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.’

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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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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Returns in The Bells of St. John; Hugo and Other Award Nominations for Doctor Who

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Doctor Who returned with The Bells of St. John, picking up with the Doctor having gone to a quiet place as advised by a young Clara Oswald as seen in a web-episode prequel. The bells turn out be from the phone on the TARDIS with Clara having received the Doctor’s number from an unidentified person, saying it was  for tech support. I wonder if this is another explained event which sometimes pop up in Moffat’s stories, or if we will find that someone significant (perhaps River Song or another version of Clara) gave it to her.

The plot, as is often the case on Doctor Who, was not terribly compelling but the character interaction more than made up for it. The danger in Moffat’s stories often comes from unexpected, or everyday items. In this case the danger struck over WiFi, so be careful of what you click on. The episode took advantage of the London background to provide a more realistic setting than usual, and a trip in the TARDIS to an out control airplane was more exciting than many of the trips to alien planets in other episodes. It is necessary to watch closely to pick up the many subtle references to other aspects of Doctor Who, such as an old book written by Amelia Williams. Others were more obvious, such as the scene with UNIT.

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While this season is primarily made up of stand-alone episodes, The Bells of St. John can be seen as part of at least two arcs: the mystery of Clara Oswald and another attempt by the Great Intelligence to fight the Doctor. We learned very little about Clara, but she did have some similarity to the Clara of The Snowmen as she once again was a governess. She also acquired considerable computer skills in this episode, perhaps foreshadowing her abilities in Asylum of the Daleks. We also saw how the Doctor comes up with money and Moffat got in a dig at Twitter.

There is no longer a Doctor Who Confidential, but the BBC did release this behind the scenes video.

Steven Moffat says we will learn who Clara is this season. More from Moffat in the text of a press conference posted here. Other major news from the past week is that David Tennant and Billie Piper will be returning for the 50th anniversary episode. John Hurt will also be appearing in the episode.

Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of next week’s episode, The Rings of Akhaten.

The week of Doctor Who‘s return was also a big week for awards and nominations, including receiving a Peabody Award: “Doctor Who,” the ever-evolving, ever-clever BBC science fiction series now entering its second half century, was awarded an Institutional Peabody.

Doctor Who was also nominated for two BAFTA Awards:

Musical composer Murray Gold was nominated in the Original Television Music category for his, as the ninth Doctor would say, ”fantastic” music score featured in the Series 7 episode, Asylum of the Daleks. This is the second time Murray Gold has been nominated for a BAFTA award.

The show was also nominated for a BAFTA in the Visual Effects and Graphic Design category. The Mill, which has recently announced it will be closing, was nominated for the wonderful Craft Visual Effects it has created in their recent episodes.

The Mill has been nominated for a BAFTA every year since 2007. They received a BAFTA in 2009 for their work in The Fires of Pompeii.

Other Doctor Who related BAFTA awards include the Editing Fiction award in 2008, The Television Drama Series in 2005, and the Craft Writer award went to Steven Moffat in 2007.

Three episodes were nominated for Hugo Awards:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (597 nominating ballots cast)

  • Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan”, Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, “Asylum of the Daleks”, Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, “The Snowmen”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)
  • Fringe, “Letters of Transit”, Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
  • Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

The Avengers were among the nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (787 nominating ballots cast)

  • The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
  • The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
  • The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
  • Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)

 

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Christmas Episodes: Doctor Who, Merlin, and Downton Abbey

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Three British cult television shows, Doctor Who, Merlin, and Downton Abbey, had special episodes for the holidays. Doctor Who: The Snowmen aired in the United States later the same day, but the fifth season of Merlin and third season of Downton Abbey have not and therefore this post will contain major spoilers. I will precede the discussion with the later two with a picture from the series to allow those who do not want to see these spoilers to turn away. I will discuss Merlin second as the spoilers will not be as shocking to those who can predict where the story is heading based upon the Arthur legends. The events of Downton Abbey would be more of a surprise. By now I wonder if there are there any Downton Abbey fans who are waiting for the US airing who have avoided hearing about the two shocking events of the regular season and Christmas episode? If so, they should either download the season now and watch it quickly or stay off the internet and stop reading newspapers and magazines until they  see the entire third season.

Doctor Who: The Snowmen contained two main story lines. The main plot of the story dealing with the Snowmen and the villain of the episode were not all that significant, unless the reference to the Great Intelligence foreshadows a future aspect of the storyline as opposed to references to a couple of old episodes from the 1960′s (which did include havoc in the London underground).  The Snowmen‘s real importance was in reintroducing Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), first seen as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks. Not surprisingly, there was some misdirection from Steven Moffat and Jenna-Louise Coleman, who did not answer questions about her role with the full truth in recent interviews.

