SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Arrow; Revolution; SHIELD; The Americans; Almost Human; Does Ted’s Wife Die On How I Met Your Mother?; Continuum; Cosmos; Captain America; 24; Karen Gillan; Mad Men

Hannibal - Season 2

Sakizuki, the second episode this season of Hannibal, did an excellent job of blending a serial killer of the week story with the overall mythology of the show. Hannibal did track down the killer the FBI was hunting, but finished the killer’s job before the FBI got there. Only Hannibal could look so fashionable in a plastic suit, or convince the killer to become a part of his own work. Will Graham is doing an expert job of playing a cat and mouse game with Hannibal. He purposely looked beaten when saying, “I am the unreliable narrator of my own story” and asking for Hannibal’s help, but looks far stronger when alone, contemplating his next step.

The biggest tension of the show involved Hannibal and his psychiatrist, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier played by Gillian Anderson. There were moments when it was not clear if she would come out alive, with this tension increased by the knowledge that Anderson is involved in two other shows this season. Instead the episode made it plausible for Dr. Du Maurier to disappear for a while (or have a reduced) role without winding up visiting Hannibal for dinner. I suspect she will return towards the end of the season and be involved in Hannibal’s downfall, as foreshadowed by the start of last week’s episode, especially with her telling Will she believes him at the end of this week’s episode.

Bryan Fuller discussed the episode with A.V. Club. An excerpt:

AVC: Bedelia leaves town at the end. Obviously, you had limited time with the character because Gillian Anderson has another show…

BF: Another couple of shows!

AVC: What did you want to do with bringing her back, and how much of her backstory with Hannibal do you, as writers, know?

BF: There was a much bigger, broader, longer story to be had with Bedelia that I’m hoping we get to play out in some form in the future, but because of Gillian’s schedule, we were only able to get her for a couple of episodes at the beginning of the season, and we’re desperately trying to figure out how to get her to navigate her schedule and get her back to wrap up her story. Though we want the audience to think when they see the trailer for episode two that she’s going to get killed at the end. The idea would be to get her back. There’s so much cool stuff with her backstory and her relationship with Hannibal and how closely it parallels Will’s relationship with Hannibal, which would be explored in an episode toward the end of the season if we can figure out schedules.

AVC: She also tells Will that she believes his story. How important was it to you to give Will an unquestioning ally at this point?

BF: I think he needed it, because there was so much despair, and everybody was just assuming he was guilty of all of these crimes. I think he needed someone to say simply, “I believe you.” When I was writing that scene I teared up, because something so simple as someone saying, “I understand you, and I believe you,” when you’re in a dark, lonely place is such a beacon of hope. I love Gillian Anderson as a human being and as an actress. And I love Hugh Dancy as a human being and as an actor, so I was excited to get them in a scene together, especially one that was so still and eerie and wrought. I’ve always been inspired by this line from Damaged that Juliette Binoche says, which is, “Damaged people are dangerous, because they know they can survive,” and I paraphrased that in the last scene with Dr. Du Maurier and Will Graham, where there is a camaraderie in the damaged. You may feel you are alone in your damage, because it is such an interior experience to be damaged in that way, and then to have somebody come along who you know can know you in that way, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a glimmer of hope. So I was really excited about that moment, writing it, and even more excited when I saw the actors perform it, because I do think that there is a bond between Will and Bedelia that I hope we get to explore.

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Arrow picked up in The Promise where it left off last week with Slade in the Queen Mansion, but Team Arrow came to the rescue. The bulk of the episode, reversing the usual pattern, took place back on the island. Once again the show has greatly surpassed  most other attempts at bringing superheroes to the screen. The manner in which the back story is fleshed out on the island makes comic book scenarios in the present seem plausible, taking far less suspension of disbelief than is generally necessary to accept the conventions of superhero series. The scenes on the island also showed the first time Oliver ever put on his hood and Slade ever put on the Deathstroke mask in their attack on Ivo’s freighter. I wonder if we will see more of Dr. Ivo.

Revoloution Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher was a fun episode of Revolution, with the nanobots putting Aaron in the Matrix. Aaron was back in a world with electricity, seeing people he knows but who initially do not know him. Some took active roles in the story while Giancarlo Esposito was seen as a sleazy insurance salesman on billboards and television commercials. Although fun, the episode could have been much better if not for so many plot holes and being so predictable.

The premise was that the nanobots were trying to trick Aaron into solving a formula which would allow them to survive. As viewers we know they must survive as the destruction of the nanobots would mean they would not be around to eat all the electricity, ending the show (which might not be a bad thing). Just as we must suspend disbelief in the premise of nanobots which eat electricity which powers devices while ignoring the electricity in our nervous systems, we must grant the premise that the nanobots can mess around in Aaron’s brain but could not just force him to solve the equation or extract the information they needed.

