SciFi Weekend: Twice Upon A Time; Black Mirror Does Star Trek (And More) With USS Callister; Jonathan Frakes on Star Trek Discovery and The Orville; Top New Genre Shows Of 2017

Twice Upon A Time was the final episode of Doctor Who for both Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat. The episode has far more references to previous episodes than I’d attempt to list and makes it clear that it is part of a tradition starting long before either Capaldi or Moffat were involved. It goes back to the first Doctor, starting with black and white footage and the caption “709 episodes ago,” ultimately leading to the words “to be continued.”

We knew it would be continued although both the first and the twelfth Doctor threatened  not to regenerate. Of course we knew that the first had to regenerate as we have seen subsequent Doctors. It was also no surprise that Twelve ultimately decided that, “One more lifetime won’t kill anyone…except me.” Of course each Doctor will give into yet one more lifetime.

The episode differed from a typical episode in that we learned that the Testimony was not really doing anything menacing. (“I don’t know what to do when it isn’t an evil plan.”) Rather than having the universe in danger this was a smaller scale story, only giving enough plot so that we didn’t have the two Doctors, along with the Captain and Bill’s memories, do nothing but talk to each other. This also enabled Moffat to return to his earliest stories. The planet Villengard was from his first Doctor Who story, The Doctor Dances, and Rusty the good Dalek returned from Into The Dalek. The idea of memories living on after death has been seen repeatedly in Moffat’s stories in some form or another.

The year of #MeToo turned out to be the perfect year for Doctor Who to explore sexism, contrasting the first Doctor’s 1960’s attitudes with the present. When the twelfth Doctor said, “You can’t say things like that,” he was not only lecturing someone from the 1960’s, but was also pointing out what he has learned over time. It was an even bigger shock for the first Doctor when he and the Captain mentioned that they have had “some experience of the fairer sex” and Bill responded that she has too. Ultimately the glass ceiling in the TARDIS was broken (along with the entire TARDIS blowing up).

Besides the appearances by David Bradley as William Hartnell’s first Doctor (after having played Hartnell in the An Adventure in Space And Time), and the return of some form of Bill, there were brief cameos by Clara Oswald and Nardole, with the Doctor regaining his memory of Clara. The two characters out of World War I were by Mark Gatiss and Toby Whitehouse, both writers with Doctor Who experience. The Captain also turned out to have yet another role in Doctor Who history as he was ultimately identified as Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart–the grandfather of General Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart,  the Brigadier. (His exact relationship was not mentioned in the episode but SciFi Wire reports that Gatiss referred to his character as the Brigadier’s grandfather in a press Q&A).

Being a time travel story, there was the obvious slip (“Spoilers”) of the Doctor referring to the “War To End All Wars” as “World War I.”  “What do you mean ‘one’?” Plus being a Christmas episode led to the perfect resolution of the Captain’s story with the Doctor returning him a few hours later so that instead of being shot he participated in the Christmas Armistice of 1914

Of course we all knew where this was going as Peter Capaldi gave his final speech on the TARDIS, with advice for his next self:

Oh there it is. Silly old universe. The more I save it, the more it needs saving. It’s a treadmill. Yes, Yes I know they’ll get it all wrong without me. Well I suppose one more lifetime won’t kill anyone. Well, except me. You wait a moment, Doctor. Let’s get it right. I’ve got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first. Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never ever ever eat pears. Remember, hate is always foolish and love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn’t tell anyone your name — no-one would understand it anyway. Except children, children can hear it, sometimes if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are, too, children can hear your name — but nobody else, nobody else, ever. Love hard, run fast, be kind. Doctor, I let you go.

