23. Thirteen episodes will air next season as the series is paired with Scrubs. Scrubs is returning with Zach Braf to appear in six of the episodes to tie up the old story lines and transition the show to a new format.

I have bad feelings about a long running show which tries to change its format in such a manner. Even spin offs are variable in their success. NBC did well with Frasier as a spin off of Cheers but this was largely successful as it was a totally new show where viewers did not see it as missing the other characters from Cheers. The two characters from Better off Ted in the picture above both show different examples of NBC failing in their attempts to replace Friends. Andrea Anders was previously in Joey, the failed spin off. Jay Harrington was in the US version of Coupling, which was seen as a replacement for Friends but failed to pull off the excellence of the BBC show it was based upon. (Coupling incidentally, was written by Steven Moffat, who is taking over as show runner of Doctor Who, tying into an above item).

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Besides the mostly failed shows to air on the networks this summer, there are several cable shows to look forward to. This includes True Blood which returns next week, with a promo above.

AMC will be airing Mad Men starting in mid-August with a promo above. They are saying little about what will occur next season but reportedly it will take place some time after Betty’s child is born. They have confirmed that that  Don Draper is the father despite Betty’s brief affair (in retaliation for Don’s many affairs). While the Cuban Missile Crisis provided a backdrop for the second season there is  speculation that the new season will occur at the time of John F. Kennedy’s assasination. Series creator creator Matthew Weiner has  stated in interviews that this has already been done on many shows and expressed reluctance to deal with the topic again.

SciFi Weekend: Imagining Windy; Shooting Ben; Caroline’s Past; and Battlestar Galactica Alternative Endings

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Last week Friday night dominated science fiction television with the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica. I’ll have more on that later, but this week Wednesday was the top  night. Life on Mars aired its second from the last episode, Everyone Knows It’s Windy. I wish I knew if this episode was made with knowledge that the show was ending, and was intended to lead towards the end, or if this was just another episode with clues which didn’t really go anywhere. Eariler we had the Aires Project. This episode featured the Aries Toy Company. I doubt this is a coincidence, but what about having a character named Frank Morgan playing a key role? Frank Morgan was also the name of the actor who played the Wizard of Oz. Is Sam over the rainbow?

It now looks like Windy is a figment of Sam’s imagination. That wasn’t much of a surprise. The bigger question is whether everything is a figment of Sam’s imagination, or the product of some type of mind control experiment. (If she was in Sam’s imagination, why didn’t he do more than play checkers with her?) Morgan gave Sam the impression of knowing what is going on but Annie let him know that Morgan had read Sam’s file. When we thought we knew how Morgan knew about Sam and the future he confused the issue by knowing about the fourth Raiders of the Lost Arc movie which Sam didn’t seem to think was in his file. Could this mean Morgan really does know what is happening with Sam? Of course if everything is happening in Sam’s head this wouldn’t really matter. The scene with Sam on the ledge was also similar to a scene in the British version.

The other development is that Sam and Annie are now closer. Unfortunately Sam only has one more episode with her.

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Lost is getting back to a regular pattern of having the key characters back in the 1970’s living with the Dharma Initiative before Ben killed them all off. The episodes contain flashbacks which I suspect will concentrate on the period off the island. Others such as Sun are on along journey to join the rest in the past. We learned how Sayeed wound up on the plane and the big shock of the episode was seeing him shoot young Ben. Assuming Daniel Faraday is right, it is not possible to change major events and Ben will live. However, we have seen that Desmond’s future behavior was changed as a consequence of Faraday’s acts. Perhaps this act will have an impact on Ben’s actions, or perhaps it happened all along and was a motivating factor for him.

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Back on Fridays, Dollhouse has had two solid episodes in a row which were much better than the first five. The mythology of the show was significantly advanced last week. The number of actives has increased, including the revelation that Mellie was one and seeing a new recruit. I was surprised that they had Mellie return to the Dollhouse considering that Ballard was still searching for the Dollhouse despite being taken off the case.

This week’s episode, Echoes, was the first to reveal more information about Caroline’s past. The puzzling thing is that we saw her get into trouble but hardly enough to be consistent with the desperate situation she was in when “recruited.” I suspect we will see more of this story in the future, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Dollhouse made Caroline’s situation even worse to force her to join. The dolls regain their memories in next week’s episode and perhaps we will learn more of their back stories.

