SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Hugo and Emmy Awards; Tony Soprano’s Fate; Next Season on Arrow and Fargo; Finales of Falling Skies, True Blood, Defiance, and The Last Ship; Karen Gillan’s Hair; Rebooting Fox Genre Shows; Libby Masters vs. Betty Draper; American Gods; Jennifer Lawrence, and much more

Doctor-Who--Into-the-Dalek

Peter Capaldi’s second episode of Doctor Who was much better than the first. Into the Dalek was literally about going into a Dalek, Fantastic Voyage style. Once the reference was made, and we saw antibodies within the Dalek (for an unclear reason), I was surprised that Steven Moffat didn’t take the opportunity to recreate the attack of antibodies on Rachel Welch’s body with Jenna Coleman. Despite the Doctor’s strange criticism of Clara’s body at one  point in the episode, Clara did serve an important role as the Doctor’s moral compass, which was disrupted by the shock of seeing a good Dalek. The episode also served as the introduction of the next companion, and romantic interest for Clara, Danny Pink. There is no doubt that Clara and Danny will overcome the Doctor’s newfound objection to having a soldier join him, which certainly contradicts all the time he spent with UNIT.

While I knew the phrase was coming from advanced review, I was surprised by the context in which Resistance is Futile was used by the Dalek. There are certainly many comparisons to be made to the Borg, and I think Doctor Who did a better job than Star Trek The Next Generation with an episode about a good Dalek or Borg. Into the Dalek was a strong stand-alone episode, and now there is no doubt that Missy and “Heaven” will be a recurring storyline for the season. This time, instead of the person who the Doctor was fighting (and possibly pushed to his death), it was someone fighting with the Doctor who was seen in “Heaven.” My suspicion is that this will turn out to be something such as Missy saving people just before imminent death who are in the vicinity of the Doctor as opposed to actual “Heaven,” but even if I am right on this a lot of questions remain.

Doctor Who Extra (video above) gives behind the scenes information on the filming of Into The Dalek.

There have been two major sets of awards in the past couple of weeks, the Hugo Awards and the Emmy Awards. Doctor Who had five nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) but an episode of Game of Thrones won the award:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
  • Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
  • An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)

Gravity won for long form among these nominees:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  • Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
  • Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

The full list of nominees can be found here, with the winners listed here.

While the Emmy Awards generally goes with the safe bet, such as repeatedly giving the award for best comedy to Modern Family, there is at least some realization that genre is ignored. While Tatiana Maslany was snubbed for a second year for her work on Orphan Black, the snub was at least acknowledged in a skit. They finally discovered Sherlock, even if it meant awarding Emmys for the weakest of its three seasons. It was a pleasant surprise to see Steven Moffat up on stage, and he also provided some vague hints about season four in post-award interviews:

Sherlock was a big winner at the 66th Primetime Emmys, taking home three awards (to go with the four the show earned at last week’s Creative Arts ceremony), including trophies for stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

In celebrating his win for writing for a miniseries/movie or dramatic special, executive producer Steven Moffat dropped some hints backstage about the British drama’s