One highlight of the episode was Clara’s first view of the inside of the TARDIS, after climbing up stairs into a cloud for a second time. Her response was a first: “It’s smaller on the outside!” Her next question was also a first, and confirmed her connection to Oswin Oswald, when she asked if there was a kitchen inside because she likes to make souffles. Clara earlier had the right word (Pond) to get the Doctor’s attention. Most likely this was thrown in for the viewers, but perhaps knowing to say this is another sign that Clara is not what she seems.

The episode, written by Steven Moffat, who also writes the modern BBC version of Sherlock, contains two homages to Sherlock Holmes. Vastra and  Jenny (with the help of Strax) solved Victorian mysteries,providing the inspiration to Arthur Conan Doyle. This lesbian detective pair were different from the detectives portrayed by Doyle: “Good evening, I am a lizard woman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife.” The Doctor also portrayed Sherlock Holmes: “Shut up! I’m making deductions! It’s very exciting!”

If there was any doubt from the souffle line that both of Coleman’s characters were connected, this was answered at the end. The souffle girl died a second time, still leaving her well behind Rory in number of deaths for a companion. Her tombstone read Clara Oswin Oswald. Her final words to the Doctor were the same in both The Snowmen and Asylum of the Daleks: “Run, you clever boy… And remember.” The Doctor showed he planned to do just this, seeming to give Clara Oswin Oswald as the destination to the TARDIS. The episode ended with a girl also played by Jenna-Louise Coleman in modern times visiting Clara’s grave. Moffat has launched another mystery with this girl who,  somewhat like Timelords, can die and yet remain alive, except in her case still look the same.

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The final season of Merlin was mixed in quality, but the final three episodes, including the two-part story Diamond of the Day, were excellent.  Merlin concluded as the Arthur stories conclude–with Mordred delivering a mortal blow to Arthur. Like Morgana, who was not shown to be evil until the third season, Mordred was not portrayed as a threat to Arthur until he was given reason to turn against Arthur in the final episodes. Diamond of the Day Part I concentrated on the final battle, which concluded early in Part II. The final episode showed the deaths of Mordred and Morgana, but primarily dealt with Merlin and Arthur in what turned out to be the final hours of Arthur’s life.

Merlin and Arthur had the conversation which would have been expected to occur long before as Merlin revealed that he is a sorcerer. Fortunately for the legend of Merlin, Gwen figured out the identity of the sorcerer who led them to victory, presumably leading to the legend of the bearded wizard who aided Arthur as opposed to stories of a young servant. Before it became clear that Merlin was to tell Arthur’s story until its conclusion, I wondered if the entire series was to be about Merlin and Arthur in their youth, taking place before the greatness of Camelot. Seeing how the series did end, I do wish that during the final season they had done more to show why Arthur was a great king, worthy of being remembered in legend. The final season, which was the only one to show Arthur as King, just didn’t show Arthur’s life to be as significant as it was foretold to be in earlier seasons.  Regardless, it was sad to see Arthur die, but we were promised that Arthur would return when needed. For now, Long Live the Queen, as Guinevere took over for Arthur. I would assume that Merlin would remain to assist her, and we saw at the end of the episode that he remains alive today.

Just Desserts

The deaths this season on Downton Abbey were more shocking than the deaths of Clara (which may not be permanent) and of Arthur (which was anticipated). This is a reminder that major spoilers are coming for those who have not seen the third season yet. The news media stories that Dan Stevens (Matthew) would not be returning for the fourth season were true but the reports that he would return for the first episode only appear to be misdirection. Maggie Smith, in the scene pictured above, foreshadowed Matthew’s death when she said “we don’t always get our just desserts. The scene was  interspersed with scenes of Matthew driving (and looking careless) following the birth of his son.

It turns out that Dan Stevens had decided not to return for a fourth season even before filming began for the third season. Stevens said, “We were always optioned for three years.” At that time it is doubtful anyone would have predicted how successful the show would have become, leading to a fourth season. He If he had to leave the show, the season did wrap up Matthew’s story line well. Matthew saved Downton financially earlier in the season, and the importance of his actions was emphasized in the Christmas episode. There were also happy moments in the episode, as Mary and Matthew had a son. In retrospect we were also told that Matthew’s role in the series had ended as Mary described this as the two completing their jobs, providing a heir for Downton. There will now be two children at Downton lacking a parent. Tom Branson still isn’t completely comfortable in his role, but he has become part of the upstairs cast following the death of Lady Sybil earlier in the season. Branson, and a new maid, did learn the social implication of his new role in this episode.

