SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Jessica Jones; Fargo; Extant Canceled & Minority Report Unlikely To Survive; Blindspot; Limitless; Casual; The Flash; Arrow; Continuum

Doctor Who Before-the-Flood-3

The conclusion to last week’s episode of Doctor Who, Before the Flood, got more timey wimey. Under the Lake, possibly not trusting the audience to realize they were seeing a paradox, began with the Doctor speaking directly to the audience about the Bootstrap Paradox (named after the paradox in Robert A. Heinlein’s classic story By His Bootstraps). The doctor told what he called a fake story about a time traveler who loved the work of Ludwig van Beethoven. He went back in time to meet Beethoven, and even took all his sheet music for Beethoven to autograph. The time traveler found that Beethoven did not exist, so he had the sheet music he brought published under Beethoven’s name. History went on as he remembered it, but who actually composed all the music in the first place?

The Doctor also had to find a way to break the rules of time in this episode–which he wold only do for Clara. When he first found out that he was to become a ghost in the time  period where the story began, he assumed that this was part of history, a fixed point in time, and could not be changed. Clara urged the Doctor to try and he did find a way. He created a hologram, so that Clara saw what she told the Doctor she saw, but it was not actually a ghost. He then set up a prerecorded message claiming to be the order of the deaths, motivating the Doctor to take action to prevent Clara’s death (but not O’Donnell’s). There was also a second message, “The chamber will open tonight.” The Doctor then came out of the suspended animation chamber in  the future, like his companions and the Pandorica. The messages given by the hologram gave the Doctor the information he needed, but where did the idea for those messages come from in the first place? Maybe the same place as those messages in Blink.

Best line from the show: “You might find you’ve lost a couple other memories too. Like people you went to school with, or previous addresses, or how to drink liquids…”

The early reviews of Jessica Jones have been excellent. The show includes superpowers,  hot sex scenes, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first lesbian character. There have now been a few teasers such as above, without Krysten Ritter’s face actually being shown. This makes me wonder if these scenes are not from the show, and possibly filmed with a body double. Jessica Jones premiers on Neflix on  November 20.

Fargo returns on Monday and sounds quite promising. Reviews herehere, here, here, and here.

Manhattan is also starting its second season soon. This show deserves a far bigger audience than it has received. I highly recommend binging on the first season and then watching the second.

CBS has finally canceled Extant, and plans another project with Halle Berry. They should have made this decision at least a year ago.

I held off on watching Minority Report after the first couple of episodes were not received well. Fox has now cut back the order from thirteen to ten episodes, which looks like a poor sign for the show to continue.

AMC has renewed Halt and Catch Fire for a third season. While it has low ratings, I’ve heard that AMC likes the demographics of the viewers. Plus AMC directly owns the show and hopes to make money off of streaming rights in the future.

Blindspot

Blindspot is the first new drama of the season to receive a full season pickup. It is well deserved, so far being my favorite new network drama of the season. Another new drama I’ve watched has been Limitless. I see Blindspot and Limitless as having a lot in common, with Blindspot the better of the two and Limitless as being a lighter version.

Both shows feature protagonists with powers (fighting ability plus her clues in Blindspot, and abilities from the pill in Limitless) who are working with the FBI. The first few episodes of each centered around them gaining trust and getting involved in cases rather than remaining behind in an office. Both have some type of mysterious  background stories.

I was surprised to see how quickly Blindspot revealed that Jane Doe is Weller’s missing childhood neighbor Taylor Shaw, but that really does not answer any of the mysteries. (Does star Jaimie Alexander’s Asgardian roots explain anything about her character?) I was also surprised to see the bearded guy get killed so soon. Actors on this show have even less job security than those on Games of Thrones.

When Brian’s new “boss” introduced himself on Limitless, I wondered if this was a way to continue the story without Bradley Cooper, but reportedly he will return in future episodes.

Sleepy Hollow also follows this pattern to some degree with Abbie now being in the FBI and, while not having unusual abilities, Ichibad does have an unusual background in other days. This season feels like an attempt to reboot the series, but so far has not captured the unique entertainment of the first season. It does look promising enough to watch longer.

Other worthwhile shows of the new season include Supergirl, based upon the pilot previously released on line, and Casual. While totally non-genre, Casual (on Hulu) is an excellent family dramedy. The first two episodes were very entertaining, and reviews have been great from those who saw the series at the Toronto Film Festival.

