SciFi Weekend: Peter Bishop Returns to Fringe; Doctor Who News; Big Bang Theory; Star Trek; Tricia Helfer

This week’s episode of Fringe would have been of value in providing more insight into Walter’s past experimentation, but the episode had a far bigger development with the return of Peter Bishop. Fringe went without Peter just long enough for us to see a time-line where he did not exist as an adult before having him return this week. While often the audience is in the dark with regards to what is going on in genre shows of this nature, we now have a situation where the audience understands far more than the characters on the show, who are bewildered by this mystery person who knows about them.

John Noble discussed his role this season:

It’s just been so amazing to see a completely different Walter. What’s been your favorite version of Walter to play?
Goodness me, I’ve had so many versions of him to play. I think this is number eight! It’s been fun … the thing I’ve liked about this season is it’s given me a chance to establish a relationship with Olivia, Anna Torv‘s character, which I hadn’t really had the chance to before. We’ve had some beautiful scenes together. And, of course, some great stuff with Astrid …

People were so worried that Josh Jackson’s Peter would never be “saved.” But now — he’s back!
Josh has not gone anywhere, he never did. What we’ve done is a story plot. We took one of our principle characters and now we brought him back in through a different door.

He also has said (not surprisingly) that Walternate will be back.

Lance Reddick has given some hints as to what to expect now that Peter Bishop is back:

Actor Lance Reddick says that when Peter Bishop returns to the Fringe universe later this season, the series won’t be going back to the status quo of the first three years.

Reddick tells TV Guide that Peter (Joshua Jackson) will reappear after being erased from time, but will remain a stranger to his friends and family.

“It really is as though he never existed,” he says. “So when he shows up claiming all these things and knowing all these things, it’s really freaky.”

Reddick added that his own character Broyles will struggle to trust Peter upon his return. “Broyles’ attitude is that it’s possible what he’s saying is true, but the last place I’m going to go is to believe him, at least at first,” he revealed.

However, he added that Peter will earn “more and more trust” as the season continues. “It has to reach a point where there’s so much validity to the information that he has and the way that he helps, that over time, he’s given… more and more freedom to operate, work and help.”

Here is an extended interview with Matt Smith and Mark Gatiss

Den of Geek has some information from Steven Moffat on the future of Doctor Who:

Firstly, he’s confirmed that Amy and Rory aren’t in this year’s Christmas special, although they will be back in the next series. He’s a little more coy as to the future of River Song, saying, “That’s dependent on Alex Kingston”.

As for the show in 2012, and why it’s being pushed back, Moffat says that, “The truth behind the delay next year is: why are we killing ourselves and risking compromising the show, in order to go out in the middle of summer? I’m sick of it. I’m sick of standing in the blazing sunshine, with a barebecue fork in my hand, knowing that Doctor Who is coming on any minute”.

Seemingly confirming that the show won’t return, post-Christmas special until next autumn, Moffat says that, “Six o’clock on a sunny Saturday is the middle of the afternoon, whereas six o’clock on a winter or autumn Saturday is dark and exciting” (elsewhere in the book, it does imply that some episodes will be screened in 2012, reiterating that 14 episodes will still be produced).

As for the 50th anniversary of the show, Moffat teases that it’ll be “Epic, huge, massive, indulgent… all your treats at once”. He adds that “I guarantee you it’s going to be the best year ever to be a Doctor Who fan. We’re going to be in production for longer than ever, just to do everything that we intend to do”.

Doctor Who was a big winner at the TV Choice Awards on October 12, winning as Best Family Drama. Karen Gillan won as Best Actress. Steven Moffat’s other show, Sherlock, won as Best New Drama.

There was an even bigger Star Trek reunion last week than was billed.  Big Bang Theory had the return of Wil Wheaton along with an appearance by Brent Spiner.  DC Fontana and David Gerrold were also in the background at Stewart’s party.

Seth McFarlane wants to reboot Star Trek for television. Star Trek always worked best, in terms of storytelling, as a television show as opposed to a movie. McFarlane questions whether Paramount is interested, preferring the big dollars of blockbuster movies, “But I’d love to see that franchise revived for television in the way that it was in the 1990s: very thoughtful, smartly written stories that transcend the science fiction audience.”

SyFy is developing a television series based upon The Adjustment Bureau. I have my doubts as to how this would work as a regular television series as the strength of the movie was seeing a couple manage to beat the Bureau’s plans. It is hard to see that dynamic working for a weekly series, and it remains to be seen if it will work to have a series about the Bureau simply succeeding in various tasks on a weekly basis.

Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica has received the staring role in a TNT drama pilot Scent of the Missing.

There were big changes on Merlin this week.

 

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“The Plan” Will Only Be Of Interest To Hard Core Battlestar Galactica Fans

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We kept hearing through out the years that Battlestar Galactica was on that the Cylons had a plan. The television movie of The Plan was released on DVD and Blu-Ray yesterday. The Plan includes many scenes from the series and largely feels like a clip show but in one way it reminded me of the original series. Remember when the original Cylons always missed and nothing went right for them after the original attack? The Plan was much like this.