It does appear that one new character might be added to the cast. Like the original Upstairs, Downstairs, a young and wilder niece (who already visited earlier in the season) is coming to live with the family, and might open up potential new story lines. With Downton Abbey you can’t predict if this will be a permanent edition, or just a brief visit from someone who will soon be forgotten as with Shirley MacLain’s character in the third season.

Downton Abbey Birth

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Jenna-Louise Coleman on BBC Breakfast

Jenna-Louise Coleman interviewed earlier today on BBC Breakfast, discussing her role as Clara, the Doctor’s new companion. She refers to the question as to how she and Oswin are related as a soft mystery which will not be answered yet.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Snowmen; Merlin Finale; Fringe; Star Trek Into Darkness; Dexter; and Homeland

Doctor Who: The Snowmen airs on Christmas Day, introducing a new companion. Some clips and interviews can be seen in the video above.

Another clip from The Snowmen above.

Digital Spy interviewed Steven Moffat, who talked about the upcoming episodes of Doctor Who. He also denies internet rumors that William Shatner might play the Master:

William Shatner being The Master would be too confusing wouldn’t it? He’s Captain Kirk! It’s already confusing that there are now two Captain Kirks. But if I was considering it I wouldn’t tell you. I love William Shatner but John Simm is The Master… John Simm would beat [Shatner] up if he thought he was going to take that part.

Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Smith discussed how the Doctor met his new companion in the interview above.

Jenna Louise Dec 2012

The Telegraph interviewed Jenna-Louise Coleman:

What can Coleman do with the role of companion that hasn’t been done before? Does she believe that her character moves it into a new realm? ‘Yes I do!’ she says enthusiastically. ‘The Doctor really wants to find out about her. She is obviously very clever, possibly more clever than he is, so she’s a challenge. I really liked that about the role.’

Has she any idea just how this will change her life? ‘Well,’ she says, ‘on one level it already has! I’ve been filming non-stop since it was announced, so my life has really been taken over by Doctor Who and nothing else.’ When she has had some free time, such as the occasional weekend, she has returned to the flat in London she shares with three of her childhood friends.

‘It’s refreshing,’ she says. ‘We all do different jobs now. I have to work the hardest at maintaining my friendships, though, because I am never around. I suppose my friends are very tolerant.’ She says the same goes for her relationship with her boyfriend, Richard Madden, the Game of Thrones star. ‘We both work hard,’ she says. ‘But he’s coming back from filming soon, so …’ She shrugs. ‘It’s good, work is good.

Merlin Finale

The Diamond of the Day, the two-part series finale of Merlin, received excellent reviews before it aired and another review can be found here. The series finale will air on Christmas Eve.

Fringa Nina

Fringe showed the end of Nina’s story, at least until a possible reset which was mentioned in the previews. While she killed herself to avoid interrogation by the Observers while hiding the child Observer, Nina would have been in trouble regardless of the events of this weeks episode as the Observers had already figured out that she was  source of the concrete-melting device used in a previous episode. The episode also revealed that Donald and September are the same person, leaving questions as to  whether September was once a normal human and how he became an Observer. Perhaps the arc showing Peter place the device in his neck was to set up the possibility of a human becoming an Observer.

Star Trek Into Darkness

J.J. Abramas has said more than he has revealed in the past about the plot of Star Trek Into Darkness and the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch:

So this movie doesn’t require you have seen the first movie. The characters are a group of people who have recently come together and find themselves up against this incredibly terrifying force. His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an average – that is what makes him so scary – he is just an average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet, and he turns against the group because he has got this back-story and this kind of amazing secret agenda. After two very violent attacks, one in London and one in the US, our characters have to go after this guy and apprehend him. And it is a far more complicated and difficult thing then they ever anticipated. “Into Darkness” is very much about how intense it gets and really what they are up against.

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Dexter and Homeland concluded their seasons last week. Dexter is heading toward the end, which probably will not be good for a serial killer. Dexter has killed at least three people who do not meet his code before the season finale: someone he mistook for a killer in Season 4, the guy in the bathroom after Rita’s murder, and Hannah’s father. With LaGuerta, not only is Dexter willing to kill someone who is innocent but Debra pulled the trigger. Hannah (Yvonne Strahovsk) ominously left Dexter a black orchid after escaped policy custody, and the producers are hoping to bring her back for another season.

