SciFi Weekend: Torchwood: Miracle Day Episode 2; Ricky Gervais In A TARDIS, Dexter Trailer, Friday Night Lights Movie Proposed, Kinky Sex From The Girls of Community

Torchwood: Miracle Day Episode 2, Rendition, continued where the first episode ended. Major spoilers for UK readers who won’t receive the episode on the BBC until Thursday. (I wonder how many really wait as opposed to downloading. Despite talk of different scenes in each version, the first episode was the same on both Starz and the BBC. The only difference is that the BBC had a longer trailer for upcoming episodes.)

While the first episode had bigger movie-type action scenes, possibly using up more than its share of the show’s budget, this episode had more  of the feeling of a television show such as 24 (although not limited to twenty-four hours). The episode established that the same group which was after Torchwood, and presumably behind the “miracle,” has infiltrated the CIA. They handled the attempted poisoning of Jack by Dichen Lachman from Dollhouse very well, requiring some ingenuity to come up with an antidote. This helped make up for some of the other junk science introduced in the episode.  I’ll let them get away with this because, face it, the show would not be possible if they stuck to established science.

The episode also introduced Jilly Kitzenger, played by Lauren Ambrose of Six Feet Under.  So far it looks like Oswald Danes is doing fine on his own without her help. I did not find it realistic that one appearance on television would have been so effective in changing public opinion of him.

Best scene of the episode was seeing Gwen Cooper explain that, “I’m Welch.”  (Included in the extended trailer above). Rex Matheson also did well, after warned about the conspiracy by Esther Drummond, using some bullshit to distract the rogue CIA agents in order to set Jack and Gwen free. The episode made it clear how the four will turn into the new Torchwood (at least for this season) while being on the run.

The first episode raised the question of how they investigate intangible such as nobody dying, which is like investigating nothing. I would assume that the conspiracy involving the CIA would provide something to begin investigating. In  order to investigate “nothing,” they might check out a character who previously appeared in a show about “nothing.” The conspiracy at the CIA is led by Wayne Night, who played Newman on Seinfeld

Following is the synopsis released for Episode 3:

Torchwood goes on the run – and finds a new enemy. But as they launch a raid on PhiCorp headquarters, Jack must confront the mysterious Oswald Danes.

Episode three includes guest stars Wayne Knight (Jurassic Park, Seinfeld), Dillon Casey (The Vampire Diaries) and Richard Gilliland (Desperate Housewives).

Will Ricky Gervais be the next Doctor, or just steal a Tardis. Check out this report.

A new trailer for Season Six of Dexter. The next season is going to skip ahead so that Dexter can be past the death of Rita and Lumen moving away, allowing him to get back to being Dexter.

Friday Night Lights concluded its series, but now there is talk (and tweets) of filming a movie. Sometimes that works (Firefly/Serenity) and other times such movies have failed to materialize (Arrested Development and Veronica Mars).  The idea is to continue from where the series left off. This would work well with Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, and it would be easy to work in some other characters, but unless the movie shows the Taylors moving back to Dillon, it would be hard for it to be a direct continuation of the series.

Last  season  Thursday night featured two genre comedies up against each other. Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs of Community got kinky for Esquire in the video above.  What will Kaley Cuoco and Melissa Raunch of Big Bang Theory do to match this? For more on the sex life of Alison Brie (of both Community and Mad Men) check out this essay she wrote.

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Apocalypse Not Now

Coverage of the uneventful Rapture dominated social media yesterday. Here is a recap of my posts, primarily from Facebook and Twitter. Coverage did begin on the blog with this post. Further coverage was on Facebook and Twitter, beginning with a comment on a true event occurring Friday evening, and some opinions on the whole subject:

I was listening to the BBC News and suddenly the signal was lost. If it was already 6:00 pm in London I might be a little nervous. :)

The worst thing about the world coming to an end tomorrow at 6:00 pm is that the Rapture will be occurring just before Doctor Who airs.

Rushing to get through more episodes of Downton Abbey before the Rapture at 6. It really sucks when the world is going to end and you don’t get to see the full season.

As it became 6 p.m. around the world, coverage intensified:

It is 6 pm at Aukland. Any sign of the Rapture?

All my Australian Facebook friends are still here. They must be godless heathens.

Just got response to question from Verizon. If the world does end today I am still responsible for the remaining months on my  phone contract.

6 pm in London & my Facebook friends are still there; must be sinners like my Australian friends. Also means Doctor Who will still be on.

Next year we will find out if the ancient Mayan calendar is more credible than the fundamentalist view of the Christian Bible.

We now have video of people rising up during the Rapture.

What was Steven Moffatt thinking, airing the first of a two-part Doctor Who story on the day the world was scheduled to come to an end?

It is almost 6:00 local time. Personally I find the threat of assimilation by the Borg, destruction of the earth by a Vogon construction fleet building an intergalactic highway, or Skynet becoming self-aware and wiping out humanity to all be more plausible scenarios than Biblical prophesy.

6 pm and the Apocalypse is rather uneventful. Regrettably the religious fundamentalists remain here to continue messing up the earth.

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Nobody.” (post-rapture humor)

Meanwhile, while we had a lot of fun with this yesterday, Harold Camping, who predicted the date of the Rapture, has not had anything to say. I do not fear for his future. After he was wrong in 1994 he just picked a new date. He can do that again, and those who believed him before will probably believe him again.