Aaron’s mind fought back, first in the form of Charlie. Seeing her shot in the head was one of the highlights of the episode. After being chased by Horn, who represented Aaron’s greatest fears, he managed to wind up with Rachel, Miles, and Monroe. Aaron gave the nanobots the information they needed to manipulate him by telling Rachel he would never harm her. At first Rachel, Miles, and Monroe did not recognize Aaron, creating some drama, but then suddenly they knew everything. It was too easy. They came up with the idea that if Aaron fell in this “dream” he would wake up, unconcerned about horror stories in which death in one’s dreams results in death in the real world.

From here it was so predictable. Aaron appeared to wake up. Rachel was placed in danger, and Aaron gave in and solved the equation. Then (coming as no surprise) it was revealed that he was still in the Matrix. I would have expected Aaron to have seen enough science fiction to see that one coming.

SHIELD TAHATI

T.A.H.I.T.I. was revealed on this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be not the Island where Agent Coulson was rehabilitated after being brought back from the death but a room with possibly alien science which was used to save him. The show is certainly more fun to watch than in the early episodes, but remains a disappointment. Ignoring the superhero and science fiction elements, the show just remains impossible to believe. Among other problems, there are no consequences as would be expected in an agency of this nature. In a previous episode, Simmons knocked out a superior with no repercussions. It appears that this was totally consistent with the world in which Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. operates.

The show opened with faux drama in having Bill Paxton as Agent Garrett coming to board Coulson’s plane for disobeying orders in keeping custody of Ian Quinn. False drama and no consequences once again as Paxton and Coulson worked things out. The handling of Quinn made me wonder if S.H.I.E.L.D. is really supposed to be the good guys or a parody of our worst fears of the Bush administration. It is understandable that Coulson would place a high priority on saving Skye’s life, but absurd to expect that he would attack a base, and kill those working there, when the base had to either be part of S.H.I.E.L.D. or another facility they were working with. Then more false drama when Coulson suddenly decided they should not inject Skye with the drug, followed by the drug magically healing her wounds.

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Fortunately The Americans presented a spy story which seems much more grounded in reality as it continued to deal with the repercussions of another undercover family being killed last week. Philip went to check if they guy in the drop knew anything but things didn’t go well between Philip and Fred at first. Philip’s efforts to gain Fred’s trust was far more compelling to watch than the relationship between Phil Coulson and Agent Garrett on SHIELD.  I loved seeing Elizabeth’s fear as the construction truck pulled up outside of their home, along with her side trip to help out another agent. What will Paige walk in on next?  Once again, there are so many story lines being expertly intertwined.

I was a little puzzled by Nina telling Stan about the walk-in at the Soviet Embassy. Certainly her handlers would realize that the embassy was being watched and the FBI would figure out who it was. Did the Russians have no real interest in Bruce Dameran? Did they just make a mistake allowing Nina to mention this, was it a mistake on Nina’s part, or on some level did Nina still want to help Stan?

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One problem that Almost Human faced is that episodes were aired out of order. While there was no major continuing story line which required viewing the episodes in order, the most enjoyable aspect of the series was the relationship between John and Dorian. Seeing them out of order led to a couple of recent episodes which lacked this dynamic which had been filmed earlier. Fortunately the final two episodes of the season were done later when this relationship was better established.

It is unfortunate that, despite hints of developing an ongoing storyline, little came of this and the final two episodes were again essentially stand alone cases of the week. The season finale did concentrate on the dynamic between John and Dorian, with Dorian’s performance review. I had feared that they might run a cheap cliff hanger of having Dorian fail and be scheduled to be removed as John’s partner, only to have this reversed next season. Fortunately they did not succumb to a feeling they had to do a cliff hanger as far too many shows do. With or without a cliff hanger, this show was entertaining enough to return to next season. I just hope they do more to expand on some plot lines they hinted at this season, such as what really happened in the ambush at the start of the season and what is beyond the wall.

HIMYM MomA

How I Met Your Mother is winding down and this week’s episode, Vesuvius, did a lot to promote a fan theory which has been going around that the Mother had died before Ted began his stories, possibly with Ted actually winding up with Aunt Robin. The first episode of the series had viewers expecting it was a typical love story about Ted meeting Robin and eventually marrying her until the ending, That’s how I met your Aunt Robin.