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Homeland left Brody on the run and presumably they will find some way to get him back into the main action next season. Perhaps he will find information on a terrorist plot while on the run, or perhaps it will turn out that he has more knowledge which the CIA needs to obtain from him. As he is using Carrie’s network, it wouldn’t be implausible for Carrie to track him down. Carrie already believes Brody is innocent. Saul should also realize that Brody was set up, knowing that the confession tape had been filmed quite a while previously and was in the hands of others. As Brody’s daughter believes that Brody did not plan a suicide bombing this time, room is left open for reconciliation with his family. It would be harder for Brody to publicly be seen as innocent. They certainly cannot say that the tape was made not now but before a previous planned suicide bombing. Perhaps the most plausible story would be that Brody had been forced to make this tape while still a prisoner, and broken to the extent that he would read anything.

How I Met Your Mother has been renewed for a ninth and final season, dragging out the explanation as to how Ted met his wife for yet another year.

Walking Dead has been renewed for a fourth season but Glen Mazzara, is leaving as show runner.

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Second Prequel To The Snowmen Released

The BBC has released a second prequel mini-episode to The Snowmen, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special (video above). The BBC has also announced that there will be a new title sequence with an updating of the theme music for the special.

 

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SciFi Weekend: Homeland and Dexter Season Finales; Fringe; Doctor Who; Merlin; Dallas

Episode 212

Homeland concludes the second season tonight. With Abu Nazir and Vice President Walden dead, the biggest question is how (or whether) they will conclude the season and leave it plausible for Brody to survive into a third season. As this is becoming increasingly implausible, many fans are speculating that Brody might get killed in the finale and the series will continue on without him. I doubt it, but it certainly is possible. There is also speculation that Estes might get killed, with Saul in charge next season. Some of the theories floating around can be found here, but we will know how the season ends later this evening. Entertainment Weekly had an interview with executive producer Alex Gansa:

So what can Gansa tease about next week’s season finale? “The final episode is called ‘The Choice,’ and what I can say about it is Walden is dead. Nazir is dead. So we’ve sort of left the thriller aspects of the show behind and now we come to a very personal story about Carrie and Brody and all the obstacles that lie in the way of them being together. That is what the finale is about. It’s a real character study of these two people, where they’ve come from, how they regard each other, and whether or not there’s a future for them.”

Dexter also concludes the season tonight. The previews show him being arrested. That could be the season-ending cliff hanger or possibly even a dream. I suspect that it might be an event taking place earlier in the episode, with Dexter released due to lack of evidence against him. After all, Dexter and Debra have been busy planting false evidence, and we know that there is an entire season to go before seeing Dexter’s ultimate fate.

There is still a little time until the series finale of Fringe, and this week’s episode was a real trip (in Walter’s mind). They didn’t find Donald, but they found Sam Weiss and ultimately the child Observer, who undoubtedly will play a role in however this series does end. (Or perhaps not–I also believed that Peter developing Observer powers would be important, and it no longer looks like that is the case).

I’ve previously posted the BBC trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Snowmen. Above is a different version from BBC America. Another BBC trailer can be seen here.

The BBC has announced that the second half of the current season of Doctor Who will begin airing in April.

The BBC commissioned a report on the portrayal of gay characters on television. While faults were found in stereotypes on some shows, other shows such as Doctor Who and Downton Abbey were praised: “Doctor Who quite often has a gay character in it but it isn’t always an issue or the plotline,” said anti-hate crime charity Galop. “It’s just incidental, which has been quite nice.” One example is more than just incidental–Captain Jack Harkness who has both been a companion to the Doctor and has stared in the spin off Torchwood.

I don’t want to give away too much to those waiting for Merlin to air in the United States, but this week’s episode has drawn the battle lines for the two-part series finale. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone acquainted with the King Arthur legends, but it does represent a change from earlier events of the final season.

TNT will have the funeral of J.R. Ewing on their remake of Dallas on the March 11 episode following the recent death of Larry Hagman while the series was filming. The series is being rewritten to account for the death of J.R.