Above are trailers for this season of The Flash and Arrow from New York Comic-Con. Note that characters who have apparently died are present, in preparation for them joining together on Legends of Tomorrow.

The penultimate episode of Continuum has aired in the United States and the series finale aired on Showcase in Canada. The Desperate Hours was mostly all action, including another heroic death, setting up the finale which is obviously named Final Hour. It seems rather pointless now to discuss the questions I have had during the season and after The Desperate Hours considering that they were answered in Final Hour. I will wait to discuss Final Hour to avoid spoiling those who wait for the US presentation of the show.

SciFi Weekend: Torchwood’s Immortal Sins; Doctor Who, Let’s Kill Hitler; The Doctor and Other Time Travelers Win Hugo Awards, The Hour (A Great Show To Watch While Waiting For Mad Men To Return)

This week’s episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, Immortal Sins,  is more Jack-centric, showing how his back story plays into the events of the Miracle, and presumably why there was a signal for Torchwood on the day that the Miracle began. The series has seemed to take a long time to move towards a conclusion at times, but I suspect that the pace will pick up in the final three episodes now that we have a better idea of where it is headed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d–_kOhavH4&feature=player_embedded

The episode even has two references to the Doctor in the scenes above. Those who complained to the BBC about the explicit gay sex won’t like this episode either. My only complaint is that there wasn’t a matching sex scene with a female as occurred earlier this season. Captain Jack gets the best line of the episode: “Forgive me father for I have sinned… so many times… and that’s just today!”

Season six of Doctor Who resumes next week. Above is a preview of the episode from BBC America. Karen Gillan also introduces Let’s Kill Hitler plus two clips from Doctor Who Confidential have also been released:

The Daily Mirror,  which is not the most reliable of sources, claims that Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman and Catherine Tate will all return in the episode. Consider how the Doctor left both Billie Piper (Rose) and Catherine Tate (Donna), this would seem difficult. Perhaps he meets them before his final encounters with them, or perhaps the actresses are there but they aren’t what they seem.

Doctor Who Lets Kill Hitler Amy Pond River Song

A prequel scene to Let’s Kill Hitler was released last week. The scene is posted here.

While nothing has been officially confirmed, based upon interviews with both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill it appears like Amy and Rory will leave as regular companions at the end of the season, most likely to raise their newly-rescued baby, and a new companion will be introduced. Both have also said they will be returning in the future, and it is assumed they mean as recurring characters similar to how River Song has appeared intermittently.

Doctor Who Big Bang Pandorica Opens

Doctor Who, as well as other time-travel stories, did well in this year’s Hugo Award ceremony at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno last night. Black Out/All Clear, a pair of novels dealing with time travel to England during World War II by Connie Willis, won best novel.

The season five  Doctor Who two-part story, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang, won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Two other episodes of Doctor Who, A Christmas Carol and Vincent and the Doctor, were also nominated this year.

The winning episodes were written by Steven Moffat, who previously won the Hugo Award for these episodes of  Doctor Who:   Blink in 2008, The Girl In The Fireplace in 2007 and The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances in 2006. An episode by Russel T. Davies, The Waters of Mars won in 2010 when there were only specials and no regular episodes written by Moffat.

Doctor Who was also responsible for a non-fiction award. Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea, won for Best Related Work.

Inception won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. My interpretation of the movie was previously posted here.

Here’s something to watch if you can’t wait until next year for Mad Men to return. The Hour premiered on BBC America last week–trailer above.  The DVD set of the series will be released in September. After watching the first episode I quickly obtained episodes two through five, in preparation for the sixth and final episode of the season which airs Tuesday in the U.K.

There are several new shows which are trying to capitalize on the nostalgia value of Mad Men (but most ignore the fact that it is quality which made Mad Men a success). Both have a feeling of a previous era but one which is not all that different from today.  The creative type people on a news show in The Hour versus those in advertising on Mad Men, along with the drinking and smoking scenes, give the shows a similar feel. The third episode also reminded me of scenes from Brideshead Revisited.

American network shows trying to capitalize on the Mad Men feel such as Pan Am and one on the Playboy Club are also starting this fall, but I doubt they will show the same quality as either Mad Men or The Hour.

They are also very different shows too. Beyond its late 1950’s backdrop on a television news show, The Hour gets involved with a murder mystery and Cold War espionage. In some ways the show feels like a combination of the two AMC series, Mad Men and Rubicon. Being six hours has allowed it to develop the season-long arc without stretching it out too long. It is also reminiscent of Mad Men, which previously took place at the time of the  Cuban Missile Crisis, by dealing with the Suez crisis and Soviet invasion of Hungary.