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The Plan centers around Dean Stockwell’s character, John Cavil (Number One), and to a lesser extent around Tricia Helfer’s character, Number Six.  It begins and ends with the Cavil who was on Galactica and the one who had been on Caprica being thrown out the air lock after being discovered to by Cylons. Caprica-Cavil is questioning whether killing off the humans was a good idea while Galactica-Cavil is revealed in flashbacks to be obsessed with finishing off the remaining humans.

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The original plan was to kill all humans in the attack. The movie shows the events of the first two seasons from the perspective of the Cylons. For the most part we are seeing things we already saw but some details are filled in. For example, we found that when Caprica-Six told Baltar she had a meeting just before the destruction of Caprica her meeting was with Cavil.  While most might see the near extermination of all humans as a success, Cavil had expected all to be killed and his plan was now to finish the job.

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Another aspect of his original plan was to have the final five killed after living among the humans with Cavil expecting them to learn their lesson and realize how horrible humanity is after they are resurrected. Instead they both remained alive and they continued to like the flawed humans.

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During the first two seasons there were a number of attacks on the fleet. Seeing them from the Cylon perspective does provide some additional, but hardly essential, information. Cavil chastised a Five for being easily recognizable with all models looking virtually the same. The Five responded by arguing, “His jacket was burgundy. This is teal.” Cavil gave him something new to wear–a suicide vest, leading to a scene seen on the television show.

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There were multiple attempts to kill of the survivors but, like with the Cylons of the original series, their attempts inevitably failed. The main reason for the failure, however, is one which the original Cylons would not be affected by. In scene later in the movie, another version of Six taunts Cavil for the failures and argues that this was because of love. Caprica Six loved Baltar and her attempt to discredit him failed. Boomer failed to kill Adama because of her love for him. Leoban failed to kill Starbuck because of his obsession for her. Simon, or Number Four, was involved in a plot to destroy a ship which was new to the movie. It failed because of his love for his human family.

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The movie would only be of interest to hard core fans of the show. Many of the events would be totally incomprehensible without having seen them during the regular series. As a stand alone movie it is a failure, lacking a coherent story line of its own. It is a partial success as a clip show, but this year Joss Whedon raised the bar for clip shows with Epitaph One.  Whedon’s clip episode of Dollhouse, also only available so far on DVD, went beyond the original series and gave it additional meaning. The Plan just fills in a few minor gaps. So much more could have been done to expand upon what occurred in the series.

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Just as with the release of the pilot of Caprica on DVD, The Plan contains scenes which cannot appear on television. The scenes with Tricia Helfer playing a prostitute version of Number Six unfortunately are tame enough to air. Early in the movie, after meeting Caprica-Six, Cavil is next seen with Ellen Tigh in a topless bar, where even the bar tender is shown topless. When fleeing after Number Six tried to discredit Baltar there is a totally pointless scene in which they cut through a shower. Even as a scene of gratitude nudity, it did not hold up to the shower scene in Starship Troopers.

Fans of the show will want to see the movie but those who have not watched the entire series would be better off watching the series first. While I was anxious to see this as soon as available as opposed to waiting until it airs, in retrospect there was nothing I couldn’t have waited for. I have not yet checked out any of the special features of the DVD. I did view portions of the Blu Ray version on both 720 and 1080 resolutions and there was a noticeable improvement with the full HD in some scenes, giving an advantage of watching the on Blu Ray as opposed to waiting until it is broadcast.

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SciFi Weekend: Dollhouse and FlashForward Picked Up For Season; Deaths on Heroes and True Blood; Trician Helfer, Grace Park, and Ashley Green

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One frustrating thing about getting involved in a show on network television is that genre shows often do not do well in the ratings leading to early cancellation.  There was news this week about two shows which will at very least remain around for the season. Dollhouse, which almost was canceled after its first season, will have at least thirteen episodes aired this season. Any decision as to whether to renew the show or purchase more than thirteen episodes this year will not be made until after the first thirteen air.

Reached by phone, Joss Whedon (who has a terrible-sounding cold — feel better!) said he’s writing the 13th hour to give fans a degree of closure.

“We’ll definitely have closure, but will leave some doors open,” said Whedon, who’s currently shooting the eighth episode. “When we got our first numbers, which were bad, the first thing [Fox president of entertainment] Kevin Reilly said was, ‘You’ll have all 13,’ which was great. They’re not going to pull the rug out from under us.”

Beckman said DVR results have played a role in the show’s fate, though wasn’t surprised by today’s results.

“It’s one of the reasons that we brought it back; we knew it was DVR friendly,” Beckman said. “We expected to see this, and hopefully we’ll see [the overnight ratings] increase from week to week … with some shows, you have to look at the bigger picture.”

Beckman also humorously characterized deciding the show’s fate as a bit of no-win situation when it comes to dealing with Whedon’s passionate fans.

“If you cancel it, you’re an asshole; if you renew it and then don’t put it back on, you’re an asshole,” he said. “I’m still paying for ‘Terminator.’ ‘Dollhouse’ has a small rabid fan base that in the world of social media seems bigger than it is. We gave them another season knowing full well we were going to burn in hell if we pulled it.”