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SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Doctor Who Christmas Special And 50th Anniversary; Star Trek Into Darkness; Downton Abbey Christmas Special

Before this week’s episode of Fringe, theories about how the series would end fell into two categories. There were the happy endings in which the Observers were defeated, possibly including a cosmic reset going back to the day in the park. There were also predictions of unhappy endings, at least for Peter, after inserting the Observer’s device in his brain stem. This ranged from Peter dying (which has been foreshadowed so many times in the past) in order to defeat the Observers, to the possibility that Peter’s actions led to the eventual development of the Observers. After Walter warned that the effects on Peter were soon to be irreversible, it became clear that this arc would lead to one of two results–either Peter would remove the device or he would soon become bald, and with a changed personality. This week’s episode resolved the issue with a pocket knife and self-performed surgery.

Besides convincing Peter of the importance of human emotions, Olivia stuck a blow for science and math over alternative explanations to those with extraordinary abilities:  it’s all just numbers, and the invaders are better at math than we are. After she defeats the Observers, we’ll set her loose on today’s Republicans.

The series finale is to be entitled An Enemy of Fate. Presumably this refers to someone who prevents humanity’s fate of being enslaved to the Observers.

Companions have fallen in love with the Doctor, but this time it might be the Doctor falling for the new companion–and who can blame him considering what we’ve seen of Jenna-Louise Coleman:

Matt Smith says the Time Lord is “attracted” to all his female companions – and that he’s particularly struck by new partner in time Clara when he meets her in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special The Snowmen.

“I think, in one way or another, the Doctor is always attracted to his companion and he’s certainly taken by this striking young lady,” Smith tells Radio Times in the new edition of the magazine.

And he says Clara is just what the Doctor ordered after the loss of former travelling companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).

“The fall of the Ponds had a grave effect on the man,” said Smith. “I think he’s quite lonely and removed from the universe and not really as engaged as he was, at his best with Amy and Rory. “Handily, he meets a jaunty new companion, a hot chick…”

Fans will have to wait until Christmas to see the full effect Clara has on the Doctor but they’ve already glimpsed her snatching a rare kiss from him in a BBC1 Christmas trailer and Smith said “what’s interesting with a new companion is that it changes the way [the Doctor] is and affects his personality.”

The BBC have announced the airtime for the Doctor Who 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen. The episode will air on BBC One at 5:15 p.m, December 25. It will air on BBC America and in Canada (SPACE) on December 25. It will air in New Zealand and Australia on December 26. More pictures from the Christmas Special can be seen here.

The Doctor Who series 7 finale finished filming last week. There are rumors that the 50th Anniversary special will start filming in February. Other rumors include a title of The Eleven Doctors with all eleven Doctors appearing in some manner. The manner is not clear as not all former Doctors are living and Christopher Eccleston has said he will not appear in the special.

The trailer forStarhas been released (video above).

The Japanese trailer (above) has additional material. While the villain appears to be Gary Mitchell as opposed to Khan, there is a scene reminiscent of Spock’s death scene in Star Trek II. Hopefully that is not what is actually occurring–we don’t need a remake of The Search For Spock.

Pictures from the Downton Abbey Christmas Special can be seen here. Beware if waiting for the third season to play in the United States–these must be considered spoilers for 3rd season events based upon who is present and who is not present.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Christmas Special; Merlin To End; Sherlock Delayed; Revolution; Star Trek; Downton Abbey; Into The Darkness

The BBC has released the poster for The Snowmen, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special. The official synopsis:

Christmas Eve 1892 and the falling snow is the stuff of fairy-tales. When the fairy-tale becomes a nightmare and a chilling menace threatens Earth, an unorthodox young governess, Clara, calls on the Doctor for help. But the Doctor is in mourning, reclusive and determined not to engage in the problems of the universe. As old friends return, will the Doctor really abandon humankind or will he fight to save the world – and Christmas – from the icy clutches of this mysterious menace.

Radio Times has The Snowmen on their cover. Blogtor Who reports that the article quotes Jenna-Louise Coleman as saying, “I’m not Oswin: I’m a different person who looks and sounds like Oswin.” Could it be that there is no connection, or is Moffat dragging out an explanation? If at some point we find out that Clara gets duplicated, don’t get too attached to the copy. Same goes if we meet a descendent of Clara’s who looks a lot like her.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Jenna-Louise Coleman about her role as Clara, the Doctor’s new companion. She had no further information to reveal about how she appears after having been blown up as a Dalek in Asylum of the Daleks:

So, you played an ultimately deceased Dalek on that show and now you are about to debut (again!) on the special Christmas show as the Doctor’s assistant. All of which obviously raises about a thousand questions. Is this a subject that is going to be addressed in the Christmas episode?
Uh… mmm… no. We’re going to have what has been referred to as a “soft mystery.” For me, filming, I’ve been totally oblivious to Oswin and the “Asylum of the Daleks.” I really have had to erase it from my memory. Yeah, Christmas is it’s own episode.