There have been scenes suggesting that the Mother might not remain alive, but all have alternative explanations and are far from definitive. The most compelling was in The Time Travelers in which Ted was outside his future wife’s apartment and said,  “Exactly 45 days from now, you and I are going to meet. I want those extra 45 days with you. I want each one of them.” If the two were really to meet in 45 days and live a long life together, there would be little reason for Ted to be so concerned about getting those 45 extra days together.

In a fifth season episode, How I Met Everyone Else, Ted, Marshall, and Lily are seen at a reunion in 2020 and it was awkward when Ted asked, “Where is my wife?”

There are pictures of Neil Patrick Harris on the set of the final episode in regular clothes. Barney has said that the one time he doesn’t wear a suit is to funerals. Could he have been filming a scene of the Mother’s funeral?

All of these items, along with suspicious answers by the cast about the finale, could be explained in other ways. Vesuvius keeps theories that the Mother will die alive. Throughout the episode there is a sense of sadness in the way Ted looks at his wife in scenes of the two from 2024. The most suspicious scene of all was when there was mention of the present when Robin’s mother made it to the wedding. The big question, with tears filling both of their eyes was, “What kind of mother would miss her daughter’s wedding?” Were these tears of happiness for Robin as they thought back on her wedding day, or tears of sadness as the two realized that Ted’s wife was dying and would never see her daughter’s wedding? Was she dying in 2024, or worse was Future Ted revising the Inn with the ghost of his wife?

It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Barney and Robin either wind up not getting married or if their marriage doesn’t last. In the final twist of the series, it could turn out that Ted and Aunt Robin are married. Then it would not matter as much that Robin could not have her own children as she might wind up eventually becoming the mother to Ted’s children. The series could easily be seen as an explanation to the children why Robin was the one he was meant to be with if their mother could no longer be with them.

This plan would have made a lot of sense when the series was first developed and fans rooted for Ted and Robin to get together. Now fans are strongly hoping it is not the case. Too much has changed. As absurd as the pairing of Barney and Robin was at first, fans now want them to succeed together. More importantly, fans have fallen in love with Cristin Milioti’s still unnamed character this season and having her die would be far too sad a way to end the series.

Another possible explanation for the scene in Vesuvius is that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas want to make us believe the Mother does have a serious illness in 2024, but in the end she survives. Perhaps they even changed their original plans after seeing  how this season has played out.

Moving on to another series involving time travel, Rachel Nichols and the cast of Continuum discuss season 3 in the video above.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBTd9–9VMI

An updating of Cosmos was already a big event. We know so much more than when Carl Sagan first aired the show. As an example of how important this show is in an age of such tremendous misunderstanding and denial of science, the show is going to be introduced by Barack Obama.

Extended clip above of Captain America and Black Widow from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Trailer for 24: Live Another Day

Clip of Karen Gillan in Oculus

As usual, previews of Mad Men tell us very little.

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SciFi Weekend: Continuum Season Finale (Major Spoilers); Broadchurch–Looking at Season 2 Without Spoiling Season 1; Hugo Awards; Benedict Cumberbatch; Star Trek Science

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For the last few days I felt a little like a time traveler with information about the future which should not be spread. I binged on both seasons of Continuum over one week, watching the season finale on a download from the original Showcase broadcast last Tuesday. Of course all the Canadian viewers must have felt like this for a few weeks.  This is a Canadian show on a network required to include some Canadian shows, so I immediately put aside any skepticism as to Vancouver being the key North American city in 2077. Now that SyFy has also broadcast the finale in the United States, I feel I can to on to discuss the show with some major spoilers.

Until I began watching, I had fears that Continuum might be a police procedural with the gimmick of a future cop and terrorists from the future. It was clear early that the show is much more complex, moving into new territory in the second season, and setting up the show to move in yet more new directions in the upcoming third season. Rachel Nichols plays future City Protective Services (CPS) Protector Kiera Cameron who was sent back in time from 2077 to our present along with a group of terrorists (Liber8) who escaped their death sentence with time travel The world of 2077 is, on the surface, the dream of several libertarian fantasies as governments have collapsed and corporations have taken over. It doesn’t turn out the way in which libertarians fantasize as the corporations have no respect for our concepts of individual liberty or restrictions on the power of the state.

Seeing the future which Liber8 is trying to prevent makes it very hard to decide who to root for in the series, and a factor which keeps the show so interesting. In the season two finale, Liber8 leader Travis claims that he, and not Kiera, is the good guy in this story. Many viewers would probably agree if not for the excessive violence utilized by Travis and others in Liber8. There have also been differences of opinion, and even a civil war, within Liber8, with some taking a less violent approach. Kiera is the protagonist of the story and does what she believes is right based upon her knowledge, but at least so far lacks the knowledge provided to the viewers about the system she defends.