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With Battlestar Galactica over Ron Moore has talked about the show but hasn’t revealed very much. He said a little about one of the mysteries I was wondering about last week regarding Starbuck:

We made a conscious decision to say, “We’re going to leave this opaque.” You can certainly say that she’s an angel or a demon or some other form of life. We know from the show that she died a mortal death, she was brought back to life in some way, and then she fulfilled a certain destiny and guided them all to Earth. What does that mean? And who is she really? It was a conscious creative decision to say, “This is as much as we’re going to tell you, and she’s connected to some greater truth.” The more we try to answer what that greater truth is, the less interesting it becomes, and we just decided to leave it more of a mystery. I am sure that there will be a cadre of people who are angry that they never got a more definitive answer, but we just decided not to do that.

He said a little more about Starbuck in an interview with TV Guide:

TVGuide.com: What exactly is Kara at the end of the series? An angel?
Moore: I think Kara remains an ambiguous figure. Kara lived a mortal life, died and was resurrected to get them to their final destiny. Clearly she was a key player in the events that led to [the fleet’s] finding a home. And, I don’t know if there’s any more to it beyond that. I think you could call her an angel, you could call her a demon, the second coming or the first coming, I guess, chronologically speaking. You can say that she had a certain messiah-like quality, in the classic resurrection story. There’s a lot of different ways you can look at it, but the more we talked about it, the more we realized there was more in the ambiguity and mystery of it than there was in trying to give it more definition in the end.

TVGuide.com: So she is completely different than the hallucination/visions of Baltar and Six?
Moore: Yes, Kara was physically among us. Everybody saw her. She was tactile, she flew a viper, she was around. She was with us. And yet, there was a body that died on the original Earth, and Baltar did the DNA analysis and it was her body, so she was literally brought back from the dead by something — by some higher power or other power, and she came back to serve a function.

Moore also talked about the extended scenes on the upcoming DVD and there has been talk online about alternative endings which had been considered before deciding on the final ending. One alternative had Ellen join up with Cavil after learning that Tigh had inpregnated a Six. Here is another alternative endng:

Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ron Moore has been discussing last week’s series finale with fans on the BSG forum, where he dropped an interesting tidbit about an ending that might have been.

In this version of the story, the Galactica herself ends up on Earth instead of being flown into the sun, and she also manages to show up in our present-day timeline:

“There was a point in the development process where we discussed the idea of the Galactica not being destroyed, but having somehow landed on the surface more or less intact, but unable to ever get into orbit again (the particulars here were never worked out, so don’t ask how she made it down without being torn apart). We talked about them basically abandoning the ship and moving out into the world.

“Cut to the present-day in Central America where there are these enormous mysterious mounds that archeologists have not been able to understand (it may have been South America, I can’t recall the exact location, but these mounds really do exist). Someone is doing a new kind of survey of the mounds with some kind of ground-penetrating radar or something and lo and behold, we see the outlines of the Galactica still buried under the surface.”

Moore said they ultimately didn’t go with the ending because they wouldn’t have been able to reconcile it with the “reality” of the series.

“It was an intriguing idea and we bandied it about for a while, but ultimately rejected it as a little too cute and also felt that it would violate our contemporary reality, in essence ‘branching off’ the BSG story in 2009 into an parallel reality where a battlestar was discovered in Central America. I wanted the end of the show to directly relate to us, not to a world where that event had occurred.”

While this would have avoided the questionable decisions to give up technology and destroy the fleet, I agree with their reasons for not using this ending.

SciFi Weekend: The Battlestar Galactica Series Finale

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Battlestar Galactica concluded on Friday. (Caution, this review has a tremendous number of spoilers if anyone interested is not up to the finale.) The finale could not be expected to be one hundred percent satisfying as science fiction shows of this nature tend to throw out far more than can ever have an entirely satisfactory explanation. While far from perfect, the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica holds up quite well next to explanations of the mythology behind shows such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, and The X-Files.

It came as no surprise, with all the talk of things happening before and happening again, that Galactica wound up on  Earth in our distant past. Once we saw them cross the moon and land on our Earth I quickly guessed that they would name this planet Earth based upon their dream, and after the original Earth that we had seen after its destruction.