Oswin was a Dalek. Can you tell us whether your companion is human? Not all of the Doctor’s companions have been.
That’s why it’s so difficult [to talk about it]. Because of the way it started with Oswin, it’s really difficult to say much: where she’s from, what period she’s from, what planet she’s from, even.

It’s not often an actor can’t even reveal what planet their character is from.
Exactly, yeah. I know. Doctor Who’s the worst for it, isn’t it?

The BBC has announced that Merlin will end after the fifth season, which is currently being aired in the U.K. I will try to avoid giving away too much for those waiting for the season to air in the United States but there will be some spoilers here. I had thought that the entire series was to be about younger versions of Merlin and Arthur, taking place before the major occurrences of the legends. Now it appears the series might include the entire Arthur story.  The final season is in some ways more like the King Arthur legends except that this still seems earlier in the legends than might be expected at the conclusion of the story. Mordred plays a part in the final series and based upon released synopses of upcoming episodes we do appear to be heading towards their final confrontation.

The video above contains an interview with Colin Morgan. There is also talk of a spin off series taking place in this time period.

Production on Sherlock has been delayed so we will have to wait until late 2013 to see how the cliff hanger is resolved, with the third season not airing in the United States until late 2013 or 2014.

Revolution wrapped up the first half of the season. The mid-season finale was disappointing, but this came as no surprise based upon how the series has been written to date. The entire first half of the season consisted of an arc in which Rachel’s son was captured and it came as no surprise that the arc ended by freeing him. The contrived suspense of whether Miles would rejoin the militia, which began in a flashback the previous week, ended as expected. What could have been a surprise at the end of the episode, a helicopter in the air, had been given away by scenes of the helicopters in the preview. Even if Rachel had really built a working amplifier, could this really support helicopters going an distance? I suppose they also quickly invented some sort of receivers for the helicopters so that they would have power but there wouldn’t be electricity for everyone else around.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed series creator Eric Kripke about the finale. Here are some of the questions and answers:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was there ever a version in your head where Miles goes, “Yeah, I’m re-joining Monroe”?
Eric Kripke: What we love about Miles is half of him is light and half is shadow. If this story was set a couple years ago he would be the bad guy. You never want to lose sight of that. Just because Miles was able to face-off with Monroe in this particular encounter and maintain the heroic side of his personality doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. So even though he was able to resist the temptation, that temptation is still there. Even moreso when he starts to fulfill his destiny and becomes a leader for the rebels [in the second half of the season]; he starts to fall into his old bloodthirsty patterns again. … There’s also a lot of important pieces in last night’s episode that move the story forward. We’re setting up how pissed Monroe is going to be in the second half of the season; how personal Neville is going to take Miles’ assault on his wife. And [we hinted that] Rachel and Miles have a very secret history.

I gotta ask, since I’m seeing this comment on the boards: How could Rachel forget to grab the pendant on the way out of the room?
Kripke: We shot a scene where Rachel goes, “We have to go back and get the pendant,” and Miles says, “We can’t go back, they’re shooting machine guns at us!” We ended up cutting it for time because we thought, maybe wrongly, that when there’s a room full of five people shooting machine guns in your direction that you can’t run toward those machine guns.

You mentioned the learning curve, what more have you figured out since the last time we spoke?
Kripke: The biggest lesson we learned is we need to move this story forward a little faster. We’re still going to have the same format where each episode is centered around a single event so it has certain self-enclosed elements to the storytelling. But sometimes in the emotional arcs and serialized arcs we treaded water maybe a little too much without revealing either new character moves or emotional revelations. We went a couple episodes too many where we didn’t move the ball forward significantly. We’re trying to correct that so that every time somebody tunes in they get a satisfying story and also a big “what the hell” moment

Staging a revolution is a pretty big venture. Can you give us an idea of what specific characters will be focused on?
Kripke: Charlie and Miles are really going to be focused on the war against Monroe. Miles leading the rebels gives them a fighting chance and Charlie is right beside him. Rachel and Aaron will focus the ongoing mythology in terms of revealing why the lights go out. I can reveal now that we do reveal it, now that we’ve written that scene. And reveal how to turn them back on.

You’re not that deep into production on the second half of the season, so can we assume that revelation comes fairly early?
Yeah in the second half it happens sooner than anyone is thinking it will happen.