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Things are looking even better for FlashForward with ABC deciding pick up the series for the full season.

TV Guide interviewed Sonya Walger, who has roles on both Lost and FlashForward. She doesn’t have clue as to when or if she will be in the final episode of Lost. She had this comment on her role on Flashforward:

TVGuide.com: We haven’t seen all of Olivia’s flash-forward. What can you tease about what we haven’t seen?
Walger:
In the flash-forward, the bit that you have seen is that Lloyd [Jack Davenport] gets up from the bed and gets a text message from someone. The person he gets a text message from is very, very unexpected.

TVGuide.com: Can Mark and Olivia’s marriage survive this flash-forward?
Walger:
Who knows? I think it’s completely fascinating that just the ghost of this might be what undoes their marriage, or it might be what strengthens them and keeps them together. It might be the tension of it alone [that] drives Mark to drink. It’s such an interesting idea that just the threat of something might be what leads you towards it. It may well be that they get to a breaking point and then say, ‘No, this isn’t happening to us. We’re going to make this work.’

TVGuide.com: Do you have any personal belief in fate?
Walger:
I don’t really. The word fate doesn’t really mean much to me in some ways. I think we make our own. Minute by minute you decide who you are and who you’re likely to be. You make the choices hour by hour, just in the present. I don’t believe there’s some roadmap laid out that we’re headed towards.

TVGuide.com: Give us a nice tease for what’s coming up for Olivia.
Walger:
She’s going to be forced quite soon to deal with whether or not you can change the future. She keeps being reminded — evidence keeps being presented all around her — that you can’t change it. Every time she thinks she’s seen the last of Lloyd and that she’s managed to avoid it, he keeps coming back.

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Watch With Kristin reports that there will be a major death on Heroes. It will involve a male who was part of the original cast, and may or may not be one of the four in the picture above.

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True Blood has been picked up for a third season:

While the rollercoaster relationship of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) remains front and center, Ball revealed that several supporting characters will be sharing even more of the spotlight. “Definitely Eric has broken out and is a big important character now. Jessica and Hoyt are still trying to deal with everything that happened to them, and Arlene and Terry are going to have a little bit more of a life and more of a presence on the show.”

There’s also room for guest stars, like Evan Rachel Wood’s vampire queen of Louisiana. “She’ll be back,” promised Ball. “Maybe Zeljko Ivanek, who played the Magister in Season 1 – he might be back. And we do have a lot of fun new characters.”

Sam Trammell, who plays the hapless but heroic bar owner/changeling Sam Merlotte, added that Season 3 is “going to explore my relatives and the sort of sketchy, shapeshifter-y people in my family, and that’s going to be more torture for Sam. I’m sure they’re not going to be good people.” But will Sam’s still-burning torch for Sookie also be a source of torment? “Well, I hope he still has a shot with Sookie, but who knows? Probably not.”

Alan Ball has also told TV Guide that at least one character will die next season, which is hardly surprising considering the nature of the show.

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Tricia Helfer and Grace park are on the cover of Maxim prior to the upcoming release of the Battlestar Galactica movie, The Plan. With the movie being released on DVD prior to its showing on television it will be possible to have more explicit scenes as was done in the DVD release of Caprica. Rumor has it that the main nude scenes involve extras in a shower scene. Tricia Helfer will also be appearing in an upcoming episode of Two And A Half Men.

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There seems to be a lot of actresses from genre television shows in movies in magazines this month in addition to the above. For example, Ashley Green of Twilight has a photo shoot in Men’s Fitness.

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SciFi Weekend: Enterprise; The Plan; Landing in LA; Hugo Awards; Rory Gilmore All Grown Up (with Matt Saracen); and Racy Pics of Doctor Who Companions

TrekMovie.com reports on a panel held by Manny Coto and Brannon Braga at the annual Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. While I think there were far more problems with Enterprise to worry about than this, some fans were upset with the way the show ended. The final episode was intended as an homage to the previous shows involving the Enterprise and ended with Will Ryker and Deanna Troi looking back at the events of  Archer’s Enterprise on the holodeck. Braga took the blame for this:

I will take full blame for that episode, for those that didn’t like it. In retrospect, it was a very cool idea, that in the end was a mistake. The concept was was to have Manny do a final two-part finale, but then have a final final episode send a valentine to all of Star Trek over the last eighteen years. We just thought it would be a cool concept to show the Next Generation’s crew looking back, though the holodeck, at Archer’s crew. It is a high concept, but I am not sure it came together.