Another major player is Alec Sadler, who as a young man assists Kiera and as an old man in 2077 (played by William B. Davies, the cigarette-smoking man of X-Files), runs the most powerful tech company in the world). Young Sadler connects with Kiera early because her CMR (an implant which, among other things, provides communication for Protectors) works on a frequency which Alec was experimenting on in the lab in his garage. Alec’s step-brother Julian is originally portrayed as being a messed up kid fated to become a mass murderer but by later in the second season it appears he becomes one of the most heroic characters of the series, with far more to the stories of mass murder by his future self than Kiera understands.

While doing repairs, Alec found messages from his future self placed in Kiera’s super-powered body suit which revealed that Liber8 and Kiera were intentionally sent back in time by his future self. This means that old Alec has developed reservations about the system which he was involved in creating as he sent Liber8 back in time to change the future, with Kiera possibly sent along to keep their violence in check. Even after two seasons, all the details of Alec’s plans are not yet clear. The members of Liber8 appear to be successful in creating the roots of a rebellion against Corporate control but cause and effect create a number of questions in this series. The anti-terror task force in the police department becomes CPS with corporate sponsorship in response to the threat from Liber8, being just one situation seen where we question whether the time travelers are actually creating the future of 2077. In an analogous situation, it is Kiera who wound up radicalizing Julian with her threat to kill him.

The ability to change the future on this show is quite unclear and I will return to this question later. In one episode Kiera captures a mass murderer who in her time was known for never having been caught. We do not know which events, if any, would actually change things in her future. A character believed to be another character’s grandmother is even killed, with the character not showing any change.

Not everyone sets out to change the future. Matthew Kelog was a reluctant member of the group all along, dragged into illegal activity by his sister.  After arriving in his past he left the terrorists and made a fortune with his knowledge of the future. One nit pick is that he made this fortune far too quickly. Knowledge of which businesses succeeded and other events will certainly help build a successful portfolio but this would take time. It is unrealistic that he would know enough winners of major sporting events from that far back in the past to amass a huge fortune from gambling so quickly either. It would be more plausible if he knew his destination and had time to do research before being sent back.

If time travel is possible, it only makes sense that there might be other time travelers around. Two characters, including one named Jason who happens to share DNA with Alec, were sent back in time from the original breakout but wound up in an earlier time. Jason is kind of nuts. Is this the result of being in the past so long? I suspect it was more  the result of being thrown into a mental institution when he went back in time and claimed to be from the future. It is hard to judge this based upon other characters as one other showed signs of mental imbalance but others did not.

Complicating matters further are the Freelancers who are from a different time.

The second season finale answered some question but also set up potential major changes in the show. We learned that one recurring character whose goals were unclear, Escher, is a former Freelancer and Alec’s father while Jason shares his DNA as he is Alec’s son. There already had been the question as to what degree future technology developed by Alec was based upon knowledge he learned of the future as opposed to being his own inventions. Now that we learn that time travel is the family business, we don’t even know if Alec would even be in this time line without time travel.

If the revelation from Escher that he was Alec’s father reminded viewers of Darth Vader telling the same to Luke, the scene with both Kiera and Travis suited up was reminiscent of a fight scene from The Matrix.

With the police being turned into a corporate-controlled unit which violates civil liberties (also presenting a change in the portrayal of Inspector Dillon of the Vancouver Police), Kiera’s partner Carlos left the police and wound up with Julian, who had been an enemy in prior episodes. It is possible that Carlos is going undercover, but I suspect that he really was fleeing from the newly founded City Protective Services, who are now planning to arrest Kiera as a terrorist.

At different times in the finale Alec appeared to be using and double crossing both Escher and Kiera, going for his own trip through time in the finale. Most likely he is going back to save his girlfriend Emily, who was killed during the second season. Emily’s motives were also unclear earlier in the season as it was clear to everyone but Alec that her goal was to get into his lab, and she also turned out to be working for Escher. Will Alec succeed in saving Emily, and if so will this create a cosmic reset making the other events of the last couple of episodes not occur, or will it create a new time line with a living Emily parallel to the one where she was killed? Is Emily Jason’s mother?  It is also possible that Alec might wind up at a different time, such as when the characters were first sent back in time, or maybe just a few minutes before the Freelancers attacked.