Screen Rant provided an explanation as to where the various portions of this speech came from.  Den of Geek also explained:

The twelfth Doctor’s final speech, which was worked on by both Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi, contains several elements from dialogue past. “Never be cruel, never be cowardly” is a doff of the cap both to The Day Of The Doctor and to 70s script editor Terrance Dicks, who would often cite the Doctor’s lack of these two traits as one of his greatest virtues. “Never eat pears” is a reference to Paul Cornell’s novel Human Nature, in which the seventh Doctor expressed a dislike for pears before taking on human form. A similar line was cut from the 2007 tenth Doctor adaptation with the same name. In Hell Bent the Doctor told Clara never to eat pears, as “they’re too squishy and they always make your chin wet”.

“Be kind” is what the Doctor begged of the Master and Missy back in The Doctor Falls, but it was also said by the tenth Doctor to the Vashta Nerada in Forest Of The Dead. “Don’t tell anyone your name” likely refers to the kerfuffle caused by the Doctor’s name in Matt Smith’s final year, when it was revealed that saying his name on Trenzalore would have reignited the Time War. However, the Doctor did seemingly tell River Song his real name on the occasion of their ‘nuptials’ in 2011’s The Wedding Of River Song – but then, as we’ve been told, ‘the Doctor lies’… The part about the stars and one’s heart being in the right place appears to be the invention of Peter Capaldi, who expressed a similar sentiment at a special screening earlier this year.

Then there was the regeneration energy, the Doctor’s ring fell off, and we had a new Doctor. Just as we first saw Peter Capaldi’s forehead and eyes, this is what we first saw of Jody Whittaker. Apparently us Americans will have to learn to understand Jody Whittaker’s Yorkshire accent. All we heard from her so far was, “Oh brilliant.” Then there was the ultimate cliff hanger as the TARDIS exploded and the thirteenth Doctor was falling towards the earth. Presumably this will enable her to have her own look for the TARDIS, or perhaps she will be without it for a while.

More on Twice Upon A Time, and the question of the Doctor’s real name, here.

Just as Doctor Who incorporated the Doctor from the 1960’s, Black Mirror began its fourth season with an homage to the other classic science fiction show of the 1960’s, Star Trek, with USS Callister. It first appeared as an over-the-top parody of a Star Trek episode, culminating with Captain Kirk kissing all the girls. It turned out to be something completely different. Major spoilers ahead.

While Star Trek type science fiction played a key role in the story, the story was more about artificial reality and about abuse of power. Jesse Plemons played the co-head of a tech firm who did not get much respect on the job, and took it out on sentient digital clones of others in the office. Most had accepted their roles and inability to fight back until a new employee played by Cristin Milioti was brought aboard. The final straw was finding that she had been robbed of her sexuality, and her vagina. She led a successful rebellion, which included blackmailing her real self into helping with revealing pictures hidden online. It all worked out well in the end with the digital clones becoming free of Jesse Plemons and free to explore the digital universe, now with a modern JJ Abrams Star Trek look (including lens flare). Perhaps if Plemons wasn’t so concerned with exercising power and abusing others he could have had far greater adventures in his digital world.

Den of Geek interviewed Charlie Brooker and Anabel Jones about the episode:

This is a brilliant ‘have your cake and eat it’ episode, in that you start with the spoof of the ship navigating the asteroid belt, then by the end I’m watching like this [mimes learning forward, tense] thinking ‘are they going to get through the asteroid belt?!’ How did the layers of that story evolve?

Charlie Brooker: We were on the set of Playtest from the previous season and we were saying ‘we haven’t done a space episode. What’s a Black Mirror space episode?’ and quite quickly we went ‘well, it couldn’t really be in space, it would have to be in a simulation’, then quite quickly again it was like ‘what if there are people who are copied in and they’re trapped in there and it’s like a prison?’

Like White Christmas?

CB: Yeah! And then the captain is the baddie, so it’s like Playtime Fontayne from Viz, who’s a grown man who makes everyone play games like a child. It’s like a nightmare, he’s a tyrant, he’s mad! So then we started calling it Toy Story or Adult Toy Story, we kept calling it…

Annabel Jones: …which then sounded wrong! [laughs]

CB: Relatively quickly those thoughts came together. Then the notion of it being a sort of vintage show that he was obsessed by kind of came in slightly later because we thought, what’s even more unexpected? A), because the world he has created is a throwback and a simplistic interpretation of shows like that. It’s his interpretation of that show, rather than what that show would have actually been, it’s his simplistic fable version of it and it’s quite reductive and out of date. We’re not saying that shows of that nature are reductive and out of date, because they were actually very progressive at the time. His warped version of it.