The Hour has a superb cast. Best known to American audiences is Dominic West from The Wire. Romola Garai (pictured above) and Ben Whishaw are also excellent in their lead roles. Burn Gorman, who previously played Owen Harper on Torchwood, has a significant role. Now I can’t wait for Mad Men to return, and I know that once the series conclude its U.K. run on Tuesday I will be anxiously awaiting a second season of The Hour.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut; Elisabeth Sladen; More Doctor Who News; Surviving Judgment Day; A New Roommate For Sheldon Cooper

Unless you were locked up in the Pandorica, you should know about the two big stories of the week: the season premiere of Doctor Who and the death of Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith). A video on Sladen’s career is posted above. My initial post on Elisabeth Sladen, which includes some major scenes from her career and tributes, was posted here. This week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut, began with a message in memory of Elisabeth Sladen on the BBC broadcast. A memorial show was broadcast afterward on CBBC. The full video of My Sarah Jane A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen is posted here. David Tennant had this to say about Elisabeth Sladen on BBC Breakfast:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkKUcf_HvKM&feature=related

More of the interview with David Tennant can be seen here. Tom Baker has a tribute on his web site.

Those who need a refresher coarse on forty-seven years and eleven Doctors before beginning this season can check out this video which recaps it all in just six minutes:

Both NPR’s Morning Edition and The New York Times had stories about how this season is starting on the same day in the United Kingdom, The United States, and Canada (and soon after in Australia) to reduce pirating of the show. When there was a several month delay, there would typically be 200,000 illegal downloads the week an episode aired. The article reports that BBC America will not air a new episode on Memorial Day weekend, and then be a week behind for the remaining June episodes.  That will get many US fans to resume downloading on the day it first airs.Even the several hour delay between airings will make downloading irresistible. I had a high definition copy hours before I could have watched a standard definition version on cable, but if I ever get a Nielsen box I promise to turn on BBC America when Doctor Who is on.

The Impossible Astronaut began both what is probably a season-long arc and a two-part story with events of a magnitude which is more characteristic of a season finale. Now that there is no longer a gap before the U.S. version airs, posts here on completed episodes will no longer avoid spoilers.

The episode began with a few minutes of fez hats and other fun before bringing Amy, Rory, and River Song to a meeting with the Doctor (now wearing a stetson) in Utah. While breaking out of prison was no surprise, I’m not certain as to how River Song managed to get to Utah in 2011, but she always has been a resourceful person. Soon afterward the Doctor was killed, and then shot again during the regeneration cycle by someone in an astronaut outfit, leading to the Doctor’s actual death. This left the three with no choice but to burn the Doctor’s body as it goes out into the lake.

Doctor Who Regenerates The Impossible Astronaut

Obviously we knew that the Doctor could not really be dead, and figured that it was all part of some sort of plan, considering that the Doctor clearly knew what was going to happen and told the other three not to interfere. He even arranged for gasoline to be delivered for his funeral pyre. This was delivered by ex-FBI agent Canton Delaware, played by the father of Mark Sheppard who played the ex-agent in the 1969 portion of the story.

Moffat used some of his “timey-wimey” stuff to continue the story with a younger version of the Doctor, which was anticipated after a point was made of the Doctor’s age when he first met up with his three companions. Theoretically the story could continue after establishing that the Doctor would die when two hundred years older, but this would mean no further regenerations and that Matt Smith would be the last actor to play the Doctor. It is more likely that they will resolve this by preventing the Doctor from actually dying, and this was confirmed in an interview with Matt  Smith.

While we generally know when watching a show that the main character will not be killed, Doctor Who has always appeared to place the main character in less danger  due to his ability to regenerate. This episode shows that the Doctor can be killed, and that the character can feel he is at risk when taking actions which might endanger his life.

Knowing this detail of the Doctor’s future changes the dynamics as this time it is the companions who knew more, leaving the Doctor feeling very uncomfortable. He finally agreed to trust his friends and do what they say when Amy swore on something very important to her, “fish fingers and custard.”

