SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Outlander; Extant and You’re The Worst Finales; Pineapple Mystery From How I Met Your Mother Solved; Gillian Jacobs Gets New Show; Supergirl; Suicide Squad; Star Trek

Doctor Who Time Heist

Saturday night featured The Wedding on Outlander while Doctor Who combined at least two old plot ideas. On the surface, Time Heist is a classic Ocean’s Eleven bank robbery, plus throw in a little of The Bourne Identity. It was obvious something big would happen after the Doctor said, “It’s just a phone Clara, nothing happens when you answer the phone.” Suddenly there were four people in a room with their memories wiped (with their consent) and placed in a position where they had no choice but to go through with robbing a bank. (“I’m an amnesiac robbing a bank.”) The Doctor led the gang. Why? “Basically, it’s the eyebrows.” Plus the Doctor has experience as a thief, dating back to when he stole the TARDIS.

But this is Doctor Who, not Bonnie and Clyde. In the end it turned out not to really be a bank heist at all, but a plan arranged by the Doctor and initiated with a call from the future from the head of the bank, Director Karabraxos, who took the Doctor’s phone number on a note saying he is a Time Traveler, with the advice, “You’ll be old and full of regret for the things you can’t change.” In a way, Director Karabraxos is this episode’s Sally Sparrow, as Doctor Who repeated an idea from Blink and Listen, with the events of the story being a self-contained wibbly wobbly timey wimey time loop. Instead of “Don’t Blink” the warning is “Don’t Think” when The Teller is around. It is not entirely clear how the Architect/the Doctor, managed to set this all up, or why it had to be this complex, but this week’s plot holes are still not as bad as Robot of Sherwood’s golden arrow.

To pull of the non-heist, the Doctor and Clara had the assistance of two recruits, Psi and Saibra . I wouldn’t be surprised they show up in a future episode (perhaps in their past), like the Paternoster Gang. Once again Doctor Who also took advantage of paying homage to its past. When Psi reviewed the universe’s worst criminals, several old Doctor Who villains were included. The new, less flashy Peter Capaldi Doctor also looked back and mocked earlier regenerations played by Tom Baker and Matt Smith: “Big scarf. Bow tie. Bit embarrassing.” Plus the episode began with answering a phone, which led to a reminder of the still-unanswered question of who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number in The Bells of Saint John.

Above is the Doctor Who Extra for Time Heist.

The Heist is the last episode which leaked out before the start of the season, so the only spoilers out now are those officially released. Next week we return to where it all began for the Doctor on earth, and Clara’s current place of employment, as the Doctor becomes The Caretaker at Coal Hill School. Time Heist did little to advance the storyline between Clara and Danny, but presumably this changes next week. For someone who has spent so many years traveling through space and time, often on his own, the Doctor sure has a tough time figuring out what to do when Clara and Danny are out on a date. For someone who has spent so much time on earth, he also has a difficult time understanding both women and dating:

The Doctor : Are you taller?
Clara : Heels.
The Doctor : What, do you have to reach a high shelf?
Clara : Right, got to go, going to be late.
The Doctor : For a shelf?

Outlander The Wedding

The consummation of the marriage was far more important on Outlander than the wedding this week. Sam Heughan discussed filming the sex scenes with The Hollywood Reporter:

Those who have read the first Outlander book have been anticipating Jamie and Claire’s wedding episode for a while. Was this an episode that you circled on the calendar? How important was it to get the intricacies of the wedding and the aftermath right?

The wedding is a big episode for Jamie and for Claire. There are many big moments we have to get right and going back to the flogging that was another big one that we have to mark right. How we get from one to the next the writers have a bit more freedom in the way we portray it. Yeah, we got to get it right. But the subject matter — Caitriona [Balfe] and I have never done anything like this before, so it was a bit of a learning curve. We were lucky that the director, Anna Foerster, was good. We did a lot of rehearsals. We discussed how we wanted it to work. When you watch the episode there is a progression in the way that Jamie and Claire get to know each other. Their relationship grows quite quickly so by the end of the episode, you can see that they’re basically making love, it’s not just consummating the marriage. Their friendship and their relationship is really bonded, but is also left in a place where Claire is reminded of her husband, Frank, back in the future. That leaves a wonderful discord at the end of the episode.

You mentioned that you had never really done an episode like this before. How comfortable were you with the nudity? 

Caitriona and I had already filmed a scene from episode 10. When we were filming, we shot two episodes ahead so we did a scene after [the wedding] — a big breakup. It was very physical and lustful. To do this somehow felt easier, but more intimate because this was more about discovering each other. Yeah, we were both slightly nervous, which I think helps. In the scene, it’s part of them finding each other. We worked it out in rehearsals what we wanted the viewer to see and not see and how we wanted it to be portrayed. Again, we don’t want [the sex] to be gratuitous but it’s very important for the characters and what happens to their relationship.

We get a sense, too, of Jamie’s naivete when it comes to sex, which is a source of humor. Plus, it’s a nice role reversal to see Claire being the one who is more experienced sexually rather than Jamie, who hasn’t reached that level yet.

In most TV dramas and films, it’s normally the other way around. It’s the guy [with more experience] than the woman, so it’s kind of turned on its head. Jamie’s very willing to learn and Claire is a very good teacher. (Laughs.) He couldn’t ask for better really. But it’s wonderful that they do have that kind of relationship. It’s very physical; there are no barriers. That’s what made their bond even stronger. I think he grows up very quickly and learns a lot, but it is lovely his humor. He’s learned a lot from looking at farmyard animals [which] is slightly disturbing. (Laughs.)

Now Claire has two rings and two husbands, and after all that sex finally remembers that she is supposed to be trying to return home to her first husband.

Extant-Ethan-about-to-explode

There were finales of some summer shows this week, including Extant and You’re The Worst. Extant‘s end was not spectacular but did a decent job of concluding the story. The entire series could have been better if a few hours had been cut (and those which aired were better written). The show did tie together the two big story lines of Halie Berry’s impregnation in space and the artificial intelligence kid. I was wondering if they were going for some sort of high concept ending, showing two possible successors to the human race, or at least do more to question what it means to be human. Instead they tied them together in a simpler manner, having Ethan be the one “person” immune to the alien’s mind control as he is not  human. The anti-AI terrorist plot with Odin played into this as it created a new dilemma when Ethan decided to warm himself up to appear human to override the computer control on the spaceship Halie Berry was on.