Partly it also came about because we wanted to have an opening where you go ‘what the fuck is this?’…

He starts as the underdog and I thought I was going to like him, he seemed like my kind of socially awkward guy. Then you see him behaving like a cruel tyrant, ignoring the irony of the speech he gives about the utopian ideals of Space Fleet. He’s like ‘actually, it’s about ethics in space exploration!’ Was that intended as a comment on online fandom and that sort of character?

CB: Not really. It’s interesting because that is a thing that a couple of people have said. That worries me slightly because I don’t want it to be seen that we’re attacking fans of classic sci-fi, that speech is more meant to be a bit of a joke really. He delivers this speech, which presumably he has lifted from an episode of Space Fleet, about the noble ideals of this progressive UN-in-space, and then he turns around and goes “…and you arseholes are fucking it all up!” It’s meant to illustrate the gulf between his fantasy heroics—he wants to be the hero in this make-believe world—and the stupidity and tyranny of what he’s actually doing…

Speaking of influences, there are echoes of that Twilight Zone great episode with Anthony Fremont, the little kid who controls his town and turns people into Jack-in-a-box. Was that an inspiration or just somewhere in the back of your head?

CB: I think at some point I thought ‘hang on, it’s not a million miles away’ because he’s a tyrant, that kid is a dictator that everybody has to be extremely mindful of, that lives in a fantasy world so probably unconsciously there was an element of that. Certainly you could draw a parallel there.

Are you a Star Trek fan? What’s your relationship with that franchise?

CB: I was probably more of a Doctor Who fan as a kid, or Twilight Zone or Tales Of The Unexpected but Star Trek was kind of an anthology show as well in a way. I never really watched the 90s Star Trek series. Will Bridges, who co-wrote the episode, is a big, big, big Star Trek fan, so he was delighted at the chance to do all that. He knew a lot of the lingo.

The episode has a lot of fun with early Star Trek…

CB: Tropes, yes. A lot of that came from Will, he was like ‘Oh, I know! This and that can happen’, so he was having a lot of fun in that respect. I watched The Original Series when I was a kid and would find it terrifying a lot of the time. I think we wanted it to feel, generally, with classic sci-fi, we wanted it to feel more like an homage than an attack.

An affectionate ribbing?

CB: Yeah. There’s a bit of piss-taking going on but really it’s aimed at Daly.

So incurring the wrath of Star Trek fans isn’t something you’re worried about?

CB: Well it’s worrying, because you don’t want to upset people unnecessarily. We’re not saying that is a rubbish show, or it’s a throwback, because again, it was wildly ahead of its time. He says at one point that it was visionary, and that’s true!

Of course this season we have had two different interpretations of Star Trek with new the new shows, Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville. Jonathan Frakes, who has past experience on Star Trek: The Next Generation, has directed episodes of both and discussed this with IndieWire:

Mimicking a variety of styles is something that the veteran director is quite used to doing. In just the last year, Jonathan Frakes directed five episodes of television, including both “The Orville” and “Star Trek: Discovery,” perhaps serving as the ultimate bridge between the two fall TV homages to the “Star Trek” franchise. And according to Frakes, there’s room for both.

“Stylistically, your responsibility as an episodic television director [is] when you do a show like ‘The Orville,’ you want that show to look like ‘Next Generation,’” he said. “And when you go to Canada to do ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ they want that show to have the feeling, and look, and vibe of the J.J. [Abrams]-era ‘Star Trek.’ Much more cinematic, a lot of crane work, and a lot of movement, a lot of dutch angles. On ‘Next Generation,’ the traditional framing, and the things we became accustomed to as fans of the show, we see in [‘The Orville’] because that’s the look.”

