SciFi Weekend: Dollhouse and FlashForward Picked Up For Season; Deaths on Heroes and True Blood; Trician Helfer, Grace Park, and Ashley Green

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One frustrating thing about getting involved in a show on network television is that genre shows often do not do well in the ratings leading to early cancellation.  There was news this week about two shows which will at very least remain around for the season. Dollhouse, which almost was canceled after its first season, will have at least thirteen episodes aired this season. Any decision as to whether to renew the show or purchase more than thirteen episodes this year will not be made until after the first thirteen air.

Reached by phone, Joss Whedon (who has a terrible-sounding cold — feel better!) said he’s writing the 13th hour to give fans a degree of closure.

“We’ll definitely have closure, but will leave some doors open,” said Whedon, who’s currently shooting the eighth episode. “When we got our first numbers, which were bad, the first thing [Fox president of entertainment] Kevin Reilly said was, ‘You’ll have all 13,’ which was great. They’re not going to pull the rug out from under us.”

Beckman said DVR results have played a role in the show’s fate, though wasn’t surprised by today’s results.

“It’s one of the reasons that we brought it back; we knew it was DVR friendly,” Beckman said. “We expected to see this, and hopefully we’ll see [the overnight ratings] increase from week to week … with some shows, you have to look at the bigger picture.”

Beckman also humorously characterized deciding the show’s fate as a bit of no-win situation when it comes to dealing with Whedon’s passionate fans.

“If you cancel it, you’re an asshole; if you renew it and then don’t put it back on, you’re an asshole,” he said. “I’m still paying for ‘Terminator.’ ‘Dollhouse’ has a small rabid fan base that in the world of social media seems bigger than it is. We gave them another season knowing full well we were going to burn in hell if we pulled it.”

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Things are looking even better for FlashForward with ABC deciding pick up the series for the full season.

TV Guide interviewed Sonya Walger, who has roles on both Lost and FlashForward. She doesn’t have clue as to when or if she will be in the final episode of Lost. She had this comment on her role on Flashforward:

TVGuide.com: We haven’t seen all of Olivia’s flash-forward. What can you tease about what we haven’t seen?
Walger:
In the flash-forward, the bit that you have seen is that Lloyd [Jack Davenport] gets up from the bed and gets a text message from someone. The person he gets a text message from is very, very unexpected.

TVGuide.com: Can Mark and Olivia’s marriage survive this flash-forward?
Walger:
Who knows? I think it’s completely fascinating that just the ghost of this might be what undoes their marriage, or it might be what strengthens them and keeps them together. It might be the tension of it alone [that] drives Mark to drink. It’s such an interesting idea that just the threat of something might be what leads you towards it. It may well be that they get to a breaking point and then say, ‘No, this isn’t happening to us. We’re going to make this work.’

TVGuide.com: Do you have any personal belief in fate?
Walger:
I don’t really. The word fate doesn’t really mean much to me in some ways. I think we make our own. Minute by minute you decide who you are and who you’re likely to be. You make the choices hour by hour, just in the present. I don’t believe there’s some roadmap laid out that we’re headed towards.

TVGuide.com: Give us a nice tease for what’s coming up for Olivia.
Walger:
She’s going to be forced quite soon to deal with whether or not you can change the future. She keeps being reminded — evidence keeps being presented all around her — that you can’t change it. Every time she thinks she’s seen the last of Lloyd and that she’s managed to avoid it, he keeps coming back.

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Watch With Kristin reports that there will be a major death on Heroes. It will involve a male who was part of the original cast, and may or may not be one of the four in the picture above.

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True Blood has been picked up for a third season:

While the rollercoaster relationship of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) remains front and center, Ball revealed that several supporting characters will be sharing even more of the spotlight. “Definitely Eric has broken out and is a big important character now. Jessica and Hoyt are still trying to deal with everything that happened to them, and Arlene and Terry are going to have a little bit more of a life and more of a presence on the show.”

There’s also room for guest stars, like Evan Rachel Wood’s vampire queen of Louisiana. “She’ll be back,” promised Ball. “Maybe Zeljko Ivanek, who played the Magister in Season 1 – he might be back. And we do have a lot of fun new characters.”