While the show had many faults, it was finally staring to show some promise in its fourth season when Coto took over as show runner. The show was at its best when it had episodes foreshadowing events of the earlier Star Trek series (which took place after the events of this prequel series).  There was talk of what was planned if the series had survived for a fifth season:

  • Coto wanted to revisit the Mirror Universe on a regular basis with four or five episodes spread through the season as a “mini-series within a series.” Mike Sussman and Coto had discussed places to go with it and it was “big regret” not getting chance
  • The two main things they wanted to do with S5 was the “origins of the Federation” and the “begin whispers of the Romulan War”, and tying those two together
  • No other major villains were planned to be introduced, the Romulans were going to be the big villain, but would have new ones within new ‘mini-arcs’
  • Rick and Brannon thought Future Guy was “probably going to be a Romulan” and would tie into the Romulan War with a future Romulan trying to “instigate” things
  • They wanted to make Shran a regular character

I think spending so much time in the Mirror Universe would have been a mistake unless they had some really fantastic stories for this, but I do like the idea of tying the show into the Romulan war which has often been mentioned as past history in other Star Trek series.  It would have been best to stay away from the temporal cold war, but a brief arc tying it into the Romulan war would have at least provided some rational for that aspect of the series. Of course we’ve now seen another major Star Trek story involving a Romulan changing history in the latest Star Trek movie.

I always hate it when a few days following a major television event a DVD is released with an expanded version. It’s not that I mind paying for the DVD but that after watching a show once there is far too much to do for me to be likely to watch an expanded version of the same show soon afterward. They are doing it the right way with Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. The episode will premier on DVD and Blu Ray on October 27, 2009 including “some great footage that we are not able to show on TV.” The pilot for Caprica has been released on DVD with scenes which definitely cannot be shown on TV. I’m sure hoping that the scenes from The Plan which cannot be shown on television involve Six (Tricia Helfer). An added plus is that, as I do not receive the SyFy Channel in high definition, I’ll be able to watch the show in Blu Ray without waiting until after it is aired for an HD version.

There has been considerable speculation that the bomb which was detonated in the season finale of Lost did work, changing the timeline. In theory if the bomb did work Oceanic 815 would not have crashed and the flight would have landed in Los Angeles. TV Guide reports that Greg Grunberg (of Heroes), who pilot Seth Norris of Oceanic flight 815 in the first episode, has been asked to return to the show. Grunberg’s character did not survive, but would still be around if the plane did not crash. Grunberg says he was given no information as to what they are planning for his character.

There are also unconfirmed rumors that the title of the two hour season premier is LA X. This presumably refers to landing in Los Angeles, but there also might be significance to placing the space between LA and X.

The 2009 Hugo Award winners have been announced:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

The above trailer is out for Post Grad, which is most notable for combining Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls and Sin City) with Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen of Friday Night Lights–what would Julie say?) Rory Gilmore has sure grown up. Besides appearing as a doctor in the series finale of ER, she is on the cover of WWD:

Old posts about Gilmore Girls continue to receive attention, with many wondering what Amy Sherman-Palladino had planned for her final four words to the series if she had not left for the final season.  Here’s one report as to the final four words: “Rory, you were adopted.”

No, don’t freak out. Amy Sherman-Palladino was just joking about this possibility.

Besides the sort of couple of Rory Gilmore and Matt Saracen, there is another couple of interest on television tonight. It took a while to recognize her, but Jemma, Ray’s love interest on Hung, is played by Natalie Zea. She recently played Karen Darling on Dirty Sexy Money. I guess things didn’t work out with Nick (Peter Krause).

Besides Hung, there are two even more significant shows on television tonight. True Blood has been fantastic all season creating a tough choice between this show and Alan Ball’s previous series, Six Feet Under (with cast including Peter Krause) for best show ever on television. The really big even of the night is the start of the third season of Mad Men.

Looking back on the shows mentioned shows how things have changed for broadcast television. It is common for shows on HBO and Showtime to surpass network shows in quality and any list of the best shows in recent years would be dominated by pay cable. Even basic cable is often beating out network television in quality with recent shows including  Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, the various Star Trek series, and Gilmore Girls. Even Friday Night Lights, often considered the best written network series couple seasons, has had to work out a deal with a satelite network to survive.

Since I posted pictures of Karen Gillan, the next companion on Doctor Who, in a bikini last week more scantily clad pictures of Gillan have surfaced on the internet, such as the almost topless one above. Finding on line pictures of The Doctor’s companions is a way in which following the show has changed from the early days of the show when there was no internet. I guess it is only appropriate that this has become commonplace with Steven Moffat taking over as show runner. Steven Taylor, Moffat’s alter ego on Coupling, has noted how the internet was formed to become the world’s largest repository for porn. If someone had a real Tardis the could really create excitement by posting some of the pictures of Billie Piper (Rose Tylor) in her role as Hannah/Belle on Secret Diary of a Call Girl after she left Doctor Who (especially if going beyond the very tame ones in the examples below).

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SciFi Friday Cylon & Cyborg Edition: Battlestar Galactica; Sarah Connor Chronicles; and Sarah Palin, Stepford Veep?

If things remain as busy this election year I should come up with a new title considering how it has been necessary to postpone the vast majority of editions of SciFi Friday until late in the weekend ever since the primary campaign heated up. I can’t get away with ignoring the rest of the news to put out Sci Friday as I often did for much of the day on Fridays before the election campaigns. It also doesn’t help this week that I just returned from vacation, and also remain busier with remodeling portions of my home. I simply cannot be marking SF articles and blog posts to discuss when I’m being dragged around town by my wife to look at tile samples. The new jacuzzi is scheduled for installation on Tuesday and I’m not sure how that will affect my blogging schedule. (Since the master bath still will not have the new floor in and there will not be any tile around the tub yet we might hold off getting much use out of it for a while longer.)