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The Rapture

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SciFi Weekend: The Cape; A Baby Timelord; Torchwood Casting and Filming News; The Voldemort Effect

With the limited number of genre shows on this season, and No Ordinary Family taking a lighter approach to super heroes, there has been considerable anticipation for the premiere of The Cape. The show has been billed as a more serious and realistic superhero show. While there is a limit to how realistic such shows can possibly be, we have seen excellent results with such an approach with Iron Man and the latest Batman movies. Unfortunately it is unlikely that television will match the qualities of  Iron Man or The Dark Knight.

Like Iron Man and Batman, The Cape is an ordinary guy who learns tricks and utilizes gadgets as opposed to having true superpowers. The Cape learned his skills from a gang of criminal circus performers. Unfortunately we had all we wanted of mixing a circus and superheroes in the final season of Heroes.

The story would probably have been stronger if they used the full two hours of the premiere as an origin story instead of cramming in a weak follow up story. It is hard to judge shows such as this entirely by their first episodes as there is often room for improvement after initially setting up the situation. Even the last few episodes No Ordinary Family have been much better than the initial stories.

The best thing about The Cape is the return of Summer Glau as super-hacker Orwell. While I welcome her presence, I also fear that her character risks providing easy solutions to any problems. There is also an exaggerated view of the powers of technology in the show. Besides Orwell’s hacking abilities, having Vince Faraday (The Cape) have a card which opens multiple safes and is never canceled was far-fetched.

Besides Orwell, the show provides other supporting characters such as Faraday’s wife. Faraday is forced to take on a secret identity when framed for crimes committed by Chess/Peter Fleming, and when Fleming threatened Faraday’s family. While I can accept the situation of having Fleming keep secret the fact that he is still alive from the public and from Fleming, there is no reason why he can’t secretly see his wife.

Both Faraday and Fleming were pretty careless with their secret identities. The worst mistake was for Fleming to continue to appear as Chess after making it appear not only that Faraday was Chess but that he had been killed.

It is hard to evaluate the show without seeing future episodes. The weekly format of the show does place limitations on it, such as the need to keep Peter Fleming around  for further episodes as opposed to resolving that conflict as a stand alone movie might. James Frain, who plays the title role,  has provided hints as to where the series is going:

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Frain teased that Vince (David Lyons) and Peter will be involved in a number of confrontations in the future.

“They have to go head-to-head,” Frain said. “Vince has to confront this guy but he’s in a very unusual position of not being able to destroy him.

“The obvious thing to do is to take your revenge and go get the guy who framed you, but he can’t do that. He needs to keep this guy alive because he can’t prove his real identity without him, and so he realises that to really be free, he has to frame this guy and flip the tables on him. And so it’s not just a straightforward combat – it’s more psychological warfare.”

Frain also suggested that viewers will learn more about Peter as the series continues, saying: “We start to find out that Peter is a little bit more of a ladies’ man than we first thought. As the show goes on, the guy who he is by daytime, the guy who he is in the mask, becomes more and more separate and this conflict starts opening up.”

He added: “There’s going to be some action with a young woman that comes up that’s very interesting.”

I am glad that they will be expanding more upon Peter’s character. Having him be the head of a corporation who turns out to be evil was far too much of a television cliche.

Series creator TomWheeler has provided more background on where he wants to go with the series:

Wheeler says that the cape in The Cape also has its own backstory, and it will be explored throughout the life of the series. “In episode three, you get a big chunk of it,” he says. “One of our writers is getting his doctorate in mythology, and one of the things we talk about is the cape has a lot of primal symbolism. There’s the blanket you tie around your neck as a kid. That’s your first contact with being a superhero, so as a symbol, the cape connects you to childhood. But there’s also the cape in Jungian mythology/psychology that represents the shadow. So we are setting up a history for the cape that is quite dark. Even though the cape has no supernatural ability to do something to the wearer, we do get into what it means to embody your shadow; we explore the question ‘Do you wear the cape or does the cape wear you?’ That becomes an issue. We will be planting clues and mysteries along the way about the cape because there’s a big story to be told about the cape and what Vince is destined for.”

Another aspect of the superhero mythos that The Cape indulges is the super-villain. We’re not talking garden-variety crooks–we’re talking diabolical masterminds and high strange baddies. Wheeler’s ambition is to give The Cape a large rogues gallery, though Vince’s ongoing conflict with Chess provides the narrative spine of season 1. “Chess is a psychotic James Bond and we deal a lot with him and his alter-ego, Peter Fleming,” says Wheeler. “But we will see that while Peter is awful, he has a complicated life. In total, we’ll introduce seven new villains in the first season, including one that’ll be the center of a two-parter in the middle of the season.”

Wheeler says viewers can expect a show that will span a range of genres. There’s an episode that’ll be more sci-fi. There’s an episode that’s more “gothic” and scary. He believes non-geeks will be able to connect with emotional heart of the show–a story of a husband and father trying to reconnect with his wife and family. For all its old fashionedness, Wheeler believes The Cape is as entertaining as other state-of-the-art superhero action fantasies–even the ones of the grim and gritty stripe. “I think there’s a thirst out there for something that can marry the old and the new, something everyone to sit down and watch together as a family,” he says. “But we are very aware of the other entertainments that are out there and we believe we can be a compliment to them. God willing, we can be considered a branch on the tree of the great things Chris Nolan is doing or Zack Snyder or Jon Favreau have done–all the great adult stuff that’s out there.”