The series was billed as a single season show, but we have seen such shows turn into multi-year series as with Helix and Under the Dome. I doubt this will happen due to Extant‘s poor ratings, but they left open the possibility with both the alien kid and Ethan’s’s mind still around at the end. While these loose ends were clearly intentional, presumably to leave open the possibility of a sequel, I suspect other loose ends were more from sloppy writing. For example, Molly and Sean should both have been infected by the alien spores, and now infecting others on earth. We also don’t know what happened to Yasumoto. Did he wind up dying after running out of that alien substance?

That’s too many questions. I don’t want anyone to get the idea of doing a second season to attempt to answer them.

You're The Worst Finale

While Extant was seriously flawed, You’re the Worst was the best, including the season finale. The finale was the perfect ending for what has turned into the best new sit-com in years. If the show is not renewed, it turns the ten episodes into what would feel like an excellent romantic comedy movie if watched in one sitting–which I would recommend for those who have the time and have not seen it yet–even if you don’t normally like romantic comedies. If you are above romantic comedies, think of what would happen if Dan Harmon wrote one. The show has very sharp writing and excellent performances by the cast, led by Chris Geere and Aya Cash, which manage to explode many of the clichés of the genre and television in general, while being extremely funny.

The episode shows how the series has begun to create its own universe, rather than relying on the stars alone. It provides what could serve as and end for the stories of both the main characters and side kicks (who in one episode even went meta and recognized their role). Besides altering the relationships of the various couples on the show, we saw the consequences of Gretchen’s habit of plugging her vibrator into a chain of Christmas lights, as well as what happened to the cat in the book store. While it works as a conclusion for the series, preferably this season finale will be a lead in to a second season, having introduced some changes in the situation of the characters to keep things fresh.

After You’re the Worst, I fear that the upcoming season’s new romantic comedies, such as A to Z and Manhattan Love Story, will seem quite lame.

how-i-met-your-mother-pineapple

How I Met Your Mother is another sit-com which developed its own universe, and a complex mythology. One mystery which was never solved occurred when Ted woke up with a hangover and no memory of the woman in bed with him or how a pineapple wound up on his nightstand. A deleted scene from the entire series DVD explains this. BuzzFeed has the scene, with the explanation involving the Captain who placed pineapples outside his homes: “It’s an old sea captain’s tradition, you put a pineapple on your porch as a symbol of hospitality. I keep one here and one outside my townhouse in the city.” Drunk Ted picked up the one outside his townhouse in the city. I imagine it was a matter of time, as this scene both resolves a long-standing mystery and contains a threat that fits in so well with the dynamic between Ted and the Captain.

Gillian-Jacobs

Gillian Jacobs of Community appears on the upcoming season of Girls. Working with Judd Apatow led to her being cast on a new show he is producing for Netflix:

Netflix has given an eye-popping two-season commitment to a comedy series from Judd Apatow and “Girls” alum Lesley Arfin that offers an unvarnished take on a modern relationship.

“Love,” produced by Legendary TV, will star “Community” player Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust in the lead roles of Mickey and Gus, a couple in the throes of experiencing the “exhilarations and humiliations of intimacy, commitment, and other things they were hoping to avoid.” The series is targeted for debut in 2016.

“Love” garnered Neftlix’s biggest upfront commitment to an original series since drama “House of Cards’ went on the market in 2012 and landed a two-season order. Since then, the netcaster has built up a solid roster of original series.  Netflix has ordered 10 episodes for “Love’s” first season and 12 for the following season a year later.

It sounds like it might be more serious than You’re The Worst, but I wonder if it can do as well in providing its take on a modern relationship.

CBS has decided to pick up Supergirl.

The Suicide Squad, seen last season on Arrow, is being considered for a movie.

Zachary Quinto says that filming might begin on Star Trek 3 in the next six months.

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SciFi Weekend: Gallifrey Falls No More, A Review of Day of the Doctor

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The Day of the Doctor accomplished Steven Moffat’s goal of presenting an homage to the past but primarily looking towards the future. Just as real life isn’t neatly divided into sixty minute episodes (or serials in the case of older Doctor Who), the 50th anniversary episode combined two different stories. Both had the common theme of the Doctor finding a way to defeat an invasion and prevent destruction to either London or Gallifrey. The episode  won a Guinness World Record award for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama, being shown in ninety-four countries.

There were many tributes to the past beyond those I mention here. We saw the original opening, starting in black in white just as the series began. Clara was teaching at Coal School which Susan attended in the first episode. After several mentions of Queen Elizabeth I over the years, we saw the Doctor marry her, believing she was actually a Zygon shape shifter in disguise. (No word on what River Song thought of this). A UNIT agent (or her Zygon copy) wore Tom Baker’s scarf.  David Tennant repeated his classic line, “I don’t want to go” and John Hurt said “reverse the polarity” in a tribute to Jon Pertwee. The episode included all thirteen Doctors, including John Hurt and Peter Capaldi, even if some were primarily from old clips and CGI. The episode ended with an ambiguous appearance from Tom Baker as the Curator, who might be the form which the Doctor takes after he retires. Billie Piper returned, but as Bad Wolf Rose in order to allow for her presence without altering Rose’s story.

The Doctors stopped a Zygon invasion of earth by literally bringing about the concept of a veil of ignorance, as the shape-shifting Zygons and members of UNIT did not remember which they were, giving motivation to both sides to negotiate a fair deal. From there the three Doctors tackled an even bigger problem, saving Gallifrey from the Dalek attack during the Time Wars by some way other than destroying them all. This was ultimately accomplished due to Matt Smith and David Tennant’s version of the Doctor having had more time to work on the problem, and the joint effort of thirteen Doctors.

We have now seen all of the regenerations. The webisode (posted here) The Night of the Doctor, showed the regeneration of Paul McGann to John Hurt.  The regeneration of John Hurt was present near the end of The Day of The Doctor but unfortunately Christopher Eccleston declined to appear to complete the scene. Considering how little effort it would have taken to film the regeneration scene, his refusal to participate in the anniversary episode just makes him look more petty, regardless of what problems he had with the previous crew.