When it came to “The Orville,” Frakes said that “I was afraid that it was going to be like ‘Family Guy,’ and it’s not really, but it’s also not really as serious as ‘Next Generation.’ I think Seth [MacFarlane], and Brannon [Braga], and whoever else is involved in all this, they found a tone that clicks with this audience, either the millennial audience or the old school audience. Everyone is very pleasantly surprised at how well the show has been received. I’m happy to see the homage, and I’m happy to see success for whoever wants to steal good ideas.”

Added Frakes, “It was a very conscious, and I think quite successful, homage. ‘Orville’s’ coming back for a second season, so is ‘Discovery.’ There’s room, obviously, in the fans’ hearts for both types of ‘Star Trek.’”

Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville are just two of the great science fiction shows to premiere in the past year. See SciFi Weekend’s ranking of the Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017. (I’m linking to it again today as those who follow links to SciFi Weekend through Facebook groups did not get the link last week as I was back in Facebook Jail last Sunday, with Facebook increasingly interfering with posting links to groups).

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; S.H.I.E.L.D.; Defiance; Continuum; Community; Dexter; Once Upon A Time; Zooey Deschanel, Terrorist; And A Warning From The Future

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Hide looked like a ghost story, but this week’s episode of Doctor Who was actually a love story involving two couples (or maybe a third). The young assistant Emma was the real reason for Doctor showing up where he did, to see if the clairvoyant Emma could detect anything unusual about Clara, “the only mystery worth solving.” While nothing unusual was revealed about Clara, Emma did warn Clara about the Doctor’s icy heart. I suspect this will play a part in whatever is revealed in the season finale.

The episode picked up on the theme of the TARDIS not yet accepting Clara, but by the end they worked out their differences and went on to save the Doctor. Last week in Cold War it was necessary to contrive a way to get rid of the TARDIS to avoid a simple solution to being trapped in the submarine. This week did something which few too many episodes do–use time travel as part of a story. This did wind up leaving one time traveler just hanging around, possibly a loose end to come up in  a future episode. It also showed Clara the full meaning of time travel and the Doctor:

Clara: “To you I haven’t been born yet, and to you I’ve been dead a hundred billion years. Is my body out there somewhere, in the ground?”

The Doctor: “Yes, I suppose it is.”

Clara: “But here we are, talking, so I am a ghost. To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing.”

The behind the scenes video is above.

This was actually the first episode filmed with the modern Clara Oswald, written by Neil Cross, who subsequently wrote The Rings of  Akhaten. Cross did better with his first attempt in Hide.  Like previous episodes since Doctor Who returned, there is an homage to a previous Doctor. This time it is John Pertwee’s Doctor, from a scientist with assistant (or is it companion?) using 1970’s oscilloscopes to the need for a blue crystal from Metebelis III. Will next week’s Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS include references to Tom Baker? I suddenly feel like some Jelly Bellies.

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B

Hide played with Doctor What while Steven Moffat has made the question Doctor Who? a recurring theme.  The official synopsis for The Name of the Doctor, the final episode of the season is “Someone is kidnapping the Doctor’s friends, leading him towards the one place in all of time and space that he should never go.” Moffat says we really will learn something we haven’t known about the Doctor, telling Radio Times: “There’s going to be a revelation. I’m not teasing. I’m not wrong-footing you – you’re about to learn something about the Doctor that you never knew before. And I think you’re in for a shock.”

River Song, who proved her relationship to the Doctor by being the only person to know his name in Forest of the Dead, will be returning in this episode. The Wedding of River Song included this warning:

“The Fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the eleventh and the question. The first question, the question that must never be answered hidden in plain sight, the question you’ve been running from all your life. Doctor who? Doctor who? DOCTOR WHO?”