More from Wheeler here.

Doctor Who, which has had many inconsistencies during its near fifty-year run, has both had stories stating both that Timelord children do and do not exist. If the British tabloids are to be believed, we might have a Timelord child born on Earth this spring. Reportedly Georgia Moffat, who already has an eight year old son, is pregnant. News was recently released that Moffat is engaged to David Tennant. Tennant played the tenth Doctor, including staring in The Doctor’s Daughter where he met Georgia Moffat. Besides playing the Doctor’s daughter in the 2008 episode, Moffat is the daughter of Peter Davison, who played the fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984.

There will be another reunion of cast members from Doctor Who. John Sim (who has played The Master, in addition to staring in the BBC version of Life on Mars) will be staring with Marc Warren (Elton Pope in a 2006 episode of Doctor Who entitled Love & Monsters) in Mad Dogs:

Woody (Beesley), Quinn (Glenister), Baxter (Simm) and Rick (Warren) have been friends since sixth form. The fifth member of their gang is Alvo (Ben Chaplin, Dorian Gray), a risk-taking opportunist who, having made his fortune in property, leads a luxurious lifestyle in Majorca.

Now in their 40s, they’ve all taken different paths in life with varying degrees of success. When Alvo flies them to his extravagant villa to celebrate his early retirement, they enjoy a trip down memory lane.
However, all does not go to plan and they find themselves entangled in a web of deception and murder involving beautiful police women, large yachts, Speedos and a rather short assassin in a Tony Blair mask…

Continuing Sky 1 HD’s dedication to homegrown high definition drama, Mad Dogs is a dark and twisted comic tale in which four ordinary guys discover how easily the line between friend and foe can be blurred.

The Doctor Who News Page has a report on the first week of filming Torchwood: Miracle Day. TV Squad has more information from Russel T. Davies on the series.  Lauren Ambrose, who played Claire Fisher on Six Feet Under, has been added to the cast. She will play Jilly Kitzinger, “a sweet-talking PR genius with a heart of stone who’s just cornered the most important client of her career … and maybe of all time.”

Julian Sanchez has blogged about The Voldemort Effect:

…as Harry’s sage mentor Dumbledore notes at one point, it was Voldemort’s choice to regard Harry as his predestined foe that made it true.

There’s a similar phenomenon in American politics, which I long ago mentally dubbed The Voldemort Effect. Maybe it’s always been this way, but it seems like especially recently, if you ask a strong political partisan—conservatives in particular, in my experience—which political figures they like or admire, and why, they’ll enthusiastically cite the ability to “drive the other side crazy.” Judging by online commentary, this seems to be an enormous part of Sarah Palin’s appeal. Palin herself certainty seems to understand this. Her favorite schtick, the well to which she returns again and again, is: “Look how all the mean liberals are attacking me!” Weekly Standard writer Matt Continetti even titled his book about the ex-governor “The Persecution of Sarah Palin.” Perversely, liberals end up playing a significant role in anointing conservative leaders.

This is, I think, a bipartisan phenomenon everyone at least subconsciously recognizes: A political figure—though more often a pundit than an actual candidate or elected official—gains prominence largely as a function of being attacked or loathed with special vehemence by the other side. Which means it’s crying out for a convenient shorthand so we can talk about it more easily; I propose “The Voldemort Effect.”

Matthew Yglesias responded:

I think the equivalence here is not only mistaken, but actually 180 degrees off base. You do see this Voldemort Effect in a lot of conservative thinking, but if liberals go awry it’s more likely to be in the reverse way—a lot of Team Blue’s thinking about politics is dominated by a kind of desperate search for leaders who won’t drive the other side crazy. Hence Bill Clinton, southern good ol’ boy. Hence John Kerry, decorated war hero. Hence calm, rational compromising Barack Obama instead of polarizing meanie Hillary Clinton. And that goes back to war hero George McGovern, southern good ol’ boy Jimmy Carter, Massachusetts Miracle technocrat mastermind Michael Dukakis, etc. In retrospect all of these people are hated by the right and “obviously” represent just another strain of out of touch liberalism, but in advance each and every one appealed to the rank and file as somehow “different” from his predecessors in some key way.

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SciFi Weekend: Dexter Finale; Fringe and Firefly; Doctor Who and Star Wars; A Klingon Christmas Carol

The season finale of Dexter was largely predictable, but predicable in a good way. Actions and decisions made were as anticipated as they were set up in previous episodes. We knew it would end with Jordan Chase getting killed. We also knew that Lumen would leave and, while it was always a consideration, I think most fans predicted she would not get killed. Killing Lumen after Rita’s death last year would have been too depressing. There have also been hints in post-season interviews that Lumen might return.

It was also predicable that Deb would wind up at the camp, although she sure did figure out the location quickly. It would have been more plausible if Dexter had left around a paper trail regarding Jordan Chase’s ownership of the camp. The only real question here was whether Deb would arrive to save them from Jordan or, as it turned out, to find Jordan’s dead body. Once the scene was set up with Dexter and Lumen behind the plastic I had no doubt about the ending. It was obvious that this would be the way that Deb could set them free without seeing their faces. The writers had been preparing Deb all season to make the decision for her to sympathize with the unknown (to her) vigilantes. While I wasn’t very fond of the Carlos Fuentes arc earlier in the season, it did lead to Deb believing that there were people who deserved to die and change her view of killing.