They traveled back to 1969, with the TARDIS materializing in Richard Nixon’s oval office. I had expected that they would make use of a pre-existing set, but Doctor Who Confidential showed the crew actually building their version of the oval office. The Doctor wound up getting involved with the mystery of a young girl calling Richard Nixon every night, regardless of where he was. A new villain, which Amy first got a glimpse of  in Utah, was present–The Silence. With the Weeping Angels, Steven Moffat created a threat which would kill you if you blink and stop looking at them. The Silence is even harder to fight as the moment you look away you forget that you even saw them. They were presumably behind the destruction of the universe last season, and Doctor Who fans are reporting evidence of their appearance in several previous episodes.

The Silence told Amy that she must tell the Doctor something, which probably explains why she suddenly told him that she is pregnant at what was not a very convenient time. Presumably their instructions, while forgotten the moment Amy looked away, remained somewhere in her mind. The episode ended with a cliff hanger in which we found that the little girl who had been calling Richard Nixon was in an astronaut suit. Amy, assuming this is the same person who had killed the Doctor, shot the girl.

The cliff hanger left a lot to speculate about. Was the little girl in 1969 the same person in the astronaut suit who killed the Doctor in 2011? Could the girl be Amy’s daughter? Perhaps it was River Song who was in the astronaut suit and killed the Doctor. We were reminded of River’s story (presumably to allow new viewers to catch up) and the Doctor even asked her who she killed.  (“No spoilers.”)  In Flesh and Stone River said she had killed “the best man I’ve ever known.” She also foreshadowed her own “death,” at a time when the Doctor would no longer know her, in Forrest of the Dead. Perhaps River is even Amy’s daughter. Someone known as Pond just might name a daughter after another type of body of water. Hopefully we will get some answers next week in Day of the Moon:

Karen Gillan does say there will be a lot of revelations in an interview in the Scotsman.com:

“There are going to be a lot of revelations,” she suggests tantalisingly. “There’s one huge one that will change everything. Steven Moffat went around everybody and only told them the bits they needed to know, and we’re not allowed to discuss it with each other, which is really relevant for the whole story.”

Karen Gillan Amy Pond Doctor Who

In an interview with The Telegraph, Karen Gillan said she wanted to be like Robin Williams, or perhaps Birttany Murphy.  Karen Gillan’s interview with Craig Ferguson aired on Friday–a video is posted here.

In other Doctor Who news, Meredith Vieira and The Today Show will be traveling to the set of Doctor Who in May. Vieira will have a cameo role on the show.

Doctor Who has been nominated for three Hugo Awards, including two stories written by Steven Moffat, A Christmas Carol and The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang. A third episode of Doctor Who, Vincent and the Doctor written by Richard Curtis also received a nomination. In addition, a nomination went to a book entitled Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea.

Steven Moffat is vague in talking about Neil Gaiman’s script, but does tell us he is giving the Daleks a year off:

The TV boss and lead writer has opted to give the aliens a rest in 2011.

He wants to give them another make-over and bring them back with a bang next year.

Diehard fans hated the multi-coloured fat Daleks from the last series and dubbed them Dipsy, Tinky Winky, Laa-Laa and Po after children’s favourites the Teletubbies.

Moffat said: “We will bring back the Daleks.

“But there will be lots of different kinds.

“I want them to come back in a really brilliant way.

I started the post by noting there were two important events this week. Fortunately we escaped a third. According to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, April 21, 2011 was Judgment Day, when the machines rose up to destroy most of humanity. We might have already been on borrowed time as the original Terminator movie set Judgment Day on August 4, 1997.

And, finally, there is news that Sheldon Cooper is getting a new roommate on Big Bang Theory. It will be someone we already know:

As teased in the new issue of EW, everyone favorite creature of habit is parting ways with his longtime roomie, Leonard.

“You have a situation where Priya is staying with her brother, and Leonard is spending time with Pryia,” executive producer Billy Prady says. “The current sleeping arrangement isn’t the best one. I think a little experimentation with people in different spots [is necessary].”

But who is the (un?)lucky soul to take Leonard’s spot in the apartment? Prady wouldn’t say, specifically, but guarantees, “It will be a human, and it will be someone we know.” Prady elaborates: “One of the things that Sheldon will [learn from] his new roommate — temporary or permanent, we don’t know — is just how long Leonard has been skating by. He’s going to have a terrific experience with this new roommate.”

The author speculates that it will be Amy Farrah Fowler. That is a definite possibility, but the two are so much alike. There could be far more conflict if Penny moves in with Sheldon to save money. There is already a bizarre chemistry between the two.