The second Battlestar Galactica movie begins filming on Monday with Edward James Olmos directing. The movie deals with several of the Cylon characters including Tricia Helfer as Number Six, Grace Park as Boomer, Rick Worthy as Simon, Matthew Bennett as Doral and Callum Keith Rennie as Leoben. A pilot for the prequel series Caprica has also been filmed with word to come in the next few weeks as to whether it will be picked up.

The final season of Battlestar Galactica will reportedly resume in January, and will not be postponed until April as some rumors suggest. Door Q has some limited information on the conclusion of the final season  including this potential spoiler in quoting Edward James Olmos:

We’ve found Earth,” he said of the climax of the mid-season finale. “But Earth is nuked. There’s nothing there. What happens in the next 10 episodes takes science fiction in a new direction we’ve never seen before.”

Olmos ended his speech with this reassuring tidbit, given that he has described Galactica’s finale as “brutal” and “not an uplifting story”: “The human race will survive!”

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles returns this week and from reports, such as here, it sounds like there will be major developments from last year, including John becoming more like the soldier he is fated to become and getting a new love interest played by Leven Rambin. Speaking of cyborgs, IO9 speculates that Sarah Palin might be a cyborg, or at least a Stepford candidate, and offers some signs to watch for:

No-One Ever Sees Palin Go Through A Metal Detector At Airport Security. Sure, you can get away with that in Alaska – It’s a different world up there, after all, and the only security they need there are polar bears guarding the check-in desks. But on a whistle-stop tour of the other States, she’s got to be seen going through security at least once, right…? Unless… there are reasons otherwise.

John McCain’s Speeches Start Including Phrases Like “We Need To Invest More Into Medical Technology, Such As Synthetic Skin” Sure, Palin may look good on camera – But how many people have seen her up close and personal? Being on the stump is going to wear out even the best fake skin substitute we have, considering all the handshakes and baby-kissin’ there is to do, after all.

Every Woman In The Republican Party Starts To Look Like Nannette Newman. Or, in the case of Palin herself, the former spokesperson for Overstock.com. But if all female members of the Republican party suddenly start indulging in librarian chic, then it may be time really start to worry. And if they all appear on news reports saying that nothing’s wrong, but if all the women in the audience could come into the kitchen because they have something interesting to show them? Run away.

The VP Debate Ends When Palin’s Head Explodes In A Shower Of Sparks. Look, I’m not saying that Joe Biden can’t talk up a storm or anything, but he’s never made anyone’s head explode in the past. If it happens whenever he and Palin go up against each other, I think it’s more of a sign that something is up with her than a victory for him.

So there it is. The Republicans’ plan to get re-elected will have less to do with issues and more to do with what voters take from candidates, as McCain’s campaign manager has said, but what they take away from the candidates may end up being more along the lines of a robotic replacement wife than previously suspected. It’s a devious plan, but it might just work.

The McCain campaign had another technical problem at the convention beyond choosing an alleged cyborg to run for vice president. Someone assigned to find a background of Walter Reed Hospital wound up using a background of a Walter Reed Middle School, with the principle protesting its use without permission. A school board member also protested with this statement:

Though I am flattered that Senator McCain chose to use a school from my district as backdrop to his remarks at the Republican National Convention, I wished he had checked with me first. As a strong believer in public education, I don’t think the Senator is the most appropriate person to showcase one of the premier schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is unwilling to bring fairness and equity to No Child Left Behind and ensure that schools like Reed get the resources they need from the Federal Government. From what I’ve heard, that’s not a priority for the McCain/Palin ticket

There is a reason for including this incident in the weekly review of science fiction and television which I will get to now. Coincidentally, Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) had a shot of the same middle school (video above) in the scene where he announced his presidential campaign on The West Wing.

Jimmy Smits has changed jobs from president on The West Wing to an assistant district attorney on Dexter. A copy of the first episode of the upcoming third season has leaked out on line (as also occurred with the first episode last season). One of Dexter’s killings goes wrong which leads to his involvement with Jimmy Smits. In addition, the days in which Dexter and Rita’s relationship was based upon neither of them being able to get very close to anyone else are long over, and Debra gets a new hair style.

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SciFi Friday: Torchwood Secrets; Grabbing Tricia Helfer; More Lost; And More Sarah Chalke

This will be an abbreviated edition of SciFi Friday as I’m off on vacation and haven’t actually seen any shows since last week’s installment.

Torchwood begins the two part season finale on BBC America. This is a must see episode which reveals more information on how the various members of Torchwood (prior to Gwen) were recruited–including Jack. (This is one show I’ve seen after downloading it following its BBC airing.)

Doctor Who goes to Pompeii and Spoiler TV has some promotional pictures.

Battlestar Galactica is coming close to ending and Fox has decided to grab Tricia Helfer.