Dexter’s decision to save Quinn was also not surprising. He might have let Quinn take the blame for Liddy’s death but even if Dexter saw some benefit in this he would be taking a risk that he would be a suspect once it came out that Quinn had hired Liddy to spy on Dexter. The most important factor might have been Dexter saving Quinn for the sake of his sister. At the moment Quinn is grateful to Dexter, but there is no guarantee he won’t go back to suspecting Dexter sometime in the future, especially should he break up with Deb.

There are still a number of loose ends in the conclusion. Why is Deb given credit for breaking the case when, as far as everyone knows, Jordan Chase is still alive. (I assume she didn’t tell anyone that she saw his dead body when she made the call or there would have been lots of questions when his body wasn’t there). Nobody appears to be questioning why one bullet was shot from her gun. Quinn isn’t necessarily off the hook for Liddy’s death considering all the other evidence implicating him. These include all the phone calls and the faked signature for the surveillance equipment. The hunt for Kyle Butler was also never resolved, and could still create problems for Dexter in the future.

The season ended leaving the writers a free hand as to where to go next season. They could deal with some of these loose ends from the past or move on. The problems between Dexter and Rita’s children were also resolved, with Astor and Cody planning to spend the summer with him. This leaves the writers free to set the next season with the kids living with Dexter or still living with their grandparents.

While Deb did not find out Dexter’s secret this year, they are likely setting this up for a future season. Deb did find out at the end of the first novel, which was very similar to the first season in most respects. This would be a plausible way to shake up the series and maintain continued interest. This is also suggested in an interview with executive producer Sarah Colleton:

A huge moment for Deb: She chooses not to pull back the curtain to discover the identity of Victim 13 and her partner, allowing Lumen and Dexter to go free. Why did you decide to go that way with the story?
Deb has had a really interesting growth over the past five years. If you remember her from year 1, her energy was all over the place and she was coltish and insecure—this delightful unfocused character who slowly over the years has learned to focus all of that energy and she has become a formidable detective. But part of becoming a detective and pursuing the dark side is an awareness that anyone who takes a walk on the wild side never comes back all the way. What may have started out as a rigid sense of what’s right and wrong—what’s good and evil—starts to turn into a bit of gray. And when Deb finally brings down Carlos Fuentes earlier in the season, she’s surprised that she feels nothing—and is intrigued by that sensation. And one of the most subtle conversations between Dexter and his sister takes place over a beer in Dexter’s apartment when she’s going on about how she didn’t feel anything, and Dexter gives her this look and goes, “Dad once told me there are people who deserve to die.” And she looks at him and goes, ‘Do you think there are people that deserve to die?” It’s this moment where Dexter has floated out this little trial balloon. So you see Deb starting to make that turn. And based on her experience with Rudy and in episode 10 when she sees all of those [Barrel Girl] tapes—it’s traumatizing yet strengthening for her—she comes up with the vigilante theory. When she finally gets to the camp and realizes that she has stumbled upon “13” and her helpmate, it’s not until the very end of her speech where she makes that change. And Jennifer Carpenter did a brilliant piece of acting because the character doesn’t know until that very moment that she’s going to do something. It’s a huge, defining moment for Deb. That’s a new Deb who says, “The place is going to be crawling with police in an hour,” and sails up the stairs and goes to Quinn and says, “I don’t care what happened—I love you.” It’s wonderful—and it also opens the door because eventually, some season is going to have to deal with Deb finding out about Dexter.

This would result in a tremendous change in the relationship between Deb and Dexter. In real life there has also been a big change as it was announced last week that Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall are getting divorced. Apparently it doesn’t work to marry your TV sister. Perhaps Michael C. Hall should warn his former co-star from Six Feet Under as Peter Krause is now dating his TV sister from Parenthood, Lauren Graham.

Moving Fringe to Fridays, where Fox genre shows often go to die, has raised a number comparisons to Firefly–especially as the first episode back in January is named Firefly. The above video takes the opening to Firefly and replaces it with the characters from Fringe.

Even Fox has responded to the concerned raised by moving the show to Fridays in the above promo.

As far back as 1989 we had the fan fiction The Doctor and the Enterprise placing The Doctor in the Star Trek universe.  In more recent years video mash ups have become more popular. Above we have a combination of the Doctor Who and Star Wars universes. This gives us eleven Doctors, Amy Pond, Rory, and River Song, including Amy Pond fighting Darth Vader with a lightsaber.

There have been numerous interviews and promotional videos released in preparation for Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol on December 25. This includes an interview with Karen Gillan in ShortList which geeks might find encouraging.  Den of Geek has a spoiler-free review based on an early screening of the Christmas special. Life of Wylie has highlights from a Q&A session with Steven Moffat and the stars.

If you prefer an alternative to Doctor Who for your holiday entertainment, The Wall Street Journal has a review of A Klingon Christmas Carol.

Across the country this week, productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” are warming hearts. In this city, one version poses this question: What if Charles Dickens were a Trekkie?

The answer runs an hour and 20 minutes and includes three fight scenes, 17 actors with latex ridges glued to their foreheads and a performance delivered entirely in Klingon—a language made up for a Star Trek movie.

“It’s like an opera,” says Christopher O. Kidder, the director and co-writer. “You know what’s happening because you already know the story.”