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Although Steven Moffat had said that the numbering of the Doctors would not change, it is hard to see justification for not including John Hurt. Moffat recently said:

“I’ve been really, really quite careful about the numbering of the Doctors. He’s very specific, the John Hurt Doctor, that he doesn’t take the name of the Doctor. He doesn’t call himself that. He’s the same Time Lord, the same being as the Doctors either side of him, but he’s the one who says, ‘I’m not the Doctor.’ So the Eleventh Doctor is still the Eleventh Doctor, the Tenth Doctor is still the Tenth…

He adds: “Technically, if you really counted it, the David Tennant Doctor is two Doctors, on account of the Meta-Crisis Doctor [in Journey's End]… It’s not a matter of counting the regenerations, but of counting the faces of the Time Lord that calls himself the Doctor. There’s an anomaly Doctor slotted in somewhere, that’s all. In the script to The Day of the Doctor, Matt’s Doctor was called the Eleventh, and David’s was called the Tenth, so the numbering stays exactly the same – and we call Peter Capaldi the Twelfth Doctor.”

Of course we know that Moffat lies, and  perhaps he said this to avoid giving away the ending to The Day Of The Doctor. Now that we have seen the full story of  John Hurt’s Doctor, it is harder to justify not counting him. Despite being called the Warrior, we have now seen rather standard regenerations both into him and into the subsequent Doctor. Taking a different name hardly makes sense as a way around the regeneration limit. Even if his story ended with being responsible for a heinous act, this should not change the numbering.  Now that this act was reversed, there is even less reason to exclude him. There was reference to “all thirteen” on Gallifrey. The Daleks recognized him as the Doctor. If we want to go meta and try to limit the official Doctors to those who had their own shows, this would contradict the convention of including Paul McGann who, before this month, appeared in only a single movie. Surely John Hurt’s appearance in the 50th anniversary episode, along with a brief scene in the previous episode, is as significant as an essentially stand-alone move.  The BBC even reposted the 50th anniversary promo picture with John Hurt included (above).

The episode has significant ramifications for the future. The Doctor now has a new goal, to find Gallifrey. I wonder if this will be a season-long McGuffin like was done previously with The Key To Time serials in the Tom Baker era. This could provide a new emphasis from the show now that Amy Pond is gone and the mystery of Clara has been resolved, getting away from the stand-alone episodes of last season. A limit of twelve regenerations, meaning thirteen versions of the Doctor, was previously established, and we have now seen reference to “all thirteen” Doctors. The search for Gallifrey opens up one of several possible solutions as it is a safe prediction that Doctor Who will not end with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Perhaps saving Gallilfrey will lead to the Doctor being given another set of regenerations solving this issue. There has been precedent for the Time Lords having this power.

Before we see how this rewriting of the mythology affects Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, there remains the Christmas Episode in which Silence will Fall and we return to Trenzalore (trailer above).

For those disappointed in not seeing cameos from more actors who have played the Doctor, we do have the video below which was written and directed by Peter Davison. “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot” stars  Peter Davison,  Colin Baker,  Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann attempting to make it into the 50th anniversary episode. In a way they have accomplished this. I think that this video, along with The Day of the Doctor,  and An Adventure in Space in Time should be counted as parts of a set honoring the 50th anniversary.

As I was working on my impressions of the episode, Blogator Who posted the official comments from Steven Moffat. Some portions of the interview follow:

I asked Steven for his thoughts on Peter Davison’s special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
“I loved it. I love it, I’m in it! I’m the villain as far as I can see! [Laughs] Absolutely adorable. It was actually my idea to do that, I had bumped into Peter at a party and he said, ‘I’m going to do this little fan video about us all trying to get into the 50th. Do you mind and would you be in it?’ And I said I’ll give you a budget and a camera crew and some time and why don’t you make it for real? Make it for us? It solved a problem for me. I wanted all The Doctor’s properly involved, if they were willing, as best they could.

It maximises what you can do with Sylvester [McCoy] and Colin [Baker] and Peter because they’re not the same people were, all those years ago. You get to see Colin Baker playing Colin Baker which is much more fun that seeing him trying to do a performance that no longer suits him, frankly. And the same with Peter and the absolutely charming Sylvester McCoy, who is an absolute hero. It was brilliant, I love The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, it was gorgeous.

Regarding Billie Piper in The Day of the Doctor Steven stated:
“I thought the story of Rose, which was beautiful, was done. I didn’t want to add to it, I didn’t feel qualified to add to it. That was always Russell’s [T Davies] story. The way Russell ended it in The End of Time was perfect. I didn’t want to stick another bit in. It would be wrong.

But we did want Billie Piper, one of the absolute heroes of Doctor Who, back in the show without interfering in the story of Rose Tyler. I think I might of spoiled something if I had done that.  Billie represents the rival of Doctor Who, more than anyone else. It’s all about Billie, it’s her show for two years. It’s really startling watching The Runaway Bride and you’re going, ‘Where is she? Where is she? Where is the star of the show?’

On the 2013 Christmas Special, Moffat commented, “It’s a proper finale to Matt Smith, it’s the story we’ve been telling since he put the bow tie on. A lot of stuff we’ve left hanging, we tie up there. And it’s Trenzalore!” At a panel at the Official Doctor Who Celebration, including Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Steven, they revealed that the world “bubbly” will appear in the finale for The Eleventh Doctor.

 

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Star Trek, Batman, Star Wars, JK Rowling, SHIELD, Sleepy Hollow, Utopia, Breaking Bad

Doctor Who

The BBC has released the above poster for the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, to be named The Day of The Doctor. It will be the second from last episode staring Matt Smith, also staring David Tennant and John Hurt.

Steven Moffat discussed filming the final episode with Matt Smith at the TV Choice Awards, where Doctor Who won for Best Drama Series. David Tennant won the Best Actor award for his role on Broadchurch. Miranda Hart of Call the Midwife won for Best Actress. (Jessica Raine,who plays Jennie Lee on Call the Midwife, played Emma Grayling in the Doctor Who episode Hide and has a role in the upcoming movie on the development of the series, An Adventure In Space And Time.)

Peter Davison

Peter Davison will be appearing in the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who. While he has confirmed the appearance, he states he is unable to give any specifics. My suspicion is that he has a cameo role in the special but does not reprise his role as the Doctor unless the story can give a plausible explanation for showing a former version of the Doctor who has also aged. Pictures appeared on line of Tom Baker in his scarf starting rumors that he would also appear but it turns out it was to film a skit for another show.

startrek-lensflare-spock-tsrimg

In follow-up of the controversy I mentioned last week, TrekMovie.com has posted another opinion arguing that Star Trek is Not  Broken. Those who are not happy with how J.J. Abrams is handling Star Trek might be happy to hear that he will not be directing the next Star Trek movie now that he will be busy with Star Wars. I fear that this won’t change many of the problems cited by fans but at least it might mean less lens flare.