Sam Trammell, who plays the hapless but heroic bar owner/changeling Sam Merlotte, added that Season 3 is “going to explore my relatives and the sort of sketchy, shapeshifter-y people in my family, and that’s going to be more torture for Sam. I’m sure they’re not going to be good people.” But will Sam’s still-burning torch for Sookie also be a source of torment? “Well, I hope he still has a shot with Sookie, but who knows? Probably not.”

Alan Ball has also told TV Guide that at least one character will die next season, which is hardly surprising considering the nature of the show.

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Tricia Helfer and Grace park are on the cover of Maxim prior to the upcoming release of the Battlestar Galactica movie, The Plan. With the movie being released on DVD prior to its showing on television it will be possible to have more explicit scenes as was done in the DVD release of Caprica. Rumor has it that the main nude scenes involve extras in a shower scene. Tricia Helfer will also be appearing in an upcoming episode of Two And A Half Men.

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There seems to be a lot of actresses from genre television shows in movies in magazines this month in addition to the above. For example, Ashley Green of Twilight has a photo shoot in Men’s Fitness.

SciFi Weekend: Flash Forward; Lost; V; Dexter; and More Kristen Bell Bikini Pictures

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In what was generally a very disappointing week of premiers for new shows, there was one excellent pilot. FlashForward was by far the best pilot I saw.  While the concept is taken from Robert Sawyer’s novel, the actual storyline is entirely new. One significant difference from the concept of the novel is that rather than having everyone on earth flash forward to years in the future, the flash forward in this show takes place to April 29, 2010 at 10pm Pacific Time. This leads to a different type of story, presumably dealing far more with the daily lives of the individuals  involved.

Among the characters whose lives might be changed by seeing six months into the future, Sonya Walger plays Olivia, a doctor and a wife who seems far more likable than the bitchy wife she played on HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me. In Walger’s flash forward she sees that she is intimately involved with a man who is not her current husband. At the end of the first episode is is obvious she will meet the man very soon as she is the father of a child she was treating (and who knew her name, presumably from the child’s  own flash forward).

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The presence of Sonya Walger, who also plays Penelope Widmore on Lost, isn’t the only comparison between FlashForward and Lost.  The chaos in the scene after everyone lost consciousness is reminiscent of the chaos after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 in the pilot of Lost.  While the above screen capture isn’t clear enough to see the details, one scene showed a billboard for Oceanic Airlines in the background which noted their safety record. Is this show taking place in an alternative timeline where the bomb at the end of last year’s final episode of Lost was successful in changing history and the crash did not occur? It created a big enough mystery at the end to see the one person awake in the video from a stadium in Detroit when everyone else was blacked out. Was this person from the Dharma Initiative?

A big question for shows of this nature is whether the producers know where it is going. Too many shows, such as The X-Files, started out by creating a mystery but lacking a clear direction the mythology of the show became confusing and the conclusion was not satisfying. It appears that the producers of FlashForward do have ideas as to an explanation for the events, and hope the show lasts at least three years as it would take two years to do the conclusion as they intend. Marc Guggenheim, one of the producers, said in an interview with SFX magazine (via Io9):

We know what the ultimate season is and the penultimate season is. For in between, we know the various seasons but we are treating it like an accordion. In success, [the show] can go seven years. In less success, it would need to go three years to work. The end game of the show, to be properly done, really requires two full seasons focusing on the end game.

The pilot also included a commercial for the other eagerly awaited science fiction show of the year–the remake of V.  A promo for the show appears above. There have been rumors of production problems with the show for a while, and now Variety reports that they are going to divide the series. The show will go on hiatus after the first four episodes, saving the final nine for later, probably resuming in mid-March. There are claims that this is to avoid competition from American Idol and the Olympics but it would seem like a show has a better chance to succeed without such a hiatus.

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Dexter resumes tonight but, as with previous seasons, the first episode of the season has been available on line. I assume they intentionally leak out the first episode every year to create buzz for the show, but I wonder why they don’t simply air the show on demand as opposed to encouraging such down loading. I won’t say anything to spoil tonight’s episode, but it does deal with the complications for Dexter from having a wife and baby. The episodes also ends with a mini-cliff hanger which gets to the question as to whether it is safe for Dexter to pursue his activities.