Rumor has it that the producers of Lost are trying to have an additional episode added this season. Presumably this means that the abbreviated season was too short to properly tell the story they have planned. If that is the case, I hope they are successful in getting the additional hour.

Sarah Chalke might be returning for further episodes of How I Met Your Mother, fueling speculation that she might be the girl with the yellow umbrella (a.k.a. the future Mrs. Ted Mosby.) There’s no word as to whether Britney Spears will be returning has her love sick receptionist. Neil Patrick Harris votes no.

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SciFi Friday: Gay SF, Finales, And Hot Post Finale Pics

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Last weekend must have been Gay Science Fiction Television weekend, at least for those who are watching Torchwood on BBC America. They’ve hinted plenty of times that Captain Jack will sleep with anyone of any species or sex. In the second from last episode of the season the rift took Captain Jack back in time where he wound up dancing with and ultimately kissing Captain Jack Harkness. No, he didn’t kiss himself. He got involved with the real Jack Harkness, whose identity he took after the real Jack Harkness was killed during World War II. Got that straight? The first season finale will air Saturday night on BBC America and a week from Monday on HDNet. (I’m having a mini Torchwood marathon, watching Combat on HDNet on Monday, Captain Jack Harness which I recorded from BBC America on Tuesday, and will watch the finale this weekend.)

The second season of Torchwood starts in Great Britain in January and they’ve finally figured out how to reduce the number of Americans who got hooked on the show from downloading it before it airs here. BBC America will start showing the second season on January 26. No word yet on when HDNet will carry the HD version. The second season will include a character from Jack’s past (or more precisely, future). James Marsters will play a criminal time-agent. Freema Agyeman will also appear as Martha Jones but, due to her role on Doctor Who, which is technically a children’s show, she will not be appearing in any scenes involving sex or swearing. Damn it, what a waste.

The other gay relationship of the weekend took place on Battlestar Galactica: Razor (major spoilers in this section). Besides being about Admiral Cain (below right) as billed, much of the story centered around Kendra Shaw (above right). Another key character was Gina (left in pictures above and below), played by Tricia Helfer, who was having an affair with Admiral Cain. Shaw figures out that Gina is a Cylon after seeing Six as part of a Cylon attack on Pegasus. Cain has her tortured, giving added significance when Six ultimately kills her during season two.

We’ve heard many times that “this has happened before and it will happen again” and we hear it again late in the episode. Flashbacks show the original Cylons, including one who says the classic line, “By your command.” It turns out that they were also working on Human-Cylon hybrids, and the original one is still around to warn that Starbuck (below) would lead humanity to their doom. Unfortunately, if this warning is true, this is told to Shaw just before she is blown up.

Torchwood isn’t the only finale to air this week, but unlike the intentionally shorter British series, the American television series which are ending are doing so prematurely due to the strike. This week’s episode of The Bionic Woman was the last filmed before the strike, and many speculate that it will be the last of the series due to declining ratings. There have also been rumors, later denied, that even if the show returns it will be without Katee Sackhoff.

Desperate Housewives has a cliff hanger as a tornado is responsible for the death of at least one cast member (obviously not one of the main four). Another episode has been shot but there is no word when it will air and they might leave the show with the cliffhanger until the full series can be resumed.

Heroes finally got the story moving a few weeks ago, returning to the quality of the first season, but now it is already coming to an end on Monday. There are a number of loose ends, and hopefully Monday’s episode was written to be a satisfactory season finale which wraps most of them up. I assume they would not have started out the season so slowly if they realized how short it would turn out to be.

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If we won’t have any further episodes of Heroes this year, at least we are bound to see many magazines featuring some of its stars. GQ has named Hayden Panetierre (above) the Obsession of the Year.

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Kristen Bell has been chosen as Complex’s Woman of Next Year.

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And, finally, in case anyone missed the big news of the week, Billie Piper will be returning to Doctor Who.

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The Maxim Hot 100: Lindsay Lohan Tops List, Beats Mitt Romney in Unfavorability

Maxim’s Hot 100 list has been released. Some of the women on the shows followed in our television posts are included:

Yunjin Kim (Lost) 98
Ivanka Trump (The Apprentice) 83
Evangeline Lilly (Lost) 68
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) 57
Kristin Bell (Veronica Mars) 46
Moon Bloodgood (Daybreak) 40
Jennifer Garner (Alias) 35
Elisha Cuthbert (24) 25
Ali Larter (Heroes) 6
Jessica Alba (Sin City, Dark Angel) 2

And the winner is Lindsay Lohan, who is being compared to Mitt Romney in other reports. (Comments on a recent post look at the question of whether Romney is hot.) Fewer people know who Mitt Romney is than know who Lindsay Lohan is. The two have similar favorability (in the 20s), but Lohan has almost double the unfavorability rating (41% vs. 22%). I could bring in Lohan’s Disney connection, such as with the remake of Parent Trap. There’s even a fantasy film connection, even if weak, with Freaky Friday as well as a connection with politcal movies in Bobby. But we all know that Lindsay Lohan’s is primarily known for her inability to keep her clothes totally on in public.