There has been even more controversy over the choice of Ben Afflect to play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. The CEO of Warner Brothers defended the choice, describing this Batman as “kind of tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for a while.”

Besides the upcoming Star Wars trilogy, Disney is going to take advantage of buying the rights by putting out additional movies. Variety reports that they will be origin movies. There will be a lot of Star Wars as “one ‘Star Wars’ trilogy film or ‘origin story film’ would also appear on the release schedule each year, starting with the seventh installment in the ‘Star Wars’ saga that J.J. Abrams will direct and Disney releases in 2015.”

Warner Brothers is returning to a recent major source of income for the studio. J.K. Rowling is going to write a new movie series taking place in the Harry Potter universe. After recently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I think she does have a better future in writing such movies then detective novels, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but I read several far more entertaining novels over the summer, and there are plenty of similar mystery series already out there.

Grant Gustin of Glee will play The Flash on Arrow, and potentially on a spinoff show.

marvels-agents-of-shield-shield

Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gawker reports that some of the scripts were not very good and Joss Whedon had to rewrite them. The web site for the series is now on line.

The Detroit News reviews another new genre show, Sleepy Hollow. More on the show at TV Line.

ABC is working on an alternate reality series which sounds interesting. The show, entitled The Thirteen, takes place in an alternative present day in which the colonies did not win independence from England and are still fighting the English for independence.

Paul Krugman and John Amato both recommend Orphan Black, which I certainly agree with.

utopia

Utopia writer Dennis Kelly has discussed conspiracy theories, over population, and the second season of the series:

There’s going to be a second series of Utopia isn’t there?

There is. It’s currently being written. It’s being filmed in two months [speaking on the 22nd of August]. I’ve got two months before the first block. You film it in two blocks so episodes one, two and three, and then four, five and six. Marc Munden who directed one, two and three, and really set up the look for Utopia – and that’s what people talk about a lot when they talk about Utopia – he’s a brilliant director, more like a filmmaker than a TV director really, and he’s fantastic to work with. He’s come back and he’s going to do the first block again. He has a much more involved role in the whole series, which is great.

Can you give us any ideas about what series two might contain?

We’ve got a very odd first episode, which people are either going to really like or really say ‘what the fuck did you do that for?’ and I’ve got no idea what the reaction’s going to be. Some of the characters are coming back, you’ll definitely see Arby again, and Jessica. There’s a lot of people dead unfortunately and a lot of people will die [laughs].

Do you have a finite end for Utopia in mind?

I think I do, I think so, yeah. Not necessarily a good one. [Laughs].

Luc Besson is interested in doing another movie in the world of The Fifth Element.

Trailer for Last Days on Mars posted here.

The cast of Dexter teased the finale.

Joking Bad, Jimmy Fallon’s parody of Breaking Bad, can be viewed above. The series ends this month. A spinoff is being considered based upon Saul Goodman before he became Walt’s lawyer. The Hollywood Reporter lists Saul’s top moments.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Stamps; Star Trek Into Darkness; Fringe; 2013 in SciFi; Alison Brie as Captain America

The top stories of the week in genre and cult television were the Christmas episodes of Merlin, Doctor Who, and Downton Abbey, which I previously looked at here.

Baker Stamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Smith Stamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Royal Mail will be releasing a set of stamps in March to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. All eleven Doctors are present. The Tom Baker Matt Smith stamps are above. The full set, along with a Dalek stamp from1999, can be seen here.

John Harison Star Trek Into Darkness

Korean interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek Into Darkness had a few interesting comments, such as this from Benedict Cumberbatch on his character, John Harrison:

He is an extraordinary terrorist of sorts. He uses himself as a warrior with weapons and close hand combat to just reap devastation and havoc wherever he goes and a trail of destruction follows him. What is interesting from an acting point of view — beyond doing the stunts and choreographed fight sequences….was also the psychological warfare that he acts out. He has an incredible ability to control people’s minds to his bidding and make them – well confuse the radar of their loyalties and prerogatives, so that was great fun. So it was a great mixture of intense acting scenes and action scenes.

J.J. Abrams decided against directing the next Star Wars movie:

There were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek, and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things. I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.

Genre television shows are frequently downloaded or streamed due to different broadcast days and times in the United States and the U.K. There will be no need to download the series finale of Fringe. It will be simulcast by Fox and Sky1.

Wonder what will happen in 2013?I09 reviewed events from 2013 in science fiction books, television shows, and movies.

Allison Brie as Captain America

I’m not sure what the story is behind this picture of Alison Brie as Captain America. Most likely it is Photoshopped, but I wonder if Community is doing their take on The Avengers.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who News; Merlin; Inspector Spacetime; Saturn Awards; Mitt Romney and Porn

The trailer for the upcoming season of Doctor Who is out (video above). Dinosaurs on a space ship! Then there’s the question:

Who killed all the Daleks?”
“Who do you think?!”

An analysis of the trailer looking at multiple screen grabs (including the above one of the Doctor in Times Square) can be seen here. This certainly suggests that ate least part of episode 5 takes place in modern day New York.

Christopher Eccleston, the 9th Doctor has been cast to play the villain Malekith The Accursed in Thor: The Dark World.

Tom Baker has posted this tribute to Mary Tamm on his website:

The dreadful news of Mary Tamm’s death amazed me. I had no idea she was ill. We got on terribly well and I admired her wit and style and warmth. We used to meet at different Who conventions and sometimes had time for a little chat. I remember meeting her at Heathrow in the 1st class section: her section, of course. She was flicking through a magazine and sipping a beer: the epitome of cool style.

When we first worked together her tales of her background (she’s from Estonia) kept me very amused. I think they spoke Estonian at home. She used to do an impression of her aunt, I think, who had been an opera singer. She had a marvellous trick of rapid asides which often had nothing to do with the main story but which convulsed us. I tried to copy this trick behind her back but it eluded me as most tricks have eluded me all my life. And that she is dead seems incredible.

Fate is capricious and quite indifferent to our fears. Lovely girls: Elisabeth Sladen, Caroline John and now Mary Tamm: all dead. And here am I closing in on eighty and all I’ve had was whooping cough! It’s not fair, is it? Actually, I also have a creaky knee. And probably a creaky brain.

I never met Mary’s daughter and hardly ever met Marcus, her husband. But I send them from the bottom of my old heart sincere condolences. To have known her consoles me a little: poor darling Mary, poor us.