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Dexter’s adversary for the season is The Trinity Killer, played by John Lithgow. The New York Times interviewed both John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall:

Q. John, what was your reaction when you were approached to portray a madman who kills in multiples of three?

MR. LITHGOW I felt like, “Oh, yeah. I know how to play this.” The fascination — which is the fascination of the whole series — is: How can a person outwardly so ordinary, almost bland, have such a baroque and bizarre secret life? I’m usually hired for my blandness. [He laughs.] I love the idea of shocking people. I thought it was high time I did that again.

Q. Here’s your essay question: Compare and contrast your individual serial killer characters.

MR. HALL Well, they’re obviously both saddled with a compulsion. They’re different seeds from very different trees. For Dexter’s part, I think it’s an awareness that Trinity does what he does, and it makes him compelling the way no one has ever been to him — other than perhaps his brother.

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With Couple’s Retreat coming out on October 9, the internet is being flooded with pictures of Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis in bikinis and lingerie. While not a bad way to end the summer, this is a waste of Kristen Bell’s talent as seen in Veronica Mars.

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SciFi Weekend: True Blood Season Finale; Super Geek to Guest on Big Bang; Patrick Stewart Closes Door on Jon Luc Picard; Megan Fox on SNL; and Dollhouse Sneak Peak

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The season finale of True Blood has aired, resolving the major storyline but leaving many open for next year. (I’ll leave out the specifics for those who might not have viewed the episode yet.) The finale ended by setting up season three, the search for Bill.  Before the finale aired, TV Squad interviewed Alan Ball. Here are some of the questions:

I asked my TV Squad readers what they wanted me to ask you, and one of their main questions involves the books. Some feel the show doesn’t follow the books closely enough. Your thoughts on that?

I think a book and a television show are two different mediums. If I were to follow the books, it would be all about Sookie, because Sookie narrates the story, and the other characters would rarely even show up. Jason would come into the bar and hug her in an attempt to make people think he loves his sister so he can pick somebody up. Tara wouldn’t even have existed until this season, and she’d be white. Lafayette would be dead.

So all I can say to those people is, it’s based on the books, but it’s not a literal adaptation of the books. I’m doing what I think is the best way to turn that story into a television show. Also, if I just stuck to the books, there would be no surprises. You could go pick up the books anywhere and know exactly what was coming. So personally, I don’t see any benefit of making a carbon copy of the books for TV.

Will Eric be a bigger part of the show in season three? Will he and Sookie get together?

I can’t tell you if they’re going to get together, because that’s going to ruin the anticipation. But, if you’ve been following season two, he’s definitely been doing things to make her more vulnerable and more susceptible to him. And he does want her, he’s just not sure why. I think it’s deeper than just, “I want her because Bill Compton has her.” Although that’s part of it, because Eric is a total alpha-dog.

Yeah, that opening scene in “Frenzy” [of Eric and Sookie in bed together] was cool, but it kind of made me feel bad for Bill. I’m as big a fan of Eric as the next girl, but between him and Bill, it would be a tough choice!

They’re both vampires, and they’re both deadly, so there’s that. It’s the classic good boy/bad boy. The good boy, he’s great, but the bad boy … you can’t stop thinking about him.

I’m always prepared to be shocked and awed every episode, and I am. Can you tell us anything about season three?

Well, the book is out there, so I’m not giving anything away when I say that we’ll meet the Vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington. And we’ll encounter werewolves for the first time in the flesh; we’ve heard about them, but we’ll meet them. I’m very excited about the character of Debbie Pelt. She’s bad news.

Since I haven’t read the books, who is that?

Debbie Pelt is the ex-girlfriend of a guy who’s helping Sookie try to find Bill, and she is just hard ass, white trash bitch on wheels. She’s so much fun. But there are other great characters, too. Everybody is struggling with identity in season three – What am I? Who am I? What is my life? Is it what I want it to be? How do I make it what I want it to be? What are my real values? And some people are like, “Am I human? I always thought I was, but maybe I was wrong.” In one particular case, its like, “Yes, honey, you were wrong.”

Is that Sookie? Is she part faerie? Can you tell me that?

I can tell you that Sookie is not 100 percent human. She is now aware of that.

After the white-light thing with Maryann.