SciFi Weekend: Cliff Hangers, Old and New

Locutus of Borg Jon Luc Picarddde

iO9 has compiled a list of the top science fiction cliff hangers on television. I don’t think there will be much controversy over choosing Best of Both Worlds Part 1 (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as the best of all time. Discussion of how the  Borg could be defeated, how Jon Luc Picard would be saved after being turned into a Borg, and whether Ryker would really fire on Picard dominated the CompuServe forums over the summer in those days before the internet replaced it. The hype from this episode also was responsible for turning what had been a so-so remake into a major science fiction series.

A recent episode of Doctor Who, The Pandorica Opens made the list. While some object to the manner in which the Doctor got out of the Pandorica, what bigger cliff hanger can you have than the end of the universe?

There were other memorable cliff hangers listed. This included Zha’dum (Babylon 5) when Sheridan obeyed Kosh’s voice telling him to jump, Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2 (Battlestar Galactica) which jumped the series ahead a year when unprepared humans living on New Caprica were conquered by Cylons, and The Incident (Lost) in which Julia detonated the bomb in hopes of changing history.

There are some cliff hangers from last season I’m looking forward to seeing the conclusion of. The mid-season cliff hanger episode of Caprica contained several cliff-hangers. Last season’s cliff hanger from Fringe made the list. And, while not science fiction, I’m sure curious to find out how Jeff responds to both Britta and Professor Slater declaring his love for him followed by the ending with Jeff kissing Annie on Community. Personally I’d like to see him date Annie while Britta goes crazy with jealousy. Besides, I’d much rather see Alison Brie with Jeff on Community than as Pete Campbell’s wife Trudy on Mad Men.

Dexter also ended with a significant cliff hanger last season. Blogcritics reviews the first few episodes of the upcoming season, including this bit of news:

According to executive producer, Sara Colleton, this will be the year to “take a break from having a one season-long adversary. So as Dexter’s grief goes through different stages, different characters will play their part and yet eventually, these characters interlock to form a a worthy adversary for Dexter.”

In the final scene of the third episode, there is a stunning moment: a twist so totally unexpected, you’ll curse the fact you’ll have to wait a week to see what happens next.

Disney Fantasmic Mickey Mouse

We’ve seen many characters reimagined, including Superman, Batman, and Iron-Man. Next we will get Epic Mickey, coming in a game  for the Nintendo Wii:

Disney has hinted that Epic Mickey is kind of a reboot for the beloved character – one that takes him from cute and cuddly cartoon icon to brave and embattled warrior. The questions now are manifold: Will Disney turn off potential gamers who prefer the Mickey of old? Will the game be dark and intriguing enough to appeal to “core” gaming audiences? And, perhaps most importantly, given flagging interest in the mouse, does Disney have a choice?

That’s nothing all that radical–just go to Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On a related note, there are rumors that Jon Hamm will star in the next reboot of Superman.

Cliff hangers sometimes lead to the death of characters. In case that happens Eternal Image sells urns fit for a true Star Trek fan. It comes in two models– one says “To Boldly Go” and the other that says “The Voyage Continues.”

SciFi Weekend: The Big Bang–Doctor Who Reboots The Entire Universe

Amy in the Pandorica, Doctor Who: The Big Bang

It feels like we have learned all the secrets of the universe in the last year or so. We know all about the Cylon final five. We saw how the scenario from the Epitaph One episode of Dollhouse played out in Epitaph Two. We know why the passengers of Oceanic 815 were brought to the island and what the sideways stories meant. We know a little more about FlashForward is about, but might never get a full explanation unless someone else picks up the show. Now we know who was in the Pandorica, and how The Doctor got out. This contains major spoilers in case anyone who plans to has not done so yet.

Like The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang began with a spectacular introductory segment. The Pandorica was opened in modern times (in an alternative time line where the stars had gone out) but we were surprised to find Amy Pond, and not the Doctor inside. Amy was released by a younger version of herself from the time line without stars (although Amy believed in them as she believed in the Doctor in the original time line). Then things really got complicated.

The Doctor had long ago been released from The Pandorica by Rory and placed a dying Amy inside to help her recover. The manner in which the Doctor escaped is rather controversial, even without consideration of whether or not fez hats are cool. The Doctor simply went back in time to ask Rory to let him out. Since Rory had let him out, he was free in the future to go back in time to ask Rory to let him out. Fortunately for the Doctor the universe has been greatly condensed, allowing the Vortex Manipulator to work much better than in the full universe.