A fan did quite a good job of colorizing this scene of the first Doctor, showing the final scene between the Doctor and Susan from The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

The Oxford Dictionaries have added Whovian (source)

 Whovian Pronunciation: /ˈhuːvɪən/
Definition of Whovian

noun

informal

a fan of the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who: as a fan from way back, Barrowman is well aware of just how passionate Whovians are about everything ‘Who’

Digital Spy has news on the upcoming season of Merlin:

Colin Morgan (Merlin), Katie McGrath (Morgana) and Angel Coulby (Gwen) spoke to Digital Spy about the new episodes, Gwen’s reign as Queen and the return of the dragons.

Morgan told Digital Spy that his young wizard character is in a “ruthless mode” in the next series.

“Merlin is becoming more ruthless, because he is becoming more solid in his beliefs,” said the 26-year-old. “He’s seeing things in a whole new way.”

Mordred – now played by Alexander Vlahos – will also return to the series, with McGrath suggesting that he and Morgana have an “unbreakable” bond.

“You can’t tell the story of Morgana without Mordred,” she explained. “They are interlinked, they are entwined, and from the very first episode [of series five], you see that.

Morgan added that the reappearance of Mordred is “the biggest threat there’s ever been” to Camelot and the reign of Arthur (Bradley James).

“Anyone who knows the Arthurian legend knows what Mordred is destined to do… so that is the biggest threat, that is the biggest force,” he hinted.

The next season jumps ahead three years with the characters now older.

Upon posting the above poster, Dan Harmon blogged “Holy crap this is really really really cool.” Harmon, who already received a script deal from Fox after being fired from Community, has now received a second deal from CBS.

Season two of The Hour doesn’t air until November but it is also receiving some publicity in the United States. Trailer for the series above.

Parenthood is getting a sixth actor from Friday Night Lights.  So far Minka Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, Derek Phillips, Angela Rawna and Jeff Rosick have appeared, and now Matt Lauria, who played  Luke Cafferty, has been cast.

The Saturn Awards came out last week. The full list is here with some of the awards listed below:

FILM AWARDS

Best Science Fiction Film:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Fantasy Film:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Best Horror/Thriller Film:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Action/Adventure Film:
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Best Actor:
Michael Shannon
Take Shelter

Best Actress:
Kirsten Dunst
Melancholia

Best Supporting Actor:
Andy Serkis
Rise of the Planet of the Apes 

Best Supporting Actress:
Emily Blunt
The Adjustment Bureau

Best Performance by a Younger Actor:
Joel Courtney
Super 8

Best Director:
J.J. Abrams
Super 8

Best Writing:
Jeff Nichols
Take Shelter

TELEVISION AWARDS

Best Network Television Series:
Fringe

Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series:
Breaking Bad

Best Television Presentation:
The Walking Dead

Best Youth-Oriented Television Series:
Teen Wolf

Best Actor on Television:
Bryan Cranston
Breaking Bad

Best Actress on Television:
Anna Torv
Fringe

Best Supporting Actor on Television:
Aaron Paul
Breaking Bad

Best Supporting Actress on Television:
Michelle Forbes
The Killing

Best Guest Star on Television:
Tom Skerritt
Leverage

Finally in entertainment news, Mitt Romney received the endorsement of porn star Jenna Jameson, who reportedly is worth $50 million, despite his history of supporting restrictions on pornography. Jameson explained her endorsement by saying, “When You’re Rich, You Want A Republican In Office.” If she was smarter she would understand that it is possible to make more money with a thriving economy when Democrats are in office.  While Mitt Romney has promised to keep porn off of computers, fortunately Mitt Romney’s promises don’t mean very much. Video report follows:

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Girl Who Waited; Torchwood Blood Lines; Shada Completed; Michigan Beats Notre Dame 35-31

It was a great weekend for television, with an excellent episode of Doctor Who, the season finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day, and a Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game which not only once again wound up being settled by four points scored in the last thirty seconds, but also had three touchdowns in the last seventy-two seconds. In the final second Notre Dame also lost the ball and I believe that if the Michigan player pushing it into the end zone had actual possession it would have been counted as a fourth touchdown in the last seventy-two seconds.

The Girl Who Waited was the economy episode of Doctor Who, having less of the Doctor and minimal use of other cast. While not as great as another Doctor-lite episode, Blink, it was an excellent episode with an interesting timey-whimey idea. A planet with a plague, which killed beings with two hearts, including Time Lords, in one day, set up a Two Stream facility. Those infected with the plague lived in one time stream where they could live out their entire life in one day, while family could watch them from the other time stream over twenty-four hours. After their arrival to the planet,  Amy ran back to the Tardis to get her phone. The Doctor, who so far thought they were just at a recreational facility, had the first of two great lines during the episode: “I bring you to a paradise planet two billion light years from Earth and you want to update… Twitter?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht6wBPidk4g&feature=player_embedded

When Amy caught up, she pushed the wrong button and wound up in the wrong time stream. She had to beware of being killed with kindness as medications from this planet would be fatal to her. There were certainly a number of holes in this setup, and a bit of timey-whimey technobabble to try to explain it, but that didn’t prevent enjoyment of the show. After all, as the Doctor explained, “Come on Rory, it’s hardly rocket science, it’s just quantam physics.”

This setup provided for an interesting look at the character dynamics, and gave Karen Gillan the opportunity to play an older version of herself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj9Dcrr4AJo&feature=player_embedded

It was not surprising to see Amy Pond become bitter about her raggedy man after being left behind for thirty-six years. It was logical for her to prevent the Doctor and Rory from saving the younger version of herself, making her disappear, but in the end there were stronger arguments to the contrary. There was never any doubt that Rory would choose the younger version of Amy over the older, but Rory did realize the cost as he told the Doctor, “You’re trying to turn me into you.” We also saw again that the Doctor lies. I bet that will be important when we see how the Doctor avoids his impending death.

The episode appeared to be totally stand-alone (with it continuing to be strange that Amy and Rory so easily gave up on the idea of rescuing Melody as an infant). I wonder if a show which dealt so strongly with the relationship between Amy, Rory, and the Doctor might wind up having ramifications to be seen later this season.

The Blood Line, the finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day, was a pretty good episode, but still it didn’t have enough payback for a ten-episode story. Considering that there is no real explanation, they did a fair job of explaining how the Miracle came about, using Jack’s immortal blood. I wasn’t clear on why this would make Jack (and cancer cells) mortal, or why they brought Oswald Danes along. The episode did leave a couple of plot threads open, including the tree families moving on to their next plan, with Jilly Kitzinger helping with public relations. A transfusion of Jack’s blood allowed Rex to recuperate as quickly as Jack. I hope that this is a temporary effect of the transfusion, possibly aided by occurring at the same time as the Blessing was reset. Otherwise it wouldn’t be realistic to have Torchwood continue with some many people close to Jack getting killed.