The fall of the eleventh has been interpreted as meaning the time of his regeneration, but it might mean something different if the Doctor’s name really s revealed, or this might not be the secret which is revealed. Even if his name is revealed, there would have to be more to the secret for it to be meaningful. Finding that his name is the Gallifreyan equivalent of John Smith would not mean very much. Perhaps the Grammar Daleks have been correct and  his real name is Doctor Whom.

There is yet another possible clue to a secret in this rumor about the 50th Anniversary episode:

…there are several sites claiming that two very reliable sources have independently revealed that John Hurt will be playing the real 9th Doctor :O Basically Eccleston, Tennant and Smith’s Doctor have either forgotten or have repressed Hurt’s incarnation for some unknown reason, and it is very possible that the secret due to be revealed in the season finale next month is that Smith is the 12th Doctor rather than what his real name is.

I suspect that if this is the case John Hurt’s character might not really be the Doctor, similar to the misdirection in The Next Doctor. The order of the Doctors has become ingrained too much to disturb this chronology. If Matt Smith’s Doctor really is the twelfth, it might give Moffat an opportunity to answer the question of the number of regenerations. Originally Time Lords had thirteen but obviously they will not end the show when this limit comes. There was a throw away line when David Tennant was in an episode of Sarah Jane Adventures claiming 507 but the line wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. They already have had two events in the new episodes which could alter the original limit. As the Time Lords have been overthrown, nobody knows if the old rules apply. There is also the possibility that the Doctor obtained additional regenerations when River Song gave up her future regenerations to save the Doctor’s life in Let’s Kill Hitler There is plenty of precedent for transfer of regenerative powers in Doctor Who, giving Moffat a number of possible routes. Plus, unless the number is extended, where will the Valeyard fit into this–or has the Doctor managed to avoid that fate?

Clark Gregg has a lot of information on S.H.I.E.L.D in the video above. Transcript below via Bleeding Cool:

If you watched The Avengers it was hard to miss the moment where that Asgardian bastard stabbed me quite thoroughly. And I died in The Avengers and it was a sad day because I loved Agent Coulson, and I loved going to the cons and hanging out with the Coulson fans. I was a little heartbroken. The Marvel guys said “You’re dead. You’re dead. But it’s the comics so it’s a different form of dead. Who knows, maybe we’ll see you again some day.”

I thought “You know what, I had a hell of a time playing this guy, I loved the death scene, I loved what Joss did so much,” to want any more of it felt greedy. So when I got a call a couple of months ago to say ‘We want you to come to New York Comic-Con. We’re going to announce that perhaps Coulson lives” I was very curious but also wasn’t sure that I was necessarily down with it.

I didn’t want to do anything to undermine the integrity of The Avengers and Joss didn’t either. So I had a conversation with joss and he explained to me that this [show] takes place after The Avengers, after ‘The Battle of New York’. I’m from New York, I’ve lived in a world after somebody has attacked New York, I know that there’s fall out.

The Avengers version of that world is a world that has superheroes and doorways to other dimensions and chaos. And the way Joss described to me the mystery that takes place in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and the complexity and the unanswered questions about Phil Coulson standing there trying to deal with this, I found it so fascinating and so true to the world of the comics and mythology in general as I understand them that I was immediately in.

I don’t know you could not change going through what he went through in The Avengers. If he hadn’t gone through some kind of change it wouldn’t be any good. That said, I don’t know if he understands how much he’s changed.

It would be surprising to me if this was a world where there wasn’t some reckoning…the fact that there was some level of deception must have been perpetrated on The Avengers. It must have been.

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Defiance has been billed as the next big thing from Syfy but I was not very impressed. The computer-generated special effects looked fake and I just don’t see the point in computer generated graphics which fail to give a sense of reality to scenes which could not otherwise be filmed. The town of Defiance, which is St. Louis around thirty years after a war which has altered earth, provides a scene which could just as easily be an alien planet or a spaceship which contains civilians. Julie Benz is the mayor (or if this was a spaceship, she fulfills the traditional science fiction role of the Captain). In this case, the future looks like the old west, but is far less fun than Firefly. The backdrop will allow for a wide variety of stories, with stories which felt very familiar filling the two-hour premier. Now that we have the setting down, perhaps the series can move onto more original stories.