Having them arrive on Earth  in our distant past and become part of our heritage made more sense than to have them arrive in our present or future.  The show frequently foreshadowed the importance of Hera for the survival of both humans and Cylons and this became evident during the finale. Hera was revealed to be the Mitochondrial Eve, the ancestor of all humans, with Ron Moore doing a cameo as a man reading an article on the topic (pictured above). This suggests that only the descendants of Hera survived, despite  the talk of interbreeding with the indigenous population. Presumably Hera or her descendants did interbreed with the indigenous population but what of the rest? With some, such as Adama and Tyrol, living on their own it makes sense but there were also many others. Perhaps the mitochondria from Hera came from her mixed Human/Cylon heritage and descendants of others appeared the same to contemporary human biologists.

The original show had the simplistic concept of the evil Cylons attacking the good humans. Instead Moore desired a more complicated message which blurred the lines between the two. The finale does answer the question of whether we are all Cylons.  The finding of the original Earth which had been populated by human-like Cylons suggested that, assuming that this was our Earth, we are all Cylons. The ending, with Hera as the Mitochondrial Eve, instead makes us all part human and part Cylon.

Having everyone agree to give up their technology so easily was  questionable  but necessary for the overall idea of them being our ancestors. Once the decision was made, it is certainly plausible that knowledge of advanced technology quickly died out as they had to concentrate on basic survival. They did perhaps manage to preserve enough of their ideas to lead to the redevelopment of a technological society with many of the same cultural ideas.

Having them be our ancestors with a form of species memory explains the many similarities between colonial culture and our own culture. This even included the music such as All Along the Watchtower which was ultimately reinvented by Bob Dylan.

There were other possible paths other than to have them voluntarily give up their technology. One possibility, which would have been more plausible but which would have led to a far longer story, would have been a catastrophe which led to the destruction of any civilization they attempted to build.

There is yet another possible way to have written this. Ron Moore could have written an ending in which Adama insisted they could not contaminate the indigenous population with their technology as this would violate the Prime Directive. This, of course, would have been the wrong show.

Ultimately we must accept the decision as necessary to complete the mythology of the show. We must also suspend disbelief and simply accept the fact that there were humans which they were genetically compatible with on this second Earth. While this was common place in the Star Trek universe, the universe of Battlestar Galactica did not previously include life independent of the descendants of Kobol.

There are still many mysteries. Some might be answered in The Plan, a made for television movie to air this fall which shows the events from the Cylon perspective.  Perhaps we will also learn more when the pilot to Caprica is released on DVD next month.

There are two major mysteries which still concern me. The first is the nature of Starbuck, both before and after her death. As a child she somehow learned the music which would lead her to taking the fleet to the new Earth. She later died on the original Earth and was resurrected to complete this task. This was an important part of the overall story, and I assume this remained unexplained as there is probably no satisfactory explanation other that that there are beings (or angels) which are important but unexplained. If there were higher powers guiding what was occurring, why didn’t they prevent the near annihilation  of all humans?

There is yet another type of being or angel (or demon) besides Starbuck. It became clear that Head Six and Head Baltar are real and not figments of Baltar and Six’s respective imaginations. Their existence even transcended those of the real Baltar and Six and the series ended with the two walking in modern Times Square (as earlier spoilers hinted at) as there were signs of humanity again developing robots.

This ending suggests that what happened before may or may not happen again, depending upon what we do. This does raise a certain question about the wisdom of the decision to destroy their technology in hopes of breaking the cycle. All this might have done was to stop the cycle for 150,000 years. This is a long time, and if the cycle couldn’t be stopped this could be said to be of value. The question is whether other plans would have done more to break the cycle (along with leaving defenses if the toasters had ever returned).

The humanoid Cylons from the original Earth traveled to the Colonies with the hope of breaking the cycle by warning the humans against mistreatment of artificial intelligence. They arrived too late, after the toaster Cylons had begun their rebellion. Perhaps it would have been wiser to maintain their technology and culture which would have included history of what happened including warnings against repeating the same mistakes. Instead the present people of new Earth have no knowledge of these warnings–unless perhaps Ron Moore wrote Battlestar Galactica out of a species memory which was to protect us against this.