It was a good idea to take a  high concept and attempt to make a single-season arc. Children of Earth worked as a third-season story over five days, but ten episodes was too long this year. The writers tried to get around this problem by having a number of subplots. This did not work as the show was set up around solving a single problem, and the subplots often felt like needless distractions.

Sooner or later I also hope to see Torchwood reestablished as a real organization with additional characters. Torchwood might work better modeled somewhat after how Dexter or Fringe have been handled. I would like to see a fifth season in which Torchwood is reestablished. Episodes could deal with building a new team and solving some individual mysteries, while also having a “big-bad” to contend with all season. That way it is not necessary to come up with a monster of the week every week, but individual stories could be mixed with the season-long arc.

We 

We know that Doctor Who will have another thirteen-episode season, but it won’t start until next fall. The future of Torchwood is unknown, despite a tag at the end of the final episode in Australia saying Jack will be back in four months. There is, however, hope of seeing another Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who.  Shada, the 1980 Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who written by Douglas Adams, has finally been completed, with a couple of twists:

Given that it has been three decades since the cameras last rolled on the story, the actors involved would never have been able to convincingly play the same age, so Shada has been completed via animation, using only their voices.

The other twist is that this hasn’t been paid for by the BBC, nor even their commercial arm 2|entertain (responsible for the Doctor Who DVD releases). The animation has been privately funded by record producer and fan Ian Levine, and as things stand, the wider public might never get to see it.

Which isn’t Levine’s intention, of course; now that Shada has been finished, he’s hopeful an agreement can be reached with 2|entertain and the story released into the public domain.

Wait a minute. The Doctor and Romana are Time Lords and would hot have aged. The real problem is that they have regenerated into different forms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doctor Who Regenerates The Impossible Astronaut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen Gillan Amy Pond Doctor Who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moffat said: “We will bring back the Daleks.

“But there will be lots of different kinds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So Long, Sarah Jane–Elisabeth Sladen Dies Of Cancer

Time Lords might live forever but their companions eventually die. The news came earlier today from the BBC:  “It is with much sadness that we can announce Elisabeth Sladen, the much-loved actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC’s The Sarah Jane Adventures, passed away this morning. She was 63.”

Sladen, pictured above before taking on the Daleks in 1974, played Sarah Jane Smith, companion to the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, and the fourth, played by the legendary Tom Baker. Despite strong competition from more recent actresses such as Billie Piper and Karen Gillan, Elisabeth Sladen is widely considered to be the best actress to  have played the Doctor’s companion.

Sladen was first seen as Sarah Jane Smith in this scene in 1973:

She remained on the show for three of the best years in its history, ultimately leaving the Doctor (who had regenerated since she first met him). Here is Sarah Jane’s last scene  with Tom Baker before leaving as a regular on the show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thjWMWzUa30&feature=player_embedded

While sadly Elisabeth Sladen will not be here for Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary in 2013, she did return to appear on the twentieth anniversary show in 1983, The Five Doctors.  She also appeared in a 1993 Children in Need special and in a 1995 independent film.

Sarah Jane returned to Doctor Who in  the 2006 episode, School Reunion. David Tennant greeted her with the simple but memorable,” Hello Sarah Jane.” Here is a report from Doctor Who Confidential which includes clips from the episode:

Elisabeth Sladen appeared opposite David Tennant in three more episodes. She had a major part in the two-part season finale for the fourth season, The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. She also appeared briefly in David Tennant’s final episode, The End of Time. Sladen  stared in a recent spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures where she also had the opportunity to appear with the current Doctor, Matt Smith. This makes seven Doctors who have had at least one appearance with Sarah Jane. Four seasons of The Sarah Jane Adventures have aired and a fifth was in production. There is no word yet as to what will happen with the fifth series.

Digital Spy has some reactions to Sladen’s death:

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who executive producer::
“There are a blessed few who can carry a whole television show on their talent and charisma – but I can’t think of one other who’s done it quite so politely. I once showed my son Joshua an old episode of Doctor Who, in which Lis appeared. “But that’s Sarah Jane,” he said, confused “In old Doctor Who. From years ago. How come she always look exactly the same?” It’s not a comfort today, of course, but children will still be saying that 50 years from now.”

John Barrowman, actor:
“Elisabeth Sladen Matriarch of Dr Who – I loved my time on the Tardis with her. I am proud to have worked with such an icon of the sci fi world. Your Dr Who family are very sad and will miss you and your beautiful smile. RTD (Russell T. Davies) called me this morning when I woke up. She lived in my flat in Cardiff when she was filming SJA. She was a delight. Can’t tell you how sad I am. I wanted to let you know I got the news as a lot of you were concerned. I’m off to chill, I hope you understand. Will tweet this weekend in PS. jb.”

Mark Gatiss, writer:
“‘A tear, Sarah Jane?’ Farewell to the wonderful, irreplaceable Lis Sladen. The best.”

Nicola Bryant, Doctor Who companion Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown:
“I’m so sorry to have to say I’ve just had a call to say Liz Sladen has died. It’s too much to take in, but it’s true. How tragically young.”

Neil Gaiman, writer:
“Lots of reports that Lis Sladen, Sarah Jane Smith, has passed away. It looks like the Lis Sladen news is official. Big sadness. Rest in Peace.”

Alexander Armstrong, actor and comedian, voice of ‘Mr Smith':
“Just heard news of Elisabeth Sladen’s death. A wonderful actress – devastating news for all Doctor Who and Sarah Jane fans. Sad for Mr Smith too.”

Noel Clarke, actor:
“Not the best news to come home to, But I hope that Elisabeth will RIP. As someone who knew her, I always found her lovely. she’ll be missed. #SARAHJANESMITHLIVES because Elisabeth Sladen made her Great. -Liz, you were awesome and will be missed. (no more to be said tonight) NC.”

Paul Cornell, writer:
“Very sorry to hear about Elisabeth Sladen, a great actor, special to everyone of my generation and a whole new one.”

Tracy-Ann Oberman, actress:
“Oh no! Just on Twitter and saw sad news about Liz Sladen. I knew she was ill, but what happened. Rip Sarah Jane. You were THE assistant. #dw”

Stephen Fry, actor/writer:
“What terribly sad news about Elisabeth Sladen – her Sarah Jane was part of my childhood. Deepest sympathy to her family.”