Continuum is returning to a second season. Star Rachel Nichols was interviewed here. An excerpt:

What can we expect from the new season?
The second season is very interesting. Obviously the first season was very centered on getting home. I wanted to go home. I would be friends with the baddies, I would partner up with Liber8, whatever it took to get home. It’s obviously still important to me in the new season. However, the theme of Season 2 is responsibility. Kagame had a speech at the end of the last season about how, if you drop a pebble on one side of the world, it will become a tsunami on the other. For Keira that’s very, very important, because she wants to get home to her husband and her son. Very early on in season 2, she starts asking questions: what am I going to be returning home to? Am I costing my husband and son their lives? Will they never be born? Will I never be born because of what I’m doing now? It’s a lot to wrap your head around!

This week’s Community brought up the dark timeline. There was also a lot of nonsense such as the group believing they failed, with the grade changing to a C to an F and back again, and a knot which was not a knot. It is clear that new producers David Guarascio and Moses Port do want to keep this show as offbeat and original as it was under Dan Harmon. They just don’t have the ability to pull it off.

Dexter will be returning for its final season. A sneak peak at part of the first episode is above. The final trajectory for the series is in motion, but a spinoff isn’t ruled out.

Emilie de Ravin of Lost teased tonight’s episode of Once Upon A Time by describing her character (after losing her memory) as “young, scantily-clad chick, Lacey.” Okay, she sold me on watching, even if it is on network television.

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Zooey Deschanel was identified on the closed captioning as the suspect being chased in Boston on Friday by one television station. Needless to say, it was a Fox channel. This is no more ridiculous (and false) than most of the type going by while watching Fox, such as identifying Barack Obama as a socialist from Kenya.

From 2068, above is a documentary on The Internet: A Warning from History. The Internet was one of the greatest disasters to befall mankind…

 

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who? The Wedding of River Song

Like last year’s season finale, The Big Bang, Doctor Who ended the season by resetting the universe and with a wedding. The Wedding of River Song mostly answered the questions raised over the past season of Doctor Who. Earlier episodes of the season provided two possible ways in which there could be a replica of the Doctor who might be the one to die at Lake Silencio. A two-part story  earlier in the season (The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People) dealt with doppelgangers, including one who had replaced Amy Pond. Let’s Kill Hitler introduced the Teselecta, a time traveling ship with miniaturized people which takes the shape of a person. I thought that the Gangers were a more plausible explanation for who took the Doctor’s place, believing that a Ganger would be more likely to go into a regeneration cycle than a Teselecta if shot, but apparently Steven Moffat didn’t see it this way. I imagine that the Doctor, knowing that the Teselecta was going to simulate his death, managed to develop the appropriate special effects to make the death scene look convincing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqFB7I14VIY&feature=player_embedded

In order to create the drama for this season, as well as to prevent the Doctor from changing history to solve other problems,  the concept of a fixed point in time was established. The Doctor revealed in The Fires of Pompeii that he couldn’t change the events of history as this was a fixed point. Similarly the destruction of the base in The Waters of Mars was a fixed point in time which could not be changed. But what happens if a time traveler does change the events of a fixed point?  The Wedding of River Song showed what happened when River Song did change a fixed point by initially failing to kill the Doctor. When River failed to kill the Doctor, there was a bizarre traffic jam in time, in which events from a variety of eras got lumped together:

The description of a time traffic jam in the above video is preferable to the description given by Winston Churchill of all of history happening at one time. Even though the clocks did not move, there was obviously a concept of time as events were occurring. We saw Charles Dickens being interviewed about his upcoming Christmas story despite the fact that the calendars were not moving towards December 25, and we saw the Holy Roman Emperor (Winston Churchill) seek out the Doctor, who had previously been imprisoned. All of history could not have been happening at once or we would have seen every British leader in history, along with everyone else who has every lived in London.