Revolution has been mediocre but has managed to keep me hooked by wondering about its back story. Knowing that their will be a revelation early has me hooked into starting the second half of the season, and once I start watching I’m likely to continue through the first season. Will they come up with enough to advance this story into a second year?

An official synopsis has been released for Star Trek Into Darkness, scheduled for release on May 17, 2013:

In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.

With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

My immediate thought on this: Gary Mitchell (Where No Man Has Gone Before). The above video is obviously  from the original show and not the upcoming movie.

Last week’s installment of SciFi Weekend had some cases of shows having to carry on with the loss of characters. Now there are reports that Dan Stevens will only return for the first episode of the fourth season of Downton Abbey. His character, Matthew, takes on a prominent role at Downton in the third season (which has not yet aired in the United States) and I wonder if it will require a major change in direction for the fourth season if it is necessary to write him out. Perhaps more money will encourage him to stay, or at least make occasional appearances so that they can just say he is working in London for parts of the season.

Julian Fellowes is going to be writing and producing a series on The Gilded Age for NBC:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – November 27, 2012 – NBC and Universal Television have entered into a deal with Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning writer-producer Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey,” “Gosford Park”) to create and produce his next dramatic television series, it was jointly announced today by Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment, and Bela Bajaria, Executive Vice President, Universal Television.

Fellowes, creator of “Downton Abbey,” will write and produce “The Gilded Age,” an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made — and spent — in late nineteenth-century New York. “This was a vivid time,” says Fellowes, “with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king.”

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Christmas Special and Journey to the Centre of the Tardis; Fringe; Bill Prady on Romney’s View of Voting To Get Free Stuff

Pictures from the Doctor Who Christmas Special have been released and two videos of consequence were presented at Children in Need. First there is a prequel episode, The Great Detective, in which we find that the Doctor has retired. Secondly there is the trailer for the Christmas episode in which the Doctor’s retirement on screen is a brief as we would expect.

Here is the announcement from the BBC:

‘The Snowmen’ has been revealed as the title for this year’s movie-scale Doctor Who Christmas special, and the episode that will introduce the new companion, a new look for the Doctor and a new monster that will have families shivering behind their sofas.

Starring Matt Smith as the Doctor, and introducing Jenna-Louise Coleman as new companion Clara, The Snowmen will follow their adventures as they embark on a mission to save Christmas from the villainous Doctor Simeon (Richard E Grant) and his army of icy snowmen.

Fans also got a sneak peak at a new costume for the Doctor, revealed in an exclusive trailer on Children in Need, while a special prequel showed the impact of the loss of the Ponds, with old friends Vastra, Strax and Jenny trying to persuade the Doctor not to give up on adventures.

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said: “The Doctor at Christmas is one of my favourite things – but this year it’s different. He’s lost Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels, and he’s not in a good place: in fact, he’s Scrooge. He’s withdrawn from the world and no longer cares what happens to it. So when all of humanity hangs in the balance, can anyone persuade a tired and heartbroken Doctor that it’s time to return to the good fight? Enter Jenna-Louise Coleman…”

Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, commented: “For this year’s Christmas special we have the wonderfully villainous Richard E Grant as Doctor Simeon – as well as lizards, Victorian assassins and deranged warriors from the future, who all return to convince the Doctor that he should board the TARDIS again and save the world. Add to that Jenna-Louise Coleman, and so begins the Christmas Special 2012. I hope everyone enjoys it!”

The BBC Cymru Wales produced drama will return to BBC One in December, with a further eight epic episodes in spring next year.

Doctor Who TV previews an episode for the second half of the season, to air this spring:

Writer Stephen Thompson speaks about his upcoming episode for Series 7: Part 2 in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine(#454 out today.)

He confirms the story is titled Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and explains how the episode came to be: “My first meeting was last October. I went along with a pocketful of dream-episodes. (Still trying to work out a way to shoehorn the Krynoids in. Might yet happen.) This initial meeting is fairly predictable. Before I even open my mouth and pitch to the room, Steven goes ‘I want you to do x.’ And his idea is so wonderful, and so much more clever and interesting than anything mere mortals like myself could come up with, you end up saying ‘Yes’ and the meeting’s over in record time. Or at least the same time it took last year. And so it was. ‘Would you do one where we see the centre of the TARDIS?’ ‘Er, yeah. Okay.’ Conversation took nine seconds. And then I’m chained to a laptop on and off for the next six months, basically.”