Jonathan Ross, broadcaster:
“RIP Elisabeth Sladen aka Sarah Jane . Sad news.”

Finn Jones, actor (Santiago Jones in Sarah Jane Adventures):
“Saddened to hear Elisabeth Sladen has passed away. A truly beautiful, talented and wonderful woman – a pleasure and honor to work with.”

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Immortal, But Could Have Been a Woman; Next Season To Begin In US; Sherlock To Air In US

Tom Baker Doctor Who

This week I’m taking a break from the currently airing shows and will catch up on some Doctor Who news, extending to another work by current Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat. Incidentally, note how much of the Doctor Who news comes from leading newspapers in Great Britain, where events on the series often is big news.

Doctor Who has been able to continue since 1963 by having the lead character be able to regenerate should he die, paving the way for another actor to play the role. In a 1976 episode, The Deadly Assassin. the fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker) revealed that he can only regenerate twelve times. The writers never suspected that he could use up all thirteen lives. Now that we are up to the eleventh Doctor and it appears the show will continue for several years, most fans have probably assumed that they would work in a way around this limitation.

With current show runner Steven Moffat being a big fan of the original episodes, I had hoped Moffat would stick to canon here (not that the show has ever been that consistent) and have the Doctor find a way around this limitation. There is precedent for this, as the Time Lords once gave the Master a second set of lives for helping the Doctor. Instead of trying to find a way around the limitation, the show is simply ignoring the old limitation. The Guardian reports:

Fans have always thought that the 13th doctor would be the last, thanks to a 1976 Doctor Who episode, The Deadly Assassin, featuring Tom Baker as the Doctor in his fourth incarnation, and revealing for the first time the regeneration limit. But a passing comment in a children’s television programme later this month is set to rewrite history and cast the Doctor, iconic hero of the world’s most successful and longest-running science fiction series, as immortal.

The moment comes in the CBBC spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which stars former companion Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. Matt Smith, who plays the current Doctor Who, guest stars in a two-part episode called The Death of the Doctor, to be screened on October 25 and 26. While the Doctor and Clyde Langer, played by Daniel Anthony, are in the process of outwitting spooky vulture undertakers the Shansheeth, Clyde asks how many times he can regenerate. The Doctor indicates that there is no limit. The action continues.

Fans of the show have been expecting an official moving of the goalposts for some time, but it was anticipated as part of the Christmas special, rather than in an after-school slot on the CBBC channel.

Back in 1976, 12 regenerations must have felt like a safely distant number to pluck from the ether. Now, however, with Smith playing the character in his 11th incarnation, circumventing the rule has begun to feel rather urgent. As JK Rowling hinted last week, once a hero has conquered the world, it is hard to put him away for good: we may also see an extension to the seven-book Harry Potter franchise, despite its very final ending and Nineteen Years Later epilogue.

All of the regenerations have been male, but at one time there actually was consideration of having a female Doctor according to The Telegraph:

Sydney Newman, who devised the long-running science-fiction show when he was head of BBC drama in the 1960s, was asked to help after the show suffered a slump in ratings in the 1980s and was taken off air temporarily.

He told Michael Grade, then the controller of BBC One, that the ailing series could only be saved by regenerating the Time Lord into a Time Lady.

Mr Newman criticised the direction the show had taken, but insisted that it could be revived by turning the lead character into a heroine.

Had the advice been accepted, actresses who could have been considered for the role include Frances de la Tour, Joanna Lumley and Dawn French.

Instead, the BBC played safe and replaced the incumbent Doctor, Colin Baker, with another male actor – Sylvester McCoy, a little-known children’s entertainer.

The idea included a transition period, returning Patrick Troughton to the role.

Mr Newman urged the controller to temporarily reintroduce Patrick Troughton, a former Time Lord, to steady the TARDIS and pave the way for the most radical change in the show’s 23-year history.

He wrote: “At a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman.

“This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Women because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore.

“Given more time than I have now, I can create such a character.”

He called for the female time traveller to be accompanied by a trumpet playing schoolgirl in “John Lennon-type spectacles” and her graffiti-spraying “yobbo” elder brother.

The plan was not tried, and the full idea wouldn’t have worked as Patrick Troughton died six months after the letter was written.

Matt Smith Doctor Who

The show took years to recover, with Matt Smith being the third Doctor since the show was revived. The duration of Smith’s tenure has been a subject of rumor ever since he started playing the role.  Nobody knows how long he will stick around, but he has expressed interest in doing a movie (although the BBC says this is unlikley for budgetary reasons):

Matt Smith has revealed that he would be thrilled if the BBC decided to make a Doctor Who movie.

The actor, who joined the show at the beginning of the year, admitted that he would love to star in a film adaptation of the BBC One show.

He told the Daily Star Sunday: “I’d definitely be up for staying on if they did a film –
hell yeah. I would be thrilled if there could be a movie version – I want them to do it.

“There is something brilliantly televisual about Doctor Who but I think it could definitely work as a film.”

The sixth season (since the show was revived) will start with a two-part episode taking place in the United States in the 1960’s. It will be written by Steven Moffat and Alex Kingston will be returning as River Song. The BBC reports:

Scenes will be filmed in the Utah desert for a story set in the late 60s in which the Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves on a secret summons to the Oval Office.

The episodes have been written by new series boss Steven Moffat and co-produced with BBC America.

Production starts in Cardiff this month with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

Alex Kingston will reprise her role as River Song.

Moffat said: “The Doctor has visited every weird and wonderful planet you can imagine, so he was bound to get round to America eventually.

“And of course every Doctor Who fan will be jumping up and down and saying he’s been in America before. But not for real, not on location – and not with a story like this one.”

It has been announced previously that series six has been split into two blocks, with the first airing on BBC One in spring 2011 and the second block showing in autumn 2011.

Sherlock

Another BBC series by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will be premiering in the Unites States this month (although I bet most Doctor Who fans have already found ways to get a hold of the BBC episodes). Masterpiece Mystery on PBS will start airing Sherlock on October 24. Three episodes (and an unaired pilot) were done for the first season, with the show renewed for a second.

The series updates Sherlock Holmes stories to modern times but manages to remain faithful to the originals. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the title role, also seems remarkably like Doctor Who, leading to rumors he might be given the role should Matt Smith leave. He lacks a Tardis, but does have a companion. In this case Dr. Watson has a blog instead of a journal. Sherlock especially seems like The Doctor in the first episode, A Study in Pink, which is based upon early story in which Sherlock Holmes was more eccentric. I’ll avoid talking about any specifics of the stories which have not yet aired in the United States.