The show often shifts back between the present and 2077, and key information is often not revealed until subsequent episodes (if at all so far). The second season began with a scene of Kiera being captured and put in a glass cage along with members of Liber8, including one who was  brought back from the dead or from a different point in time. Kiera then awoke from a dream (when some of her memories were wiped)in 2077 and it wasn’t clear if this was part of her dream in 2077 or an event from some other point in time. In the second season finale, Kiera is captured by the Freelancers, who claim a goal of defending the time line from time travelers and are as violent as Liber8.While t is hard to trust the motives of the Freelancers, are we actually seeing something like the Temporal Cold War from Star Trek: Enterprise? The season ends with a repeat of the scene with her being placed in the glass cage.

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Presumably this imprisonment occurs immediately after what appeared to be her capture, but this is far from certain. If she had been dreaming this in 2077 before she was sent back in time, it could be a suppressed memory from earlier, especially if she has wound up in a temporal loop due to changes in the time line which are not yet clear. It is also possible that she actually escaped at the end of the episode and the imprisonment scene occurs at some other point in time. Alec’s trip through time might wipe out everything we are seeing, or create a new time line in which this does not occur. If the third season does start with her in the glass cage, then what? The cages look more like short term holding cells than a permanent prison. Do the Freelancers plan to move them elsewhere or perhaps take them back to their own time? Does Alec and/or Escher save them, or do still more time travelers get involved?

One of the Freelancers did make a reference to different time lines in the finale, and this might be where the show is headed. It remains unanswered as to whether those sent back in time can change the future for old Alec or, as some incidents suggest, at most can create a different time line where things turn out different. Physics Today did look at the science of time travel in Continuum, but as 1) time travel is not real and 2) this is fiction and the show is going to follow whatever rules are made by its creators. We got some hints as from Simon Berry in this interview with some questions posted below:

The core of the show’s storytelling has always seemed to be the struggle between corporate dominance and the anarchy of Liber8. How do the Freelancers fit into that theme?

You will find out in the first episode of Season 3.

When did you guys decide that the show needed another group of time travelers in the mix?

The notion of Freelancers was introduced early in the writing room of season 1. We were going to bring it in then, but decided to hold back until Season 2.

In one episode, someone shoots Kellog’s grandmother and he’s unharmed. In another episode, Kiera solves a serial killer case that was never solved in her original timeline — and she still remembers seeing it as an unsolved case, back in 2077. Also, in one episode Old Alec tells Young Alec that he’s not Young Alec’s future self, but just a version of Alec that shares some experiences. So is it basically confirmed that you can change the past, but you’ll just create a brand new alternate timeline? Is that definite now?

The final episode of season 2 certainly points to that, but ‘definite’ is a dangerous word. Don’t get too hung up on the defining “multiverse versus closed loop” debate just yet.

We like to think of time in the context of our story: two points, 65 years apart. The belief that one can make small changes to the timeline now and that will upset 100% of the events in 65 years, is too simplistic. We’ve used the Tsunami metaphor in the show and I think it’s an appropriate one in this case. Small changes to that wave are certainly going to have an impact on the damage it does, but that doesn’t mean the wave doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

I think because the stories are Kiera-centric, we are tempted to believe that the changes to the timeline will affect her life more than others, but there’s no reason to think this way. Unless Kiera or Liber8 makes changes that are directly related to her family and Greg’s family, then there is still a good chance that she will be born and Greg will be born and they will meet.

The idea of multiple timelines in itself opens the door to connected timelines that could split like tree branches but then wrap around each other like vines, eventually merging again. That’s one of the amazing things about time travel; because it’s not a pure science, there is room for interpretation and the introduction of larger forces at work, be they natural or un-natural.

Even if Kiera is on an alternate timeline, she could theoretically return to a version of 2077 where her life played out 99% as it did. Now it’s true she would run into a version of herself that never went back in time and that would be complicated… But it would be deliciously complicated.

If so, then what does Old Alec have to gain by sending Kiera and the Liber8 gang back in time? Won’t he just create a different timeline that he can’t ever visit? From his viewpoint, how can Old Alec even know what changes happen as a result of that time travel?

Perhaps Old Alec understands more about what’s at stake than we’ve revealed to date. The final episode of season 2 will introduce the first threads of this larger storyline.

One of the big shifts in season two was the Vancouver Police Department coming under the control of Piron, or at least a big part of it. Do the police basically just become another gang in the city’s gang war at some point, and lose their legitimacy as cops? Have the police already crossed too many lines to be able to claim they’re upholding the law?

Well the Piron deal is really only with Dillon’s Liber8 task force so it was never meant to be a complete take-over (yet!) – What we are setting up is the very small moves that might lead towards an eventual corporate controlled police department a-la Robo-cop OCP scenario.

It seems as though the driving force behind the corporate takeover of the police was the arrival of Liber8. Are the Liber8 terrorists basically causing the corporate-controlled future they were trying to prevent, only ahead of schedule?