For those not fluent in Klingon, English translations are projected above the stage.

The arc of “A Klingon Christmas Carol” follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view.

For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is pegged to the Klingon Feast of the Long Night. Carols and trees are replaced with drinking, fighting and mating rituals. And because Klingons are more concerned with bravery than kindness, the main character’s quest is for courage.

Carrie-Anne Moss, who stared in the fantastic movie The Matrix, and the dreadful movies The Matrix II and The Matrix III, has been signed to star in a Lifetime pilot as a celebrity psychologist.

Thursdays from 8:00 to 8:30 is the best hour of genre comedy television. Big Bang Theory has had lots of major guest stars. Now Community is getting LeVar Burton, who will play himself.

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SciFi Weekend: The Lodger, Torchwood Filming News; A New Series From Alan Ball; and Another Recreation of Princess Leia as Slave Girl

Matt Smith Nude Scene

This week BBC America broadcast The Lodger, the last episode of Doctor Who before the two-part season finale. Spoilers are included for this episode only as I impatiently wait for BBC America to get caught up so I can write about the season finale and fez hats.

This was unfortunately an Amy Pond-lite episode, but still an entertaining one. The Doctor was stranded on earth and had to figure out what was messing with time to save Amy from being lost in the Tardis forever. Fitting in was not easy for the Doctor, but he did turn out to be a fantastic soccer player (with the episode airing just before World Cup coverage on the BBC).

The episode was largely a stand alone episode but it did include references to other evens of the season. The house where the Doctor rented a room had a card for the Vincent van Gogh exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay on the refrigerator. Many reviewers have noted that a crack on the wall was shown at the end. While it was shown most prominently at the end of the episode, I also noted that it was shown briefly earlier. The most significant event was that Amy, while searching for a pen, found the engagement ring from Rory. Clearly this story line did not conclude with Rory being pulled into the crack and disappearing from time.

Matt Smith had one of the rare nude scenes in Doctor Who history, appearing dressed in only a towel, creating some controversy Ironically Smith has previously appeared on television undressed in such a manner, and it happened to be in a scene with a former companion of an earlier Doctor. Smith played one of Billy Piper’s clients in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, also dressed only in a towel.

Van Gough Card in Doctor Who: The Lodger

The Doctor In The Tardis has some limited news, and a bit of speculation, on the filming of the next season of Torchwood:

It has been confirmed by Gavin Barker Associates that John Barrowman will only be filming Torchwood in the US from January to June. That’s roughly about 16 weeks worth of filming, before coming back to the UK.

Assuming Eve Myles was correct in her statement earlier this week about a 7 and a half month shoot, it could mean that the other 3 and a half months shooting will be taking place in the UK, especially as John Barrowman has previously stated he will be appearing in all episodes of the new series.

Alan Ball already is responsible for two of the greatest television shows of all time, Six Feet Under and True Blood. Both deal with death, and if HBO wants another series on this topic Ball is obviously the person to turn to. Deadline Hollywood reports that HBO has ordered another pilot from Alan Ball:

HBO has greenlighted a pilot for All Signs of Death, a dark comedic drama based on Charlie Huston’s 2009 crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. Ball is executive producing and directing the pilot, which was written by Huston. The project, which is now casting for an August production start date in Los Angeles, centers on an inveterate twenty-something slacker who stumbles into a career as a crime scene cleaner, only to find himself entangled with a murder mystery, a femme fatale and the loose ends of his own past. “It’s not so much about the crime, it’s about the personal story of the central character and his journey back to being fully connected with his life after some very traumatic things,” Ball said.

As a director, Ball will experiment with smaller, portable cameras for a cinema verite style. “The show is about contemporary Los Angeles, but not the glamorous LA, it’s about the dirty underbelly of LA,” Ball said. “We’re going to try to go against the grain, away from the overlit, stylized noir for a more frantic, contemporary, naturalistic style.” Ball is executive producing All Signs of Death through his company, Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, under his overall deal at HBO. Huston is co-executive producing, with Your Face executives Christina Jokanovich and Peter Macdissi also producing.

Kelly Brook dresses in the Princess Leia slave girl outfit

Many actresses have dressed in versions of the Princess Leia slave outfit from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, including Kristin Bell and Olivia Munn. Pictures of these two can be seen here, and a picture of the original is here. Kelly Brook has created several Princess Leia poses for Total Film, including the Leia slave girl pictured above.

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SciFi Weekend: Enterprise; The Plan; Landing in LA; Hugo Awards; Rory Gilmore All Grown Up (with Matt Saracen); and Racy Pics of Doctor Who Companions

TrekMovie.com reports on a panel held by Manny Coto and Brannon Braga at the annual Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. While I think there were far more problems with Enterprise to worry about than this, some fans were upset with the way the show ended. The final episode was intended as an homage to the previous shows involving the Enterprise and ended with Will Ryker and Deanna Troi looking back at the events of  Archer’s Enterprise on the holodeck. Braga took the blame for this:

I will take full blame for that episode, for those that didn’t like it. In retrospect, it was a very cool idea, that in the end was a mistake. The concept was was to have Manny do a final two-part finale, but then have a final final episode send a valentine to all of Star Trek over the last eighteen years. We just thought it would be a cool concept to show the Next Generation’s crew looking back, though the holodeck, at Archer’s crew. It is a high concept, but I am not sure it came together.