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SciFi Weekend: Seven Doctors; Star Trek Backs Hope & Change; The Week’s Shows; and Candidates Meet SciFi

All the surviving actors who have played The Doctor are reportedly going to appear together in a Doctor Who will return for a special mini-episode for the Children In Need charity night. Last year Peter Davison appeared with David Tennant in Time Crash (video here). Comic Book Resources has some rumors about Doctor Who, including Tom Baker returning to a role on the show and a possible name for the next Doctor:

My last couple of Doctor Who leaks were fairly solid — Neil Gaiman to write 2010 “Doctor Who” and Tom Baker returning to the series proper in an unnamed role. Both have been bubbling under ever since. The next one is not so tied down. It’s still rather up in the air. But it’s quite a possibility.

The sixth series of “Doctor Who” (2011) will star Paterson Joseph as The Doctor.

Previously playing Roderick in the “Doctor Who” episodes “Bad Wolf”/”Parting Of Ways,” Joseph is known for fine upstanding and terribly-well-spoken-dontcha-know roles as Johnson in “Peep Show,” the Marquis De Carabas in “Neverwhere,” Space Marshall Clarke in “Hyperdrive,” Lyndon in “Green Wing”…

…and more importantly Benjamin in “Jekyll.” Written and produced by upcoming “Doctor” Who showrunner, Steven Moffat.

If true, it’s a great call on Moffat’s part. A damn fine call. Paterson has a very British Authority approach to many of his characters, comparable with Jon Pertwee. It’s not a traditional choice, but then neither was Christopher Eccleston. And, like I say, it’s bloody brilliant.

The upcoming Star Trek movie made the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Considering how far Star Trek has fallen in recent years, the reboot by J. J. Abrams is probably our best shot of reviving the series. Still, I have reservations about how he will go about it. These reservations were increased by this passage:

Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of a Star Wars guy. ”All my smart friends liked Star Trek,” he says. ”I preferred a more visceral experience.” Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount’s offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ”that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.” That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ”We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek's] appeal,” says Weston. ”Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn’t going to work.”

Star Wars type action would do better at the box office, but that is not what Star Trek is about. If Star Trek is turned into this type of mindless entertainment it is not worth reviving. Still, having a major movie might lead to a revival as a television series. Star Trek has always been at its best as a television series, and a revived series has a far better chance of being true to Gene  Roddenberry’s vision than an individual movie. There is also some hope for the movie as the paragraph after the one quoted above goes on to say:

Abrams says he was also drawn to the project because he believed in — and wanted to evangelize — Trek‘s unabashed idealism. ”I think a movie that shows people of various races working together and surviving hundreds of years from now is not a bad message to put out right now,” says Abrams, whose infectiously upbeat energy and disdain for cynicism are among his most marked attributes.

There are some spoilers regarding the plot of the movie:

Star Trek‘s time-travel plot is set in motion when a Federation starship, the USS Kelvin, is attacked by a vicious Romulan (Eric Bana) desperately seeking one of the film’s heroes. From there, the film then brings Kirk and Spock center stage and tracks the origins of their friendship and how they became officers aboard the Enterprise. In fact, the movie shows how the whole original series crew came together: McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoë Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). The adventure stretches from Earth to Vulcan, and yes, it does find a way to have Nimoy appearing in scenes with at least one of the actors on our cover — and maybe both. The storytelling is newbie-friendly, but it slyly assimilates a wide range of Trek arcana, from doomed Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to Sulu’s swordsmanship to classic lines like, ”I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” More ambitiously, the movie subversively plays with Trek lore — and those who know it. The opening sequence, for example, is an emotionally wrenching passage that culminates with a mythic climax sure to leave zealots howling ”Heresy!” But revisionism anxiety is the point. ”The movie,” Lindelof says, ”is about the act of changing what you know.”

The message of Star Trek is also tied into this year’s presidential election:

Is the world ready again for Trek‘s optimistic vision of the future? Some involved with the film suspect the presidential election may have a dramatic effect on how Star Trek will be perceived. ”This is a franchise that offers hope for unity — and so does Barack Obama,” says Quinto, who has stumped for the Democratic presidential nominee. ”When this movie comes out, and Obama is president, hopefully there will be some parallels.” Perhaps, but the elder Spock knows that moments of unity can be fleeting. ”My only regret is that the movie can’t come out sooner,” Nimoy says. ”I think the world could use it. Don’t you?”

Life on Mars hasn’t been doing too well in the ratings but has been receiving excellent reviews. The second episode, like the first, was based pretty closely on the BBC episode, with the show reportedly going to begin diverging more. The potential science fiction aspects of the show are maintained by having Sam consider the various possibilities as to how he is now living in the past. His theories include the eventual explanation in the BBC version, which I won’t mention to avoid spoiling the series. For those who are aware of the explanation on the original, there have been reports that the American version might wind up with a different explanation. This week’s episode also also included brief connections between past and present, from messages in the clouds to a small robotic character.

We had a major advance on the plot, and a major revelation, on Heroes. It appeared that  Linderman (Malcolm McDowell) hired Daphne (Brea Grant) to steal the formula, except it turned out that Maury Parkman (Alan
Blumenfeld) was responsible for both this appearance of Linderman and Nathan Petrelli’s visions of Linderman. This was orchestrated by Arthur Petrelli (Robert Forster) who is on the opposite side of the battle from Mama Patrelli.

The second half of the season will be entitled Fugitives and will add a new member to the cast–Zeljko Ivanek, who won an Emmy for Damages. He will appear as a character named the Hunter who presumably wind up hunting the other heroes, making them fugitives.

On Fringe, Olivia Dunham has visions of John Scott (Mark Valley). While his appearances turned out to solely be in her mind (perhaps similar to Six in Baltar’s mind on Battlestar Galactica.) While only being in her mind, his messages had too much bearing on current concerns to be written off as mere hallucinations. Walter provides a possible explanation that a previous experiment connecting her to Scott’s mind may have imprinted her with his consciousness, experiences, and thoughts.

Is a few brief news items, nine more episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have been ordered to complete the season this year. Mad Men has been renewed for a third season. The concluding ten episodes of Battle Star Galactica will begin airing on January 16.

And finally, there are science fiction connections to the candidates this year. Gawker reports that Sarah Palin  appears in Tales From the Crypt (cover above.) We also learned of a science fiction/comic connection for Barack Obama. At the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Obama joked, “Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”

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