There’s a timely irony in that, and it’s not an accident.

And finally, it’s seemed as though Kiera isn’t sure what her goal is any more. At times she wants to preserve the timeline she comes from, but at other times, she’s willing to make some pretty big changes. (For example, being willing to shoot Julian, which would cause a pretty big change.) Are we going to see her regaining more of a clear sense of purpose in season three? Is her evolution as a character taking her someplace? And will we be learning more about Alec’s “purpose” for her?

It’s interesting that many comments pop up from time to time about Kiera not doing the ‘right’ thing or the ‘smart’ thing regarding time travel. This suggests she has the knowledge the audience has.

One of the unique aspects of Kiera Cameron in the Time Travel tradition is that she is one of the few characters in the genre who are not travelling by choice. Most Time Travel is driven by a character who understands the stakes and science of Time Travel, therefore their actions are determined based on their self aware role within the time continuum. They are willing adventurers who know the rules and usually have a goal and understanding of how to achieve it in context of their situation.

That is not the story of Continuum.

Kiera is an average person in 2077. She’s not a scientist or engineer. She’s not a theoretical physicist or even a fan of Science Fiction (unlike many of our fans who I believe would know what to do, and what not to do, if they found themselves in her shoes). Kiera is an unwilling victim of another person’s designs… She is us.

Kiera is fumbling her way through this experience using her humanity and experience as a guide, not a set of time travel rules or knowledge of paradoxes and wormholes. On occasion Alec will remind her of the possibilities and pitfalls, but without proof of anything, who’s to say what’s right or wrong. As Kiera evolves, so will her decisions.

For Kiera, this entire adventure is also a learning experience, and the lessons will form a critical path towards her becoming the person she needs to become in this mythology, and illuminate the “purpose” Alec had in mind for her.

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This weekend I binged on the entire season of Broadchurch. The story is about the murder of an eleven year old boy and the effects on the town. It stars David Tennant and its excellent cast includes a second actor who has starred on Doctor Who, Arthur Darvill. The third character in this scene, Olivia Coleman, also appeared in an episode of Doctor Who, The Eleventh Hour. As only four of eight episodes have shown so far in the United States on BBC America, I will avoid any meaningful spoilers. Those who want to know absolutely nothing (such as whether Danny’s killer is found) might want to skip the following.

Then I heard that the show had been renewed for a second season before completing the first, I was concerned that maybe they would leave things hanging, as occurs to some degree on another recent British crime drama, The Fall (staring Gillian Anderson). Broadchurch does have a very satisfying ending, showing not only the identity of the killer but answering many questions about other characters raised during the series. The killer might be guessed after a lot of information is provided in the seventh episode, but a big clue is held until the start of the eighth. With the killer apprehended, Broadchurch doesn’t appear to leave much room for a second season like the first, considering it would not be as realistic to have a second murder in the same place. Some of those involved in the show have said that the second season might be completely different:

Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival the network’s director of TV Peter Fincham said that viewers would not be subject to ‘a formulaic repeat of series one’ when the show returns in 2014.

He also did not confirm which members of the cast from the first series might – or might not – appear.

The comments mirror those of series creator Chris Chibnall, who confirmed earlier this year he was working on Broadchurch round two – but also stayed silent on whether Tennant and Colman would be back.

‘I would take nothing for granted, I would just wait and see!’ he commented.

Will Mellor, who played psychic phone engineer Steve Connolly, has also hinted that the next series could be a prequel – and may not even feature a whodunnit.

‘I can’t see it being about another murder because it will be a bit too coincidental. All I know is it’s going to be a surprise because the writer always catches you out,’ he said.

‘Maybe it’ll be a prequel, it might go back to the old case that David Tennant’s character [DI Alec Hardy] didn’t finish. Whatever it’ll be, it’ll be fantastic.’

red shirts

Redshirts by John Scalzi won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. The novel is an  homage to Star Trek, along with a look at what doesn’t completely work in television science fiction, and, continuing with the lead story today, even has some time travel.

The Avengers won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

Blackwater, an episode of Game of Thrones won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Three episodes of Doctor Who were also nominated in the category: The Angels Take Manhattan, Asylum of the Daleks, and The Snowmen. I wondered whether dividing the vote with three episodes might have prevented Doctor Who from winning again this year but looking at the total numbers Blackwater had more votes than all three episodes of Doctor Who combined.  The final nominee in this category was an episode of Fringe, Letters of Transit.