Seeing time getting messed up made for memorable scenes, regardless of whether it made sense. Additional highlights of the episode included an homage to Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) while an off-screen homage to Elisabeth Sladen started the season, the homage to the Indiana Jones movies, River seeing the Doctor in the eye of the Teselecta, and “Pond, Amy Pond.” It seemed totally consistent with her character to have Amy remember the Doctor as opposed to wasting time in the episode finding a way to restore her memory, but I wonder what the people around her thought of all the weird pictures on her wall. In other revelations, the eye patches turned out to be “eye drives,” a way in which to store memory of the Silence, and there was more foreshadowing of the Doctor’s future. Some questions have not been answered, such as where the picture of Amy holding Melody in the orphanage came from.

Some of the key events of the episode, such as the wedding of River Song and the death of Madame Kovarian, occurred in an time line which was reset. It appears likely that the wedding remains real based upon events in other episodes.  The major change to occur in this episode is that, after becoming too prominent a hero in earlier episodes, the universe must now think that the Doctor is dead. One possible explanation is that the Doctor can cheat the fixed point in time as he did  by remaining alive, but the history books must still record that he died at Lake Silencio. Presumably, if the Doctor could later reveal it was all a trick and he is alive he would have done so to save River from going to prison. Instead River must spend her days in prison and nights traveling around the universe with her husband, the Doctor. There is another possible interpretation below. More on River Song’s story was reviewed on Doctor Who Confidential, with a copy of the video posted here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXR3Jw4U0s4&feature=player_embedded

The God Complex gave the Doctor reason to question the prominence of his role. This episode caused him to realize that, “My friends have always been the best of me.” Besides changing the character of the Doctor into a hero who must act behind the scenes, the episode seems to foreshadow the Doctor’s future. Presumably talk of when the Eleventh will fall refers to the Eleventh Doctor, while the question in plain sight has been asked before: “Doctor Who?” Does this foreshadow the next regeneration, or just another moment in which the Doctor must cheat destiny and prevent his fate from taking place? Perhaps the survival of the Doctor ensures that it is the Silence who will fill at the fields of Trenzalore. The Doctor pretended to be trapped in order to surprise the Silence in Day of the Moon. I wonder if the real reason the Doctor must now appear dead is to once again surprise the Silence, to ensure that it is the Silence who fall and not the Eleventh.

Other than the Christmas episode, which has started filming, we will probably have to wait around a year for more new episodes. Doctor Who Confidential will not be around when the series resumes, having been discontinued due to BBC budget cuts. There is this one brief episode of Doctor Who to watch. The winner of a writing contest held among school children was filmed as a mini-episode, Death Is The Only Answer:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who– Petrichor, For The Girl Who’s Tired of Waiting; The Wedding of River Song; Upstairs Downstairs; Community; Inspector Spacetime; Fringe; Terra Nova

Petrichor, while not used as frequently as Bad Wolf in a previous season, has become the word of the season on Doctor Who. Before its use in Closing Time,  Petrichor was mentioned in The Doctor’s Wife, first by Idris, and later Amy Pond used it as a telepathic password to enter one of the TARDIS’s old control rooms.

Idris: It means “the smell of dust after rain.”
Rory: What does?
Idris: Petrichor.
Rory: But I didn’t ask.
Idris: Not yet. But you will.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7Fl6Jwabwo&feature=related

Closing Time was primarily, but not exclusively, a light show in which the Doctor visited his old friend Craig from The Lodger. Craig is played by James Corben, who co-wrote and acted in the fantastic BBC sit-com Gavin and Stacey. The episode also included Cybermen along with a view of Amy Pond’s perfume for the girl who’s tired of waiting (video above). Ultimately the story really didn’t matter. Corben’s role wasn’t as good as in The Lodger, but I’m always happy to see Craig/Smithy.