Yes. She doesn’t know what she is, but she knows that it’s not totally human.

Do you believe in the supernatural?

I certainly believe that what we perceive as humans is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t necessarily believe in vampires or werewolves or that kind of thing, but I believe there is definitely a realm we don’t necessarily have access to. I don’t know what it is, and I hesitate to articulate it further than that, because I have no idea what it is, but I know it’s there.

TV Guide interviewed Michele Forbes who gave some clues abut the finale before it aired:

So, we learned from Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne that Maryann is actually a maenad. What the heck is that?
A maenad is also known as the raving one or the wild one. They’re mythic creatures in Greek mythology who followed Dionysius and Bacchus and revel in chaos and destruction. They drink wine, have sex and have no boundaries. That excess is their quest for purity. As they sing their praises to their god, they hope that he comes.

And how can she be destroyed?
Once she believes the god is finally coming, that will be her vulnerability. Or shall I say her Achilles’ Heel.

The whole town of Bon Temps is gunning for Maryann. Should we be worried for her?
Sure. The whole town does want her gone. She has the whole town in her clutches except for a few stray ones like Sam and Sookie. Her final goal is to grab everyone so that she can achieve her goal. But she should have cause for caution.

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Wil Wheton announced on Twitter that he will be guest staring in an episode of The Big Bang Theory: “An announcement of extraordinary magnitude: I will be on an episode of #thebigbangtheory this season. That’s all I’m allowed to say. GLEE!”  Wheton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation (but don’t hold that against him–he didn’t write the role) and is author of Just A Geek, making him a natural for the show.

Ain’t It Cool News reports that Iron Man 2 might be filmed in 3D.

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USA Today took a look at Flash Forward, the upcoming show based upon Robert Sawyer’s novel:

The premise centers on a two-minute, 17-second blackout that strikes the world’s population, followed by crashes, deaths and other disasters that result from the global unconsciousness. During the blackout, almost everyone has a vision — a flash-forward — six months ahead, to April 29, 2010. 10 p.m. PT, to be exact. Some are welcome, and some, including the wife’s vision of the lover, are not.

The task is to find out what happened and if the flash-forward prophecies will, or must, come to pass.

“We are the only species that thinks about the future,” says executive producer David Goyer, whose writing credits include Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. “It’s the blessing and curse of being human.”

Joseph Fiennes, who plays FBI agent Mark Benford, centers a team assigned to solve the blackout that includes partner Demetri Noh (John Cho); colleague Janis Hawk (Christine Woods); and their boss, Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance). They and the other characters, including Benford’s surgeon wife, Olivia (Sonya Walger), share their visions, but viewers see only bits and pieces at first, leaving twists and turns to be explored.

And “some people lie about their flash-forwards, so it’s a little misdirection happening,” Vance says. “It leaves the writers enormous latitude to tell stories.”

Of fall’s new shows, FlashForward most closely fits the definition of the serialized epic, a sweeping tale mixing action, suspense, mystery, romance and melodrama. “It’s a buffet,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone) says. “To reach the widest audience possible, you need to have that spice. You have to have that wide variety.”

The best current example of the big, bold serialized mystery: ABC hit Lost. Fox’s 24 incorporates many of those elements, though each season is self-contained. Fox’s paranormal Fringe tries to temper its serialized elements, mixing long-term story with shorter, weekly ones. And ABC launches a remake of alien-invasion serial V in November.

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Patrick Stewart says he might play Professor Xavier again but not Jon Luc Picard:

In a talk show interview setting, Stewart fielded questions about his career and memories of his tenure as captain of the Enterprise. He was barely aware of “Trek” when he got the role and was “guaranteed” by friends and others that the show wouldn’t work.

He discussed how horribly uncomfortable the show’s uniforms were originally, leading his doctor to contact the production office demanding that they be changed.

When asked about fellow convention guests Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, Stewart talked about how much he respected Nimoy. As for Shatner, he paused and said, “He’s a piece of work, isn’t he?”

He was also particularly pleased to be able to recall the plots of some favorite episodes mentioned from the titles.

When the discussion turned to “X-Men,” Stewart, who had a cameo as a younger Professor Charles Xavier in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” said that from what he had heard, audiences have probably not seen the last of the professor. He mentioned he recently co-starred in a production of “Waiting for Godot” with Ian McKellen and the two agreed that they would like continue exploring the relationship between Xavier and McKellen’s “X-Men” character Magneto.