“Actually Steven had two ancillary reasons for bringing that idea to the table. One: he admits to being haunted by The Invasion of Time – the story from 1978 set on board the TARDIS, where the sets were cobbled together at the last minute. Unfortunately a TV strike meant that studio sets were not built, and as a result our only glimpse of the TARDIS interior has been a disused hospital in Surrey with bin-bags stuck to the windows. Two: Steven knows; that I’m a pure mathematician and anything involving multi-dimensional geometry gets me excited. (There’s my geek credentials.) So – that was the brief. What’s in the middle? Plus the title. And then I’m sent off to fill in all the blanks.”

He adds: “[With The Curse of the Black Spot] my brief from Steven was very different – he said a lot of the [Series 6] episodes were dark and complex, and he needed me to write something light. This year got to indulge my inner fan. (And I got to ask my kids what rooms in the TARDIS they’ve always wanted to find.)

“This episode will be different in many ways, not least because the star won’t necessarily be the usual person. You might not even see the star, it might be the guy at the drawing board. It just might be the designer…”

Fringe is now about putting things into or taking things out of the brainstem and brain, and the consequences of such action.  On Fringe, greater intellectual power tends to have dangerous trade offs, if not being outright evil. We continue to see Peter developing his Observer powers after implanting Observer technology in his neck, with Olivia now aware of what Peter has done. There is parallel story going on with Walter and Nina with Walter wanting Nina to remove the parts of his brain which William Bell removed and which were later restored.

There are so many questions leading into the final episodes of the series. I wonder if Peter might wind up being the first Observer, setting everything else in motion, and providing an explanation as to why so much has centered around Peter. Will we be better or worse off with Peter becoming more like the Observers and with Walter more like his old self? Will Peter lose all his hair? Will Walter perform a lobotomy on himself if Nina does not help him? Will the Observers continue to allow pictures of Etta to go up all over as the face of the resistance? Will Peter defeat the Observers and pull a cosmic reset switch, returning to the park with Olivia and Etta? We will have to wait three weeks to find out anything more, with the next episode featuring Peter vs. Windmark.

I have previously presented opinions on the election from people in show business. In case have not seen it, the one which you really should not miss was from Joss Whedon on  how Mitt Romney’s policies would set up the conditions needed for a Zombie Apocalypse. The same issues remain even if Romney has become a toxic-asset which even Republicans now want to be rid of. Almost everyone seems to have turned on Mitt Romney for his view on the 47 percent and takers after the election, including Republicans who defended Romney on this view during the campaign. I previously commented on this post-election Romney gaffe when speaking to donors here and here. Bill Prady, creator of Big Bang Theory, weighed in on Romney’s flawed view on his Facebook page. A portion follows:

I number among my friends many who, like myself, voted for the President. Not one of them gets “free stuff” from the government (unless you count Social Security and Medicare, I suppose). My friends are hard working moms and camera operators. They are teachers and gardeners and maids. They are writers and actors. People with jobs. Two jobs, some of them. They didn’t vote to get free stuff.

Me, I created a television show. I didn’t vote to get free stuff.

We voted for the President because we share his vision for America. We believe in a country where people are treated with respect no matter who they are. We believe in the freedom to love whom you love — and to marry the person you love. We believe that no family should go bankrupt because their child becomes sick.

We believe that women can make their healthcare decisions for themselves in consultation with their doctor and their god and that they don’t need a politician to tell them what to do. We also believe they should be paid the same if they do the same work.

We believe that lowering taxes on the wealthy isn’t an economic policy and it doesn’t lead to prosperity and higher employment. The experts believe that, too — it’s in the report the Senate recently suppressed. We also believe that because we lived through it — it lead to the worst economic disaster in our lifetimes.

We believe that the men and women who wear the uniform of our nation deserve our highest respect, and we believe that when we send them to fight unnecessary wars and then don’t care for them when they return we have betrayed that respect. We also believe that if we ask them to leave their jobs and fight for us, we should make sure they can get jobs when they return.

We believe that asking people like me to pay a little more — just what we paid during the Clinton administration (one of the greatest periods of growth in modern history) — isn’t communism. It isn’t socialism. It’s fair.

We believe the infrastructure of this nation is crumbling and that we must invest in the repair of our roads, bridges and schools. And we believe that in those schools, our children — our most precious resource — should be getting the best education whether they live in Chevy Chase or Harlem.

We are hard working people who worked hard for this victory.

The Big Bang Theory get into genre (including recent references to Doctor Who) far more than politics, as would be expected on a network television show seeking to appeal to a mass audience, but there have been a number of amusing swipes at the religious right on past episodes such as here and in the clip below.

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