(Updated Warning: Viewing of this picture might subject you to reprimand from the Thought Police at The Democratic Daily. View this photo, and think for yourself, at your own risk.)

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SciFri Friday: Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica Previews

J.J. Abrams has confirmed that the script for his upcoming Star Trek movie has been completed and is now undergoing editing. He promises to please everybody:

”On the one hand, for people who love Star Trek, the fix that they will get will be really satisfying,” he says. ”For people who’ve never seen it or know it vaguely, I think they will enjoy it equally, because the movie does not require you to know anything about Star Trek. I would actually prefer [that] people don’t know the series, because I feel like they will come to it with an open mind.”

Abrams has tried to deflect questions about the rumors that the story will deal with a young Kirk and Spock but William Shatner has leaked more information:

William Shatner revealed to SCI FI Wire that the upcoming 11th Star Trek movie will indeed, as rumored, deal with the early years of Capt. James T. Kirk and Spock—and that he will definitely appear in the movie if director J.J. Abrams can find a place to use him. Shatner, who originated the role of Kirk in the original Trek series and several subsequent films, said in an interview that he was invited to meet with Abrams (Mission: Impossible III), who is also co-writing the movie.

“I met with J.J., and they told me they would like me to be part of their film, but they have to write the role,” Shatner said in an interview.

As for the many rumors concerning the sequel’s story, Shatner said that Abrams will explore Kirk and Spock during their Starfleet Academy years. “Yes, we know the story is based on young Kirk,” Shatner said. Up until now, everyone connected with the film has maintained strict silence about the storyline, though rumors have run rampant that they concern Kirk and Spock’s first missions.

As for Shatner’s place in that storyline? “They need to figure out how to put the dead captain in with the young captain,” he said. “It’s a very complex, technical problem of how to write the character in, and I’m not sure how they will solve it.” It sounds as if Shatner may play an older version of Kirk.

There are additional leaks reporting that other characters include Scotty and Christopher Pike, who was Captain of the Enterprise before James Kirk. Reportedly the storyline is not linear, allowing appearances by Kirk as both a young man and by the older Shatner.

Another Star Trek related leak is that there are Klingons in the White House. These are Klingons of the worst type–faux Klingons. See this being revealed on the floor of Congress here. In other Star Trek news, The History Channel will have a show entitled Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier next month, narrated by Leonard Nimoy. As I reported earlier in the week, Stephen Hawking, who once appeared in space on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is now planning to take an actual trip into space.

The Chicago Tribune has another interview with Ron Moore which has some information on Battlestar Galactica after it returns. It’s already been revealed that a major character will die, and much of the information suggests it may be Kara Thrace. An episode to air March 4 will include profound changes in Starbuck, and reportedly Katee Sackhoff is leaving the show. Moore is ambiguous in answering the questions and leaves open the possibility that Starbuck might survive in some form:

As you know, there’s a ton of speculation that a character dies in the second half of the season. [Moore also alluded to an upcoming character death in a December interview.] And right now a lot of the speculation centers on Kara Thrace. Can you address that?

Ron Moore: “Kara is one of the characters some fairly profound events happen to in the second half of the season. There are also other characters that are pretty fundamentally… have fairly earthshaking events happen toward the end [of the season]. But certainly [what happens to] Kara will be one of the most surprising things that’s happened in the history of the show so far. Kara’s one of the key players and I think it’ll really take people by surprise.”

People are speculating that her character dies. Do you not want to characterize it that way?

RM: “I don’t know that I want to say that directly. I think people will have to watch that episode and judge for themselves what happens. I can say that Galactica will suffer a shocking loss in that episode and Kara is a key member of the crew. Certainly if she were not there suddenly, that would shift the parameters of what the show is and what the show is about and who the key players are.”

Tricia Helfer Playboy CoverThe direct to DVD Battlestar Galactica movie planned for this summer is also discussed. It reportedly will bridge seasons three and four but, contrary to other rumors, will only deal with BSG and not the upcoming Caprica prequel. While the Chicago Tribune has this interview with Ron Moore, Playboy has Tricia Helfer as its cover girl this month.

I noted the death of author Robert Anton Wilson yesterday. 10 Zen Monkeys has reposted a selection of rarely seen columns by Wilson.

The International Herald Tribune has an article on new plans to attempt to make a movie version of Atlas Shrugged. It will certainly be a challenge to trim this down to a two hour movie and still be true to the book. An Ayn Rand character is capable of giving a lecture for almost two hours on her philosophical views, often after making love. Obviously none of these can be included without turning this into a mini-series (a long mini-series).Those involved with the present project might have an easier time than those who tried in the past due to no longer having to deal with Ayn Rand. Hopefully they will do a better job than was done with The Fountainhead.

Jack is back this Sunday and finally gets out of that Chinese prison, only to be asked to sacrifice his life to fight another terrorist plot. Of course we know he will survive, as Kieifer Sutherland’s contract extends beyond this season. USA Today has an interesting article on the writing of 24. It comes as little surprise that they make up a lot of the story as they go along. Unfortunately sometimes it shows, but it always remains fun even if it is often necessary to ignore huge holes in the plots.