While the show had many faults, it was finally staring to show some promise in its fourth season when Coto took over as show runner. The show was at its best when it had episodes foreshadowing events of the earlier Star Trek series (which took place after the events of this prequel series).  There was talk of what was planned if the series had survived for a fifth season:

  • Coto wanted to revisit the Mirror Universe on a regular basis with four or five episodes spread through the season as a “mini-series within a series.” Mike Sussman and Coto had discussed places to go with it and it was “big regret” not getting chance
  • The two main things they wanted to do with S5 was the “origins of the Federation” and the “begin whispers of the Romulan War”, and tying those two together
  • No other major villains were planned to be introduced, the Romulans were going to be the big villain, but would have new ones within new ‘mini-arcs’
  • Rick and Brannon thought Future Guy was “probably going to be a Romulan” and would tie into the Romulan War with a future Romulan trying to “instigate” things
  • They wanted to make Shran a regular character

I think spending so much time in the Mirror Universe would have been a mistake unless they had some really fantastic stories for this, but I do like the idea of tying the show into the Romulan war which has often been mentioned as past history in other Star Trek series.  It would have been best to stay away from the temporal cold war, but a brief arc tying it into the Romulan war would have at least provided some rational for that aspect of the series. Of course we’ve now seen another major Star Trek story involving a Romulan changing history in the latest Star Trek movie.

I always hate it when a few days following a major television event a DVD is released with an expanded version. It’s not that I mind paying for the DVD but that after watching a show once there is far too much to do for me to be likely to watch an expanded version of the same show soon afterward. They are doing it the right way with Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. The episode will premier on DVD and Blu Ray on October 27, 2009 including “some great footage that we are not able to show on TV.” The pilot for Caprica has been released on DVD with scenes which definitely cannot be shown on TV. I’m sure hoping that the scenes from The Plan which cannot be shown on television involve Six (Tricia Helfer). An added plus is that, as I do not receive the SyFy Channel in high definition, I’ll be able to watch the show in Blu Ray without waiting until after it is aired for an HD version.

There has been considerable speculation that the bomb which was detonated in the season finale of Lost did work, changing the timeline. In theory if the bomb did work Oceanic 815 would not have crashed and the flight would have landed in Los Angeles. TV Guide reports that Greg Grunberg (of Heroes), who pilot Seth Norris of Oceanic flight 815 in the first episode, has been asked to return to the show. Grunberg’s character did not survive, but would still be around if the plane did not crash. Grunberg says he was given no information as to what they are planning for his character.

There are also unconfirmed rumors that the title of the two hour season premier is LA X. This presumably refers to landing in Los Angeles, but there also might be significance to placing the space between LA and X.

The 2009 Hugo Award winners have been announced:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

The above trailer is out for Post Grad, which is most notable for combining Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls and Sin City) with Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen of Friday Night Lights–what would Julie say?) Rory Gilmore has sure grown up. Besides appearing as a doctor in the series finale of ER, she is on the cover of WWD:

Old posts about Gilmore Girls continue to receive attention, with many wondering what Amy Sherman-Palladino had planned for her final four words to the series if she had not left for the final season.  Here’s one report as to the final four words: “Rory, you were adopted.”

No, don’t freak out. Amy Sherman-Palladino was just joking about this possibility.

Besides the sort of couple of Rory Gilmore and Matt Saracen, there is another couple of interest on television tonight. It took a while to recognize her, but Jemma, Ray’s love interest on Hung, is played by Natalie Zea. She recently played Karen Darling on Dirty Sexy Money. I guess things didn’t work out with Nick (Peter Krause).

Besides Hung, there are two even more significant shows on television tonight. True Blood has been fantastic all season creating a tough choice between this show and Alan Ball’s previous series, Six Feet Under (with cast including Peter Krause) for best show ever on television. The really big even of the night is the start of the third season of Mad Men.

Looking back on the shows mentioned shows how things have changed for broadcast television. It is common for shows on HBO and Showtime to surpass network shows in quality and any list of the best shows in recent years would be dominated by pay cable. Even basic cable is often beating out network television in quality with recent shows including  Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, the various Star Trek series, and Gilmore Girls. Even Friday Night Lights, often considered the best written network series couple seasons, has had to work out a deal with a satelite network to survive.

Since I posted pictures of Karen Gillan, the next companion on Doctor Who, in a bikini last week more scantily clad pictures of Gillan have surfaced on the internet, such as the almost topless one above. Finding on line pictures of The Doctor’s companions is a way in which following the show has changed from the early days of the show when there was no internet. I guess it is only appropriate that this has become commonplace with Steven Moffat taking over as show runner. Steven Taylor, Moffat’s alter ego on Coupling, has noted how the internet was formed to become the world’s largest repository for porn. If someone had a real Tardis the could really create excitement by posting some of the pictures of Billie Piper (Rose Tylor) in her role as Hannah/Belle on Secret Diary of a Call Girl after she left Doctor Who (especially if going beyond the very tame ones in the examples below).

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Movie, Return of Sarah Connor, Premiers of Fringe and True Blood

Considering how rare it has been for me to get this out on Fridays since the political campaign has heated up, I’ve retitled this SciFi Weekend in place of SciFi Friday. Still I’ll begin with a story on a show from SciFi Channel’s SciFi Friday line up–Doctor Who.