Of course rebuilding their culture along with knowledge of history to prevent the reocurrence of this cycle might not have worked. The Cylons of the original Earth also created their own culture and ultimately forgot their history. They wound up repeating the cycle and created their own Cylons which led to their destruction. This could have been used as an argument for the route they did take, but the ending might have been more satisfying if these matters had been discussed. Fortunately the show did end with plenty for us to still think about and discuss.

SciFi Weekend: Battlestar Galactica at UN Before Finale; Dolls and Victor’s Man Reaction; Doctor Who and Torchwood News

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We are down to only two  hours of Battlestar Galactica (not counting at least one planned television movie) with the second part of the finale to air Friday. Ron Moore has discussed the finale:

THR: Legacy question: Is there anything about sci-fi shows that you think “Galactica” has changed?

Moore: One of the goals going into it (was) we wanted to make a sci-fi show that was relevant and spoke to our times and dealt with real issues that approached the drama in a naturalistic way and made it “real.” If we’re able to define a legacy of asking other shows to do the same in the genre and keep sci fi going in a way that tackles meaningful ideas and challenge audience expectations, I think that would be a great thing.

If Moore’s goal was to tackle meaningful ideas, it looks like some people at the U.N. believe he has succeeded. A panel discussion on the show is planned at the United Nations:

On March 17, there will be a “Battlestar” retrospective at the U.N. in New York and a panel discussion of how the show examined issues such as “human rights, children and armed conflict, terrorism, human rights and reconciliation and dialogue among civilizations and faith,” according to Sci Fi.

The “Battlestar” contingent on the panel will consist of executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, as well as stars Mary McDonnell (who plays president Laura Roslin on the show) and Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama).

UN representatives on the panel are Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber, deputy director of the New York office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Robert Orr, assistant secretary-general for policy planning, executive office of the Secretary-General.

The panel will be moderated by “Battlestar” fan Whoopi Goldberg.

The invitation-only panel will take place at 7 p.m. March 17 in the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council Chamber, three days before the Sci Fi show’s series finale.

The Sci-Fi Channel will be recording the session and a transcript will be released.

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Friday will be a big day for science fiction. Besides the Battlestar Galactica series finale, Dollhouse will be having an episode which promises to advance the mythology of the show. This week’s episode provided more suggestions that the “dolls” are not wiped clean as much as was initially suggested. The main story involved Echo infiltrating a cult which was almost forced to commit mass suicide. She was working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms but I”m not sure how we have one government agent trying to prove whether the Dollhouse even exists while another wound up hiring their services.

In terms of advancing the mythology, the most significant event was when it was discovered that Victor was having erections when showering with Sierra. For the benefit of non-viewers who might wonder why this is remarkable, the “dolls” are supposed to be in a child-like state between being programmed for missions. They supposedly lack sexuality and all take coed showers together. Victor apparently is not as childlike as they believed, and we have received suggestions that the same might be true of Echo.

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There have been rumors for the several days that when Matt Smith takes over as The Doctor, his companion on Doctor Who will be played by Hannah Murray. Murray was previously on the BBC show Skins.

There’s still a few episodes to go with David Tennant. Current  plans are for only two episodes in 2009 beginning with the Easter special, Planet of the Dead with Michelle Ryan. Lindsay Duncan will play The Doctor’s companion in the Christmas special which will have the return of the Ood. The planned third special for this year has been pushed back into 2010 but might air as early as New Year’s Day. It will be the final appearance for David Tenant and will take place on Mars. Peter O’Brien  reportedly will be playing the villain.

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While there are only three more televised episodes planned with The Doctor, the format leaves open many more stories as there could be hundreds of years between each special. I’m sure there will be many more Doctor Who novels and a comic book series is planned. Maybe they will fill in the gaps in the River Song storyline after Song (played by Alex Kingston) revealed that The Doctor will become involved with her in his future (and her past).

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Wired has spoken with director Euros Lynn about the upcoming Torchwood miniseries:

“When we catch up to our characters, they’ve mourned the loss of Owen (played by Burn Gorman) and Tosh (Naoko Mori) and are trying to move on,” Lyn explained. Owen and Tosh sacrificed themselves to save their friends in the second season’s finale.

“For the first time, we’ll see Torchwood facing a threat from home while they’re also investigating an alien invasion. When they try to discover why all the children in the world have suddenly stopped at the same time, Torchwood also has to deal with human beings who are trying to hide a past mistake.”

Here is a trailer for the series:

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