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Sci Fi Friday: Ron Moore on Religion vs. Humanism in Star Trek and BSG

Interviews with Ron Moore are almost becoming a regular part of SciFi Friday. This week I have some excerpts from an interview conducted by Harlan Ellison:

Ellison: The parallels to current events are obvious; in particular, I think that the analogies to the Iraqi War are very clear. Did the parallels come from you or from some Sci-Fi [Channel] exec?

Moore: Fundamentally, they came from me. I felt, in that first week of thinking about it, that, okay, this is going to deal with 9-11 and a lot of the things we were going through as a society at that moment. It was just part of the premise. It was always going to be in the show, and once we were on that path, it just felt like we were going to keep doing this and we’re going to deal with things that are happening in our contemporary reality, but we were going to view them through a different prism.

The show was never going to be a direct allegory; Laura Roslin was not going to be George W. Bush, and the Cylons were not going to be al-Qaeda. But they were going to share elements. And part of the opportunity of doing a show like this was the opportunity to sort of move the pieces around the game board a little bit and say: “Well, we’ve all experienced this set of events. What if I move this piece over here, and put you over there? How would you feel about it then?”
There was a Sci-Fi [Channel] exec that had a key impact on the show, surprisingly enough. His name is Michael Jackson (no relation to the singer.) He worked for the network, and while I was working on the script for the miniseries, he read a line from Number Six, the blonde Cylon played by Tricia Helfer. She had a conversation with Baltar, and at one point she says, “God is love.” It was just something that I found on the page as I was writing it. And I wrote, and I was struck by it because it’s an odd thing for a robot to say. I liked it, but didn’t really know what it meant, and it wasn’t a focal point of the script.

But when Michael read the script, one of his notes was: “That’s fascinating. You already have elements of al-Qaeda and religious fanaticism hovering around the edges of what you’re doing. Why don’t you embrace that and go for that element because they don’t typically do that in Sci-Fi.” And my first reaction was: “Oh my God! Nobody ever gives you that kind of note, especially not an executive.”

So I just ran with it, and it became one of foundational elements of the show: the religious conflict between the two civilizations; the monotheism of the Cylons and the polytheism of the Colonials; what is God, what is human, and what does it mean to be alive. All of these metaphysical ideas and religious concepts sort of groove from that one line in the teleplay.

Ellison: My next question is about religion. The Cylons are the monotheists; they believe in God and are good Christian folk. And the crew, who are our heroes, are polytheists like the ancient Egyptians or Greeks. It was always interesting, but until recently there was never a third element; now the venue has changed and there’s a supernatural quality. A spiritual force is at work. Can you codify that?

Moore: I sort of felt that as the religious aspects of the show were becoming more common and started to dominate plot lines and certain character attributes, you sort of had to make a choice at some level about whether that was all bullshit or not. Does it mean something? Is all this worship just about talk and about made up religions that don’t mean anything? Or is there the possibility of something greater? These are the existential questions. Is this all that I am? Is there something more? Why am I here?

If all the characters on the show are asking themselves those questions, I felt that on some level I wanted to give a hint that maybe they’re not all fools. That maybe there’s some greater truth that they’re all struggling toward, that none of them can see perfectly. So I started to feather in ideas that could not be explained by rational means. While never really coming out and saying that God is behind the curtain, I wanted to have elements of it.

One of the things that I had noticed working on Star Trek, and in science fiction in general, was that mainstream science fiction tended to shy away from this as a subject. Gene Roddenberry felt very strongly that in the future of Star Trek, religions were all gone; that in 300 to 400 years mankind had evolved beyond it; that religions were all superstitions and were things of the past. It was a very secular humanist idea, which I don’t have a problem with philosophically, but I didn’t believe as a storyteller that in just a few centuries we would discard this fundamental thing that had informed our societies for so long.

So, I just felt that in this world in Galactica, which had nomenclature like Apollo and Athena and all these names of the Greek gods, it beggared the imagination to say that they didn’t really believe in it. And if they did believe it in, I wanted to give it some validity and show that there is something out there.

Variety reports that Battlestar Galactica executive producer David Eick is wroking on Them, an SF alien-invasion series for Fox Apparently if Fox News has been unsuccessful in leadilng the Republican invasion of Earth, their entertainment division will turn to a fictional invasion.The Spider-Man 3 trailer is available here. If you prefer DC to Marvel, the sequel to Superman Returns is expected for 2009.

By now most Lost fans are aware that they have to wait until next year for the season to pick up again and find out how the cliff hanger is resolved. Will Jack really ignore the Hippocratic Oath and allow Ben to die? Will his gamble work and allow all three of those captured by the others to escape? Fans of Jericho are about to be faced with a similar cliff hanger. The first half of Jericho‘s season will end November 29 with a cliffhanger, to be continued February 14. One good thing about this plan, for someone such as myself who hasn’t watched yet, is that this gives me time to watch the season to date on line and then follow when it returns. Having ways to catch missed shows is an excellent idea. The networks are learning that they must make some changes in how they present shows if they are to reduce their declining viewership.

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