So far David Tennant is only committed to return as The Doctor for some specials scheduled for next season, being too busy appearing in Hamlet to do a full season. Tennant has desired to continue to perform on the stage and to do movies, leading to fears he will not return for another full season. The BBC is now trying to entice him to return for a full fifth season of Doctor Who in 2010 by also adding a Doctor Who movie to the deal. Russell T. Davies said he would like Catherine Zeta Jones to play The Doctor’s companion in the movie.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles returned for a second season last week creating questions as to whether Cameron can be trusted. Changes in Cameron will only be one aspect of the upcoming season. SciFi Wire has an interview with Josh Friedman, the creator and executive producer of the show, which reveals we will see more of the post-apocalyptic future and time travel will be used in again on the show. He discussed how using time travel helps the show:

One, is people can sit around and talk about it. Two, you can see future war stuff, and three, you can bring people back. … Last season, for a lot of people, I think, it really took off when Brian [as Derek Reese] came back. I think that’s, one, due to the fact that Brian was fantastic when he came back. … Two, the character that he’s playing, in terms of being a Reese and that kind of thing. But I also think that what he represents is he’s an embodiment of Judgment Day, of the war. And I think he comes back kind of traumatized in a way that really brings the future to the present in a really visceral way, makes people care about the stakes.

I think you see it on somebody. He’s a war veteran; you see it. So I think that it’s an important part of the show to bring people back sometimes, whether it’s another person or a Terminator. … You have to get used to the fact. It’s not a revolving door, but it definitely … opens more often than people are used to in the movies. But the movie only got to send two people back, and they were rolling around for two hours. I think our per-minute sending people back is actually much lower than the movies.

Two new genre shows premiered last week. In Fringe J.J. Abrams gives us a combination of Lost, The X-Files, and Alias. I wasn’t very impressed by the pilot but I’ve learned to give shows like this a little longer. For whatever it is worth, I stopped watching Alias soon after it started and ignored X-Files. Later I had go back and catch up on them after I found that as they developed there was far more to each than was apparent at the start. (Actually the conclusion of X-Files showed I might have been right about it at the start.) Fringe provides suggestions of lots of unusual things going on and, as with Lost, the success of the show will depend upon how well they create mysteries to keep viewers hooked while providing enough information to keep them satisfied. TV Guide provides some answers to questions viewers might have about the show while Popular Mechanics looks at the science.

Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under , has returned to HBO with True Blood and I quickly became more hooked on this one than Fringe. The premise, based upon the novels by Charlaine Harris, is that the Japenese have developed a synthetic blood which satisfies all the nutritional needs of vampires, allowing them to live out in the open. We see a vampire rights advocate being interviewed by Bill Maher and in the second episode there was a magazine cover announcing that Angelina is adopting a vampire baby.

The actual storyline centers around a waitress, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) who becomes involved with vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). Sookie can read minds, which is one reason she is attracted to Bill. Being that she can read minds, she has trouble dating because she quickly realized what every guy around her is thinking (just as you are thinking as you view the picture of her above). She is unable to read Bill’s mind, which is far more peacful than overhearing the thoughts of everyone around her.

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SciFi Friday (Sunday Edition): The Oceanic Six, Jericho, SNL, and the Disappointing Return of Amy Sherman-Palladino

This week Lost fooled us until the end with Sun in a flash forward and Jin in a flashback. We also found, to nobody’s surprise, that Michael (now Kevin) is Ben’s spy on the freighter. The producers had said that we would know all six members of the Oceanic Six after this episode, but being Lost there remains controversy as to who they really are. The five definite members are Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, and as of this week, Sun.

There are several possibilities for the sixth. If Jin had been rescued and then died he would have still been the sixth, but his tombstone shows he “died” the day of the crash. As the tombstone is a fake this leaves open the question as to whether he really died or had to remain on the island. It did seem like he was actually dead when Sun and Hurley spoke of him at the end, but there could be misdirection there.

Michael (Kevin) and possibly Walt remain possibilities, but as they got off earlier most likely they have a different cover story or new identities. Aaron could be the sixth, but the producers had said he isn’t in one of the Oceanic Six during one of the podcasts on the show.

There are a couple of more unusual possibilities. We know Ben is alive and off the island in the future. Possibly he left the island assuming the identity of someone else. We certainly know he is capable of obtaining fake identities. It is less likely he would ever go with the people on the freighter. There have been suggestions that Christian Shephard really is alive and perhaps they claimed he was a living passenger on the flight. If so, then perhaps Jack wasn’t just calling for his father as a result of being drunk in last season’s finale.

Jericho is quickly moving towards the season finale, and it is not yet decided if this will also be the series finale. Ratings have not been very good so I do not expect it to survive. At least it looks like the show can go out with a good ending. The problems with Goetz are now resolved, although the repercussions of his killing remain to be seen. Most likely the final episodes will center around fighting the Cheyenne government and trying to expose the role of Jennings & Rall in the nuclear attacks on American cities.

The fourth season of Battlestar Galactica begins Friday, April 4th. If you aren’t up to date, the third season of Battlestar Galactica will be out on DVD on Tuesday. The stars of the show will be doing the Top Ten list on Letterman on Wednesday.

There were seven Harry Potter books, but there are going to be eight movies. The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is being divided up into two movies. The first part is scheduled for November 2010 and the second part for May 2011. The Harry Potter movies are now the most financially successful film series in history, having surpassed the James Bond series after only five movies.