In the entertainment industry in 2077, Benedict Cumberbatch will be famous for being a part of every major movie franchise. Now there are reports that he will have a role in Star Wars VII. It looks like he should have some free time. Filming has completed on the third season of Sherlock.

James Spader has been cast to play Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Yet another story on Star Trek science maybe becoming fact. This time, a report on experiments at NASA which might make warp drive a reality. Maybe. Fareed Zacharia also had a segment on Sunday’s show on technologies which are similar to the replicator.

 Update: News came in later tonight that Frederik Pohl died over this past weekend.

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Live Blogging The Oscars

I’m primarily using Facebook (and am trying to remember to keep these posts open for everyone to read–I know I missed several). Some comments are also on Twitter–see the box on the left. I’ll also try to periodically update here, but there is far more on Facebook when the comments are included.

 

I’m really shocked that Buzz Lightyear didn’t show up to the Oscars to pick up the award.

Everybody get ready. If Social Network wins as best movie, everyone on Facebook is expected to go up on the stage.

What happens if Inception wins as best movie, and then everyone wakes up and finds the entire Academy Awards show is a dream?

The Social Network guys are asking “Is this really happening?” They must have confused their movie with Inception.

Inception beat King’s Speech and other movies for Sound Mixing. I agree that the sound in Inception was better than listening to stuttering.

I see Anne Hathaway got out of her tux. When is she going to put on her new Catwoman outfit?

Republicans disagree with Obama’s view on “As Time Goes By.” Their favorite song is “If You Could Turn Back Time”

At least one good thing about the Academy Awards compared to the Golden Globes. There’s no way Glee will win as best comedy tonight.

Yes it is wrong that not a single financial executive has gone to jail. It is also wrong that nobody who was involved with the two sequels to The Matrix has ever gone to jail.

Michael Moore on Twitter: Thank u Charles Ferguson 4 pointing out not a single Wall St crook has gone 2 jail! And to the audience for applauding!

Inception is winning so many awards that I now suspect that someone planted an idea in the minds of the voters.

A win for Social Network (film editing). Everyone on Facebook, start walking up to the stage.

Makes sense that best song came from Toy Story and not the guy cutting off his arm in 127 Hours.

It’s getting late. I might just look up the rest of the Oscar winners on Wikileaks.

As I feared, now that we are getting to bigger awards like Director, Inception’s run is ending and King’s Speech won. When they planted ideas in the minds of voters, those behind Inception should have taken it to another couple of levels.

Idea for shortening the Oscars: Only allow winners to make acceptance speeches which they can fit on their hands. (I can’t believe I’m taking an idea from Sarah Palin).

Natalie Portman’s dress is fine, but I wish she accepted the award wearing this:
http://liberalvaluesblog.com/2006/10/09/is-audrey-hepburn-campaigning-for-john-kerry/

Is Michelle Bachman going to put out a rebuttal to the Oscars later tonight?

Colin Firth wins as best actor. I wonder if he is still interested in playing a villain on Doctor Who. (He really did say he wants to do this–I hope Steven Moffat was listening).

On Facebook: Oh well, The Social Network didn’t win. We can all go home–no awards for us.

Biggest disappointment of the evening: Didn’t get to see Anne Hathaway in a Catwoman outfit. With all the clothing changes she had did during the night, she could have thrown it in.

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SciFi Weekend: Fringe and the Alternate Universe; Charlie’s Angels and Other Casting News; More Matrix Sequels Theatened; The Science of Battlestar Galactica; And Kids With Daleks

I was ambivalent about Fringe during the first season when there were primarily stand-alone stories, but have grown to love the show as it got more into its mythology and a continuing story line. Friday’s episode brought about one major change as we saw in Reciprocity that Peter’s connection to the Doomsday Machine has also changed Peter. Finding that Peter was the one killing the shape shifters was a surprise. It was also amusing to see the effects of Walter injecting the chimpanzee DNA and I was happy to see some movement on Peter’s relationship with Olivia.Dumping a boyfriend because he had sex with your identical counterpart from an alternative universe is the lamest reason since Rachel dumping Ross for messing around when they were on a break.

While an excellent episode, I do miss the alternative universe. We’ve been promised that the show will return there, and there was some more news on this last week. John Noble has hinted about his roles:

In a recent conference call, the actor told reporters that the brain-damaged scientist will begin to “put his life back together”.

“He finally comes to face up to his limitations, but also his strength,” said Noble. “[That is] more than enough to deal with the problems. It’s a wonderful journey for Walter this season and he gets to go through all the stages.”

Noble also promised that viewers will begin to see a more human side to Walter’s doppelganger, the sinister Walternate.