Sure, this is cheating. Time travel stories often cheat. The question is whether the viewer comes out feeling cheated or intrigued by such solutions. When Steven Moffat used a similar device in Blink there were no complaints. A big difference here is that we didn’t know until late in Blink that the timey wimey stuf was a device being used by The Doctor to get out of a predicament. It is a different matter when the season-ending two parter uses a cliff hanger with the Doctor being locked in an inescapable prison and then uses such a trick to get out so easily.

Moffat handled selling this to the audience in a different way than in Blink. A series of quick and amusing moves through time, along with the fez hat, made the sequence so much fun that it is easy to allow Moffat to get away with this. The problem remains that repeated use of such plot devices means that the Doctor is never really in danger as a future version can always come to save him. Making matters worse, that sonic screwdriver is turning into a magic wand which can do almost everything. It might become necessary to retire the sonic screwdriver, similar to how it became necessary to remove K-9 from the original series after he became too powerful.

Escaping from The Pandorica was a trivial manner compared to the real dilemma. The universe was coming to and end. Fortunately, due to proximity to the crack throughout her life, Amy’s subconscious was filled with all the information about the universe, allowing the universe to be recreated after the Tardis created a second big bang. Sure it is hard to believe, but is this really any worse than having the Tardis tow the earth through like in a Russel T. Davies season finale?

Along the way we saw the Doctor’s life be rewound. This included returning to the events of Flesh and Stone, showing that the scene with the Doctor dressed differently was intentional as opposed to a continuity error. Actually Moffat has largely saved himself from being accused of any continuity errors with previous shows by rebooting the entire universe in this manner. If Amy could bring back Rory and her parents in the new universe, other changes could also be present. I am assuming here that the Rory who Amy married is a recreation of the human Rory and not the plastic one.

Amy and Rory Pond Wedding

Amy ultimately was able to bring back the Doctor as the Tardis turned out to be something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue at her wedding. Despite all the implausible aspects of the episode I have accepted, I cannot resist one nitpick on the wedding scene. If, in this recreated universe, Amy had no memory of the Doctor, she wouldn’t have spent her life speaking of what others thought was her imaginary friend. Therefore when she first mentioned wanting him at the wedding, others would not have responded by questioning Amy bringing him up again as presumably she had no reason to do so yet in this time line.

Many questions remain. River Song remains as big a mystery as she was going into the season, with warnings that the relationship between her and the Doctor might change for the worse in their next meeting. Could this be because she kills the Doctor (or gives the appearance of doing so), leading to her imprisonment? We don’t know who was behind the events of the season finale, including the explosion of the Tardis, the destruction of all the stars, and the warning that “silence will fall.” I suspect that the story of who was behind all of this, along with River Song’s story, is being continued into next season.

Amy Pond Rory Wedding Doctor Who The Big Bang

One change from the episode which definitely will carry into the Christmas special and next season is that for the first time ever the Doctor will have a married couple as his companions. The BBC has posted this wedding album, with some examples on this page. The Christmas special is rumored to include their honeymoon, monsters, and a new take on A Christmas Carol, and guest stars including Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) and Katherine Jenkins. Steven Moffat had these comments on the special:

Oh, we’re going for broke with this one. It’s all your favorite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters. And the Doctor. And a honeymoon. And … oh, you’ll see. I’ve honestly never been so excited about writing anything. I was laughing madly as I typed along to Christmas songs in April. My neighbors loved it so much they all moved away and set up a website demanding my execution. But I’m fairly sure they did it ironically!”

Between the other news which got squeezed out from Doctor Who dominating SciFi Weekend and all the reports out of San Diego Comic-Con, I will post more science fiction news without waiting for next weekend’s installment. This includes updates on the upcoming season of Torchwood.

SciFi Weekend: The Pandorica Opens (Or As Amy Pond Would Call It, The Invasion Of The Hot Italians); Torchwood Casting News; Changes for Mad Men

The Pandorica has opened and the big surprise was that nothing was inside. Instead it was a prison designed to hold the Doctor. In recent years Doctor Who has ended with big episodes. Steven Moffat is ending the season by bringing together many of the Doctors enemies, including Daleks and Cybermen. Instead of them acting with evil intent, they believe they are acting to protect the universe by locking up the Doctor, who they think is behind the cracks in the universe.