Near the end of the episode, the Doctor, wearing a stetson, was preparing to meet his fate. He spoke to some children before entering the TARDIS, and then the scene shifted to River Song reviewing interviews with the children about what they saw. The final moments (major spoilers ahead) confirmed what most suspected ever since Flesh and Stone. River Song kills the greatest man she ever knew, and this could only be the Doctor. The episode ended with an adult Dr. Song/Melody Pond being forced into the astronaut suit and is next seen under water, presumably at Lake Silencio.Here is the final scene and commentary from Steven Moffat:

Next week, The Wedding of River Song. The BBC has released this above prequel scene:

The BBC reports that Alex Kingston is also joining the cast of Upstairs Downstairs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRPeqaZiQ-M

There was a second type of connection between Doctor Who and the Upstairs Downstairs genre of British television shows. On Community, it was claimed that Cougar Town was based upon the British television show Cougarton Abbey. This was intended to distract Abed until Cougar Town returns but Cougarton Abbey, like many British shows, wrapped up in a very short time. This led to Britta showing Abed another British show, Inspector Spacetime, seen in the video above. Who knew that there was a British time travel show a year before Doctor Who began?

Community managed to beat out the other Thursday night genre comedy, The Big Bang Theory, at least in terms of genre references. Besides including references to Cougar Town, Downton Abbey, and Doctor Who, the episode also had an  homage to the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Last week Fringe returned. Not only don’t we know where Peter Bishop is, everything else we knew could be changed in this timeline where adult Peter never existed. We already saw that Walter is somewhat different, never leaving his lab. There could be even bigger differences, such as perhaps characters who died in past seasons such as alt-Broyles still being alive.

Steven Spielberg’s latest television genre show, Terra Nova, starts tomorrow. The New York Times has a review. I’m glad that the show takes place in a different timeline, denying Sarah Palin the opportunity to use this as evidence that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; The God Complex; Smithy Returns to Doctor Who; TV Choice Awards; Merlin; Fringe

This week’s episode of Doctor Who, The God Complex, could be named after the monster of the week or the Doctor himself. During much of the episode the Doctor thought it was about a monster which lived off of fear but it turned out to live off of faith. To save Amy Pond he had to reduce her faith in the Doctor. Then he took Amy and Rory home to save them.

There was something wrong with the Doctor during this episode as he liked apples and a Rubik’s cube. The problem is that in The Eleventh Hour the Doctor hated apples and in Night Terrors he hated Rubik’s cubes. Could we be seeing two different Doctors as we go into the season finale in two weeks in which it appears that one Doctor does die?

Will this really be the end of Amy and Rory as companions? Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have signed on for next season, but the speculation is that it will be in a more part-time role as opposed to being the main companions. There is a report that makes it look like the Doctor is returning to where he dropped them off in the Christmas special.

Next week James Corden fills the role of a temporary companion as he did in last season’s episode, The Lodger. Corden co-wrote and acted in the British sit-com, Gavin and Stacey. Here is Corden offering to be a sperm donor for Gavin.

The BBC has released the official synopsis for the season finale, The Wedding of River Song.

As the Doctor makes his final journey to the shores of Lake Silencio in Utah, he knows only one thing can keep the universe safe – his own death – in the concluding episode of this series of the time-travelling drama. But has he reckoned without the love of a good woman?

Doctor Who fans can also enjoy an extra helping of the Time Lord’s adventures in a special, one-off mini episode written by schoolchildren in Doctor Who Confidential on BBC Three tonight.

The Doctor is played by Matt Smith, Amy by Karen Gillan and Rory by Arthur Darvill.

Doctor Who won for Best Family Drama and Karen Gillan won for Best Actress at the TV Choice Awards. Sherlock won for Best New Drama.

Merlin returns to BBC1 on October 1. Trailer above.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6vUO97fZmc&feature=player_embedded

Another trailer for Fringe above. Fringe returns on September 23 to ask, and perhaps answer, the question, “Where is Peter Bishop.” It also looks like Lincoln Lee is back.