“You will learn more of what made Walternate what he is, and you will see some humanisation of the man behind that steel exterior,” he explained. “He has to make some difficult decisions. We’ve done some terrific things that don’t soften him, but help to understand that he is man, not a machine.”

He added: “I hope that there is a resolution between Walter and Walternate, because I don’t see either of them as bad men.”

I am especially looking forward to the February 25 episode which goes back to Peter’s abduction:

“Peter,” the season two episode that brilliantly chronicled how Walter Bishop accidentally abducted the alternate universe’s Peter, was such a fan favorite that producers are headed back to 1985 in an upcoming episode of “Fringe.”

Slated to air February 25, the installment will serve as a companion piece to “Peter,” according to star Jasika Nicole. “It’s going to pick up right where ‘Peter’ left off and it’s better than the first one,” she told PopWrap.

But unlike the season two edition, “this flashback is going to take place in the alternate universe as well as this universe. That’s why it’s so good, you’ll see the repercussions stealing Peter has for Walter and Walternate,” she adds.

A huge part of the fallout will involve Elizabeth Bishop. “As we’ve seen, Walternate is still with his wife and there’s a reason for that. You see all these consequences that happened as a result of that [abduction] and what that means for his relationship with Elizabeth. It’s a really heartbreaking story.”

The biggest Fringe news is that Leonard Nimoy has tweeted that he might be returning as William Bell. The actual tweet states, “Plans developing for a William Bell return to Fringe. Stay Tuned. LLAP.” As long as Nimoy is willing to return, it is hard to believe that the producers of Fringe will not take advantage of this.

I wasn’t paying any attention to the prospect of an other remake of Charlie’s Angels until Minka Kelly of Friday Night Lights was cast in the movie last week.(Kelly also has a recurring role in Parenthood this season and played Autumn in 500 Days of Summer).

ABC’s Charlie’s Angels has its trio female leads: Former Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly’s will play a former Marine and weapons expert and Transformers star Rachael Taylor will play a con artist.

The duo have been near-deals for the roles this week and are now official on the Sony Pictures TV project. Kelly and Taylor join the previously cast General Hospital star Annie Ilonzeh.

Friday Night Lights is down to only two more episodes. I won’t give any details as many are waiting until it airs on NBC this spring, but I think this was the best of the shorter, and lower-budget, seasons done jointly with Direct TV.

In other casting news, Henry Cavill of The Tudors will play Superman.

Colin Firth says he’d like to play a bad guy on Doctor Who or Torchwood, especially Doctor Who.

Keanu Reeves has created a stir in the blogosphere by stating two more sequels to The Matrix are in the works. Perhaps we could start a fund to pay them not to do this.  I’m not sure where they would go after the two terrible sequels to a great movie. Would it be feasible to just pretend the two sequels don’t exist and remake a good pair to replace them?

Luke Pasqualino will play William Odama on the upcoming Battlestar Galactica prequel, Blood and Chrome. IO9 has a larger version of the above map of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.

Not only is this map a thing of great beauty, but it’s totally official — Grazier was science advisor for Battlestar Galactica from the very beginning, and helped to define a lot of the show’s concepts. And Espenson, as the original showrunner for the prequel series Caprica, had to do a lot of thinking about exactly how the Twelve Colonies were laid out. This info comes straight from the creators — and from the showrunner’s bible for BSG and Caprica. And Grazier, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, verifies that the info in this map is “scientifically plausible.” It was created by Hollywood graphic designer Geoffrey Mandel, who made countless adjustments as the technical data underwent scrutiny…

We asked Espenson and Grazier some questions about the map, and they ended up telling us a lot more about the science and backstory of Battlestar Galactica:

I didn’t realize there were four different stars in the Cyrannus star system. I had always wondered if there were just 12 habitable planets clustered around a single sun. Where did the idea of four different stars come from? Was this in the show bible someplace? I’m especially curious about Leonis, the “heart of the colonies,” which I don’t think we ever heard about. Also, Scorpion, the “playground of the colonies.” Is that the colonial version of Risa?

Jane: Even back before Caprica the show existed, I believe Kevin and I had talked a bit about the configuration of the colonies. All the work on that is his. I instinctively loved the idea of a star cluster. The idea of 12 habitable planets all orbiting one star just seemed unworkable. And crowded. This group of stars makes so much sense. Kevin was at work on the configuration of stars and planets long before we shot a single frame.

More on the “science” of Battlestar Galactica in the full post.

One of the Fantastic Four has died. This link reveals which one.

David Frye has died age 77. He was best known for his impersonations of Richard Nixon.

Personally I think that Daleks are far too dangerous for human children to use as toys. Exterminate!

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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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