The episode started out with scenes involving many of the characters from previous episodes as a message for the Doctor is ultimately rerouted by the Tardis to the prison where River Song is being held. A message is sent about a  vision from Van Gough demonstrated by a  painting showing the Tardis exploding. This was hidden away until found by British forces during World War II and taken to  Winston Churchill, who naturally tried to make a phone call to the Doctor.

A lot happened once the Doctor and River got back together. They traveled back to 102  AD, which Amy Pond described as the invasion of hot Italians–when ancient Romans invaded England. Later in the episode River returned to the present and found that the Romans were actually recreations from a book in Amy’s bedroom. This was all a trap created from images in Amy’s mind. The images included Rory,who was also revived as a Roman. Unfortunately the Romans turned into Autons and the episode ended with Rory appearing to kill Amy. Besides this fate for Amy, and the Doctor being locked in the Pandorica, River was aboard the exploding Tardis, as all the stars in the sky were going out and the universe was coming to an end.

I don’t want to say too much about the episode and risk spoiling the conclusion (which already aired a month earlier on BBC America). There’s plenty of time to talk about fez hats next week. I can’t resist one nitpick. If  the Doctor went back to 102 AD,  wouldn’t Stonehenge have looked different back then?

There’s also one key lesson from the Doctor to keep in mind: Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And if something can be remembered, it can come back.”

Next week: The Big Bang. I’ve also been holding back information on the Christmas Special as this would spoil the conclusion of The Big Bang.

Ausiello has some information on the new characters being added to Torchwood:

Among the casting intel I’ve gathered on the new season (airing on my new favorite cable network, Starz), the show is out to cast a new series regular — Rex Matheson, a wickedly funny (operative word: wicked) CIA agent born to make waves. Almost as key to the new season are recurring characters Esther Katusi, a CIA grunt in her early 20s who learns what she’s really made of only when she’s forced to, and Oswald Jones, a convicted murderer and pedophile who will be as shocked as anyone to learn how easily infamy and fame can be exchanged for one another.

There’s similar information from TV Guide:

And Starz’s new season of Torchwood is shaping up with the search for one series regular and two supporting roles. Rex Matheson is a white, twenty-something CIA agent who sounds sort of like FX’s animated Archer spy: a fearless, cocky thrill seeker. Recurring characters include Esther Katusi, a newbie Watch Analyst in the CIA who is deeply (and secretly) in love with Rex. And Oswald Jones is the dangerous psychotic villain. He’s a forty-something murderer and pedophile who gets sprung from the slammer into the spotlight. Rex — catch this sicko!

Mad Men is returning with major changes which were set up last season. Don Draper has lost Betty. Will this lead to better stories of Don Draper chasing women, or is an important element of the story lost when he is no longer cheating? There’s also a new start up firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

I hope they pull it off. Sometimes losing some of the stable anchors for a show hurts. Dallas was never the same when J. R. Ewing lost both Sue Ellen and Ewing Oil was broken up. On the other hand, Thirtysomething did fine after the Michael and Elliot company folded. This ultimately led to bringing in Miles Drentell, which was a big plus for the series. Of course Michael still was with Hope.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, and The Pandorica Opens

On BBC America Doctor Who completed a two part story, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood, while the BBC began the season ending two part story with The Pandorica Opens. As usual this review will have major spoilers for the episodes which aired in the United States while saying far less about episodes which have only aired on the BBC.

The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood were excellent stories which also left room open for a sequel taking place one thousand years in the future as well as advancing the season’s arc. The Doctor might have an overly optimistic view of humanity in thinking that a legend of the Silurians returning to share the earth in a thousand years will lead to acquiesce as opposed to a preemptive strike (assuming it isn’t one of those periods in which humans are living in arcs off the planet). Some humans just might not accept any deals the Silurians report which were made with a red head in a short skirt negotiating on behalf of humans.

The shocker at the end is that Rory not only was killed but was taken by the crack in time. Anyone think that the dead Rory might have looked a little plastic? Rory’s body didn’t just fall into the crack but tentacles grabbed him and pulled his body in. As we haven’t seen others fall into the crack we do not know if the other people were taken in such a manner or if something was specifically seeking Rory due to his relationship to Amy and the Doctor. Another question raised is how the Doctor managed to stick his arm through the crack without being pulled in. This might become clearer in the season finale when we will hopefully have a better idea of the purpose of the crack.

The first part began with Amy seeing older versions of herself and Rory in the future waving to them from a distance. The reason for this scene became clear at the end. When Rory went through the crack he was erased from time, although it is not clear why Amy could remember the soldiers who fell through the crack in Flesh and Stone but could not remember her fiance. Hypothetically this could set up a dramatic scene should Rory somehow reappear.