The Martha Jones trilogy has concluded for those watching Torchwood on BBC America. The next episode, Something Borrowed, features Gwen’s wedding, including an uninvited guest, and some alien sex.

Tracy Morgan responded to Tiny Fey’s recent “editorial” on SNL’s Weekend Update supporting Hillary Clinton because bitches get things done. Morgan responds by saying, “Bitch may be the new black, but black is the new president, bitch!” Morgan also questioned Clinton’s qualifications by saying, “I want to know what qualifies Hillary Clinton to be president? Is it because she was married to the president? If that were true, then Robin Givens would be heavyweight champion of the world.” Raw Story has the video and full transcript.

Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose star in 'Jezebel James'

The Return of Jezebel James premiered on Friday, marking the return to television by Amy Sherman-Palladino after she left Gilmore Girls. Like Gilmore Girls, the new show begins with two women whose relationship differs from the traditional nuclear family. In The Return of Jezebel James Parker Posey has her estranged younger sister, Lauren Ambrose, to be a surrogate mother as she is unable to have her own baby.

Perhaps the show will develop over time, but there was no sign of the dialog and relationships which gave Gilmore Girls its strength. Under the best of circumstances it would be tough for Amy Sherman-Palladino to recapture the success of Gilmore Girls. I fear I watched half expecting Parker Posey to be Lorelei Gilmore. It was even more confusing with Lauren Ambrose as I couldn’t decide if she should be Rory Gilmore or if she should be Claire Fisher, her role on Six Feet Under. Either way, this was certainly a waste of Ambrose’s talent.

Reviewers have said that the second episode is better than the pilot so I will give it another chance, but this show won’t last long without considerable improvement. Perhaps A S-P should concentrate on writing a satisfactory finish to Gilmore Girls to make up for the season done without her.

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SciFi Friday: Star Trek News, Doctor Who Movie Rumors, And Battlestar Galactica Clips

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There are now two upcoming Star Trek movie events. Slice of SciFi reports that the two-part Star Trek Remastered version of “The Menagerie” will be presented in selected theaters on November 13 to promote the HD-DVD release the following week. The screening will include an introduction by Eugene Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, and a behind the scenes look at the making of the remastered Star Trek series.

Some former cast members of the original Star Trek series are being honored. William Shatner will receive the Jules Verne Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday, December 9. More information is available at Startrek.com. George Takei’s character might not have survived long into the second season of Heroes, but he has been imortalized by having his name attached to an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter:

Last week the Committee on Small Body Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union approved the name “7307 Takei” for the asteroid previously labeled “1994 GT9.” The Takei reference will be used in the scientific community to identify this minor body from now on, presumably forever. Only about 14,000 asteroids have been named after specific people, out of about 400,000 such bodies known to exist.

There’s rumors of upcoming movies. Cinematical speculates that Joss Whedon might make a sequel to Serenity. The Guardian says the BBC is considering a movie version of Doctor Who. SciFi Wire reports on rumors that Billie Piper might return for the movie or a three part special.

The season finale airs tonight for those watching Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel. My review was posted here.

SciFi Channel is revealing more information on Razor, the two-hour episode of Battlestar Galactica to air in November. They are preceding it with clips which will show during Flash Gordon and be available on line:

The Two-Hour Event

The special two-hour episode “Razor”, which will serve as a backdrop for the events of season four of Battlestar Galactica, tells the story of Lee Adama’s first mission as the commander of the battlestar Pegasus — and the harrowing tale of that ship’s desperate fight for survival in the immediate aftermath of the Cylon’s genocidal siege of the Twelve Colonies.

Lee Adama’s new XO, Major Kendra Shaw, is plagued by memories of her service and sacrifices under Admiral Helena Cain, who was able to save her ship during the Cylon attack — but only by making Shaw and her fellow officers rationalize suicidal battle tactics and brutal war crimes against their own people.

In the crucible of war, Shaw must let her hesitation and doubts burn away, until all that remains of her is the honed edge of a living human weapon — what Colonial veterans call “a razor.” But an edge so fine cuts in more than one direction. It can cleave an enemy to pieces … or it can carve away a person’s soul.

The Razor Flashbacks

The Razor Flashbacks From October 5 through November 16, SCI FI whets Battlestar fans’ appetites every Friday night with Razor Flashbacks during all-new episodes of Flash Gordon. All the flashback clips will be available on SCIFI.COM immediately after broadcast.

Written by Michael Taylor and directed by Wayne Rose and Felix Alcala, these intense, roughly two-minute segments tell the story of young William “Husker” Adama’s rookie Viper mission during the first Cylon war. In addition to fighting for his very survival against relentless Cylon centurions, Adama makes a terrifying discovery that will come back 40 years later to threaten him, the crew of the Pegasus and the survival of the human race.

This isn’t footage you’ll see in the premiere of Razor, so make sure to watch every Friday for a new flashback adventure, then see it again on SCIFI.COM!

The premise of another show being considered normally might not excite me but, considering that it is being produced by J. J. Abrams and written by Jill Soloway of Six Feet Under, it is worth checking out. The show “centers on a mobile notary who involves herself in the lives of those with whom she comes in contact.” Who would have guessed that a show about a family who runs a funeral parlor would have turned out to be one of the best shows ever to appear on television?

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