As for that other franchise, Stewart thought that this summer’s reboot of “Star Trek” was “terrific,” but didn’t see a future for Jean-Luc Picard in the franchise, leaving open only the possibility that he would agree to do a cameo in a sequel. Stewart mentioned a proposed final “Next Generation” film, but after the disappointing box office for “Star Trek: Nemesis,” it never materialized.

“I feel that I have left behind a legacy as Picard,” he said. “In my head and heart, I’ve moved on.”

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Megan Fox of Transformers will be guest host of the season opener of Saturday Night Live on September 26.

A sneak peak has been released of the second season of Dollhouse:

SciFi Weekend: Surprises on Dollhouse and Lost (Penelope Widmore is Sally Harper!)

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There were several surprises this week. Some of the surprises were actually anticipated but this isn’t necessarily bad as it could indicate that the writers did a good job of setting up the surprises as opposed to bringing in things out of left field. Spoilers released earlier in the season also made some more predictable.

Briar Rose, this week’s episode of Dollhouse, began with one surprise as Ballard dumped Mellie. At first I was surprised he would to this but the moment we saw Mellie back with her handler the reason became clear. I had no doubt that Ballard was following and that this would be how he found the location of the Dollhouse.

While Ballard was hunting for the Dollhouse, the obligatory Echo story showed yet another use for the Dollhouse’s technology as this was used to help an abused child. It was not clear how this organization, which generally sells their services to millionaires, wound up helping this child (or how they could find the Dollhouse when the FBI could not).

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The real surprise of the episode was that Kepler turned out to be Alpha, but I actually expected that even before they made in inside of the Dollhouse. This guess was helped both by knowing that the season would end with a confrontation with Alpha and as Joss Whedon had already hinted that we would first see Alpha in a different identity.

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The show started out with problems, probably because of the interference from Fox, but is ending the season strong from a creative if not ratings standpoint.  Briar Rose set up a the finale, which will hopefully be a season as opposed to a series finale, with Alpha taking Echo. It turns out that both Ballard and Alpha are obsessed with Echo/Caroline. Of course after her nude picture in Allure (above) , I imagine there might be lots of guys who are obsessed with Eliza Dushku.

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Lost had its 100th episode, centering around Daniel Faraday. The Variable probably foreshadows the final episodes of the season as they move on from living with the Dharma people. The show could turn out to be a real game changer if it does turn out that people are variables which can change events, contrary to what we were previously told. The ultimate surprise could turn out to be that everything changes.

The surprise in this episode which came as no surprise was seeing Daniel Faraday get shot by his mother, Eloise Hawking, after going back in time before he was born. (It would have been far more interesting if instead he shot his mother before he was born, but presumably time could not be altered in that manner). We had already known that a major character would die before the end of the season and, being gone for a while, Faraday certainly seemed expendable. Seeing him enter the hostile’s camp after outright telling Jack and Kate that any one of them could be killed made his death so obvious that I told my wife that he was about to get killed with total certainty.

There are suggestions that there could be variables which change time, but it does not appear that changing Daniel’s fate is included. Eloise Hawking seems to know more about time travel and the island than anyone else. If she had sent Daniel back to the island, knowing that her younger self would kill him, she must be very certain that time could not be changed. Perhaps she had everyone else go back in the hopes someone else would be killed or events could have been chaged in a different way, but if she really thought she could change events the most sensible course would have been to keep Daniel from returning (unless there are other reasons this was not possible). It is conceivable that, like Ben, Daniel will survive the shooting but I will be very surprised if this is the case. What remains to be seen is whether Jack or anyone else does can change the sequence of events which have taken place on the island, leading to the crash of Oceanic Flight 815.

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While somewhat contrived, they made use of a story featuring Daniel and Eloise to show that Desmond is all right in the future as Eloise met with Penelope Widmore at the hospital. We also found, in a relatively minor surprise, that Charles Widmore was Daniel’s father.

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The biggest surprise of the week for me came when I obtained copies of the US version of Coupling. The show was based upon a BBC show which I previously discussed here.  The US version was intended to replace Friends but was actually a combination of Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex and the City. The BBC version, besides being one of the greatest comedies ever made, is notable for being written by Steven Moffat, who will be taking over as show runner for Doctor Who when it returns on a regular basis in 2010.

The show was a flop in the United States but now that I’ve seen the BBC version I wanted to give the US version another chance. Seeing what the series turned into in the BBC version, I was curious to see the entire US run, especially as only four out of eleven episodes were aired here.

One problem the show had in the United States was the protests about the amount of sex discussed in the show. It was also probably hurt by the shorter length of the US version due to commercials. Typical episodes of Coupling were like many episodes of Seinfeld in which different stories often came together at the end. Taking an excellent script by Moffat and cutting out several minutes would be likely to ruin it.

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I’ve wondered if the problem could have been the quality of the actors. Here is where I had the surprise. Playing the beggining of an episode I found that in the US version Sally Harper was played by Sonya Walger. Walger also plays Penelope Widmore on Lost, was in the HBO series Tell Me You Love Me, and played Michelle Dixon on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

The presence of Sonya Walger alone does not redeem the US version of Coupling, but after seeing her in Lost on Wednesday I was surprised to see her face when I started to watch Coupling. Although it has an ensemble cast, Sally was far less significant to the stories as compared to characters such as Steve and Susan. The actor playing Steve also looked familiar, and I later tracked him down to be Jay Harrington, who currently is doing an excellent job as star of Better Off Ted (shown here with Portia de Rossi of Allie McBeal and Arrested Development). Presumably he has improved his comedy skills since staring on Coupling.

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SciFi Weekend: Barack Obama, Superhero; Sarah Connor Rumors; Flash Forward; The Prisoner; and Jack is Back

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Barack Obama  will appear on the cover of a special issue of Spider-Man to be released on January 14. Peter Bart of Variety calls Barack Obama America’s last Action Hero.

There’s no new “Spider-Man” or “Iron Man” on the immediate horizon, but the superhero genre is alive and well. As evidence, consider next week’s inauguration.

Historians cannot remember a moment when a president has arrived amid such lofty expectations. Barack Obama will not simply be sworn in; if he’s not careful he will be enshrined.

Back in 1932, there were vague hopes that Franklin Roosevelt might help solve the Great Depression, but FDR was an unprepossessing patrician who spoke funny and sat in a wheelchair. Voters were more puzzled than expectant.

But today, in the eyes of the world, Barack Obama is nothing short of the Last Action Hero. (He even makes an appearance in a bonus issue of the “Spider-Man” comicbook coming out on Jan. 14.)

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Later Bart describes what Obama can learn from the superheroes:

If Barack Obama is going to bring this off, perhaps he should take note of a few of the traits of the superhero fraternity.

“Iron Man’s” gift is that he has a strong moral compass. And he knows how to handle the military-industrial complex (it’s part of his family).

“Spider-Man’s” relevant gift is that he can swing from situation to situation with amazing dexterity, never quite leaving a mark. That’s good politics.

“Batman” is smart at choosing his battles. And, as he reminded us this last outing, he’s damn good at generating box office. Obama take note: Ticket sales are like votes.

We can skip “Superman.” His outfit is a bit embarrassing and his ambiguities toward women keep getting in the way.

Will the superhero franchise come through for Barack Obama? Anyone who starts off with a trillion-dollar economic package needs all the showbiz tricks he can mobilize.

There are lots of rumors going around regarding upcoming events on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Reportedly Jon meets his father, Kyle Reese in an upcoming episode. I assume that either this will be on a diffrent time line from the movie series, or maybe this will be an eariler trip back in time (from Kyle’s perspective) prior to the events of the first Terminator movie. Reportedly Riley did not die as it appeared at the mid-season cliff hanger, but such an outcome of a cliff hanger would hardly be a surprise.

Shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have problems building an audience as many potential viewers are reluctant to come in on a story in progress. At the start of the season a decision was made to make each episode more of a stand-alone story. I doubt this would matter in a series such as this which has developed such a detailed mythology that new viewers would still have trouble keeping track of what is going on. Now they have decided to return to a more serialized format, which probably will work better in a series of this type.

Sci FI Wire interviewed Brannon Braga on his planned show Flash Forward based upon the novel by Robert Sawyer. the show is planned to follow Lost and will even have one actress in common with roles on both shows–Sonya Walger.

Brannon Braga, the onetime Star Trek executive producer, says that his ABC sci-fi pilot Flash Forward—in which the Earth’s inhabitants have a simultaneous glimpse of their futures, then must live with the consequences—is designed to reset itself each season, starting with a new flash and ending when the premonitions come true.

“Yeah, the structure’s not dissimilar from 24 [on which Braga is a co-executive producer], and we want to reset the show at the end of each year, where we’ll do another flash forward at the end of the first season, and then potentially another flash forward at the end of the second season, each one kind of resetting the core characters’ visions of the future and introducing new characters,” Braga said in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Hollywood premiere party for 24‘s seventh season, which kicks off this weekend.

Braga—who developed Flash Forward with producer/writer/director David Goyer and Goyer’s wife and producing partner, Jessika Borsiczky Goyer—adds: “One of the cool things about the show is you have 5 billion potential storylines. And we plan to tell the stories of people all over the world. Obviously they’ll be focused on mainly people here in L.A., but we’re going to go all over the place.”

The pilot follows a group of characters around the world who have to deal with the consequences of a 2-minute, 17-second glimpse into the future. The series is loosely based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel Flashforward.

“The core concept is very much the same as Robert Sawyer’s novel,” Braga says. “That was the impetus for it and the idea of the entire world blacking out at the same time for a discrete amount of time, and everybody on Earth having mysterious visions of the future. Same idea. Obviously, to do a TV show, you have to sustain potentially—and God willing—100 episodes or more; you’ve got to change the concept a little bit. His novel had people having visions of the future 20 years from now. We change that to five months from now and kind of narrowed down the scope a little bit and made it a little bit more of an intimate epic. But essentially the concept is the same.”

The show features an ensemble cast, led by Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger, John Cho, Christine Woods, Jack Davenport and Courtney B. Vance, and is envisioned as a companion to Lost. Goyer directs the one-hour pilot, which goes into production in February in Los Angeles.

“We just finished casting the pilot right before the holiday, and we just went into … official prep on it two days ago, so David is busy getting ready to direct, and we’re going to shoot it next month, right after President’s Day,” Braga says.

Ultimately, the show will deal with the theme of free will vs. fate, Braga says. “Absolutely,” he says, adding: “Thematically that’s what the show is about, for sure. Yeah, and seeing how these people’s visions come true or not come true or come true because they tried to not make it come true. Some people want it to come true. Some people don’t want it to come true. It’s a fascinating concept. We’re very excited about it.”

Sci FI Wire has information on the reimagined minseries, The Prisoner, which AMC will air next November:

American Movie Classics has shot a six-hour miniseries re-imagining of The Prisoner for modern-day audiences. One of the biggest changes in this re-imagining is that Six is now American, played by Jim Caviezel.

“I don’t think it makes any difference,” director Nick Hurran said in a press conference Jan. 8 in Universal City, Calif. “It’s a mixed-nationality cast. It’s a very global Village. I think we accept that now. We’re so used to a society being of every culture, every race, that it would have been quite parochial to go and do a British thing.”

This Village is set in the middle of a desert, as opposed to the seaside Village of the original. “Epic is absolutely the right word,” Hurran said. “The vistas that this prison gives, setting it in the Namibian desert or the nonspecific desert that we don’t know where it is, the character Six runs away to get free, to escape, and just keeps running and keeps running, and there is more sand than I have ever seen in my life. It gets to places you never knew you had.”

The desert turned out to be a production nuisance when the filmmakers had to re-create location shoots in Namibia. The majority of production was based in Cape Town, South Africa. “My overriding memory of this production is sand, no matter where we were,” Hurran said. “It returned, even in South Africa, when we had to try and re-create some locations to make them look like they were still in the Village. We needed to import sand and carefully, painstakingly lay it across the streets of Cape Town. Unfortunately, Cape Town’s very windy, and the wind certainly blew and blew all of the carefully laid sand about 100 meters into front yards and people’s letterboxes. So sand remained with us forever.”

Die-hard fans of the original Prisoner will notice some familiar tidbits. “There are a number of, of course, homages that the keen eye will see in what’s said and what’s worn, in pieces of architecture,” Hurran said. “Of course, there are a number of salutes that we made to the fantastic piece that was created. I think it would be a shame to take it to the next generation and not acknowledge what an extraordinary piece of work that was. [It’s] enigmatic, I think slightly less surreal, but it is as bizarre, in a good way.”

The big event today is the first of two two-hour episodes of 24 airing today and tomorrow to start the season. Sci FI Wire gives eight reasons why 24 is really science fiction.

SciFi Friday: Sayid the Assassin; Sonya Walger Gets Around; And Post Strike Television Plans


Lost had yet another excellent episode this week, both on and off the island. Since they went to flash forwards, the portions off the island have often been the more interesting parts of the episodes. This is a Sayid centered show. We both see him become the first to leave the island and in the flash forwards we see his new life. Sayid becomes an assassin, but he appears to be doing this to protect his friends. We never find out who he is protecting them from, or what secret is placing them in such danger, but the show does end with a surprise which perhaps we should have expected. Back on the island Sayid told Locke, “the day he trusts Ben is the day he’s sold his soul.” That should have been our clue that he would wind up working for Ben.

Ben is also off the island, but presumably he isn’t one of the Oceanic 6. From what we find in the secret room in his house, it also doesn’t look like it is unusual for him to leave the island. However if he could leave the island to use those passports and the money, why didn’t he do so when he needed cancer surgery?

Besides the big mysteries on Lost, there are also the smaller ones. For example, home come both Naomi and Elsa, the girl Sayid is involved with in this episode, have the same bracelet. We can be sure that is no coincidence. We get a clue that there is something strange going on with time when Daniel Faraday performs his experiments. Daniel warns Frank that he must be sure of following the exact same route back to the freighter. My bet is that if he strays off course he’ll wind up in a different time.

Now that the strike is over, five additional episodes are being produced to complete the season. This will mean a one month hiatus.

I just found out this week that Lost and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have something, or someone, in common. Sonya Walger, who plays Penelope Widmore on Lost also plays Michelle Dixon on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Television viewers have also seen more of her, literally much more, on HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me. Rather than that wimp of a husband on Tell Me You Love Me, I can see Carolyn being more fulfilled as part of the secrets she is clearly involved in as Penelope.

Meanwhile, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is getting more complicated with more characters getting involved. This includes finding that Kyle Reese of the original movie, and John’s father, had a brother. I suspect the Derek Reese story line will continue for a while, which seems to have more potential than dragging out the Jordan suicide storyline. At least it did set up Cameron’s line: “I’m done with grief counseling. I’m feeling much better.” I will also never trust a computerized chess game again, now that we know that it just might turn into Skynet and try to wipe out humanity if it loses.


Jericho is back and moving in a new direction. Instead of being on their own, or under attack by a neighboring town, they are now being integrated into a new government which is taking control of most of the area west of the Mississippi. We can be certain that the Cheyenne government is up to no good, and this should leave a lot for Robert Hawkins to do.

There’s a lot of other television news with the strike over. Here’s a good summary of what is going on with most shows. CBS has also started to announce their plans for next season. How I Met Your Mother , The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Terms of Engagement are all still up in the air. HIMYM is one of the best comedies on, and to end it now would be like ending Friends before Ross and Rachel got back together.

bianca_kajilch.jpg

I’ve seen some speculation that ultimately HIMYM will be renewed, but that they are waiting to see how Christine and Engagement do the rest of this season to decide which of the two to fit into the schedule. If it comes down to the two, I’d vote for Christine, but Terms of Engagement also shows potential and I’d hate to see it dropped considering how few good sitcoms are now on television. My suspicion is that the show with Bianca Kajlich (above) will win out.

Being in need of material during the strike, CBS is going to show a cleaned up version of Dexter. From the reviews I’ve seen, they do a decent job with the cuts to clean it up for network television, but the Showtime version is still better.

For those, like me, who were going to make their Christmas Day plans around the opening of Star Trek XI, you no longer need to have to figure out how to convince your wife to go along with this. The opening of the movie has been pushed back to May 8, 2009. This will both allow them to take advantage of the summer movie market, and allow them to make a few rewrites now that the writers are back.