The episode ended with Amy seeing an older version of just herself waving off in the distance, although for a moment she thought she had seen someone else. There is also a bit of debris with a portion of the Tardis, as if it had exploded at some point in time.

The Davies season finales were often over the top, and often the set up episode was far better than the conclusion. The Pandorica Opens is Steven Moffat’s first shot at ending a season. The first part was excellent–as big as the Davies finales while feeling more plausible.  I’ll avoid spoiling the details except to note that many characters who appeared in previous episodes return to tie up the season, and Amy gets to meet Italian men. I do have some questions and nit picks but I can also imagine ways in which they will be resolved in the finale.

Next week: The Big Bang on the BBC while BBC America viewers meet Vincent Van Gogh. My spoiler-free comments on Vincent and the Doctor were posted here.

SciFi Weekend: Amy’s Choice And Completing Doctor Who’s Season Long Arc

With the finales completed on network television, which dominated recent posts in SciFi Weekend, this is a good time to return to the discussion of Doctor Who. Reviewing the series is even more complicated now that  BBC America has fallen three weeks behind the BBC airings of the show due to skipping Memorial Day weekend in the United States. As usual my comments may include major spoilers on the last episode to air in the United States (in this case Amy’s Choice). I will avoid major spoilers as to events which have not aired yet in the United States but make more general comments on what is upcoming which should not spoil the show for those watching. I will say there are really big things in store as the series long arcs has progressed. Those who want to know nothing as to what is to come might want to turn away.

Amy’s Choice continued the theme from the previous week of Amy deciding that Rory is her true love. As the season progresses Amy Pond has become one of the more significant characters in the history of Doctor Who, which is saying a lot for a show going back to 1963. This  season really is shaping up as Amy’s story, with the crack in time being one aspect of this.

When we look back on this season in the future we will obviously see it as the first year with Steven Moffat as show runner and Matt Smith as the Doctor, but more importantly it will be the story of Amy Pond. This has raised one disturbing thought that after this season’s arc is completed it might be the end of Amy’s story, but hopefully Moffat has more ideas for her for next year.

Amy’s Choice seems to involve two alternative realities. I’m sure most viewers assumed that the future story with Amy being pregnant and the characters being attacked by the Eknodine in the form of elderly humans was the dream. The story was fun, especially if viewed as a satire of many of the elements of a typical Doctor Who monster story, along with forcing Amy to decide that life without Rory was not worth living. As in any love story, complications will come in upcoming episodes which I will not spoil here (and which hopefully be resolved favorably after the Pandorica opens).

The story turned out to be far more complex as both realities were a dream caused by specks of psychic pollen which had fallen into the time rotor and got heated up. The episode ended with the Doctor revealing that the Dream Lord was the dark side of his personality, manifested by the pollen. The Dream Lord is in some ways reminiscent of the Valyard, and there are hints we will see him again.

Throughout the season we have seen references to the long television history of Doctor Who. The episode included this plaque identifying the Tardis as a Type 40 built in 1963 when the series began:

Viewers of the BBC episodes have seen three additional episodes. Following Amy’s Choice is a two-part story, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood. The two-part episode works as both a stand alone story, has important ramifications for future human history, and advances the season long arc.

This week’s episode, Vincent and the Doctor, was perhaps the finest and most important fluff episode in the history of the series. The episode  worked in  images of earlier regenerations of the Doctor while returning to one of the early plans for the series in being an educational show for children (as well as adults). While I have already seen some reviewers who hated it, I found the episode thoroughly enjoyable. This is primarily a stand alone episode but it did refer back just enough to a major event of the previous episode which I will not spoil here.

In previous episodes we have seen how bizarre the Doctor is by human standards including, but not limited to, more than one recent mention that bow ties are cool. Next week in The Lodger the Doctor faces one of his greatest challenges in renting a room and having to blend in as a normal human. The preview shows continuity with this week’s episode including a flier for a Van Gogh exhibit.

This leads to the two-part episode, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang written by Steven Moffat to conclude the season’s arc. A BBC press release for The Pandorica Opens reveals:

The Doctor’s friends unite to send him a terrible warning; the Pandorica – which is said to contain the most feared being in all the cosmos – is opening, as the time travelling drama continues. But what’s inside, and can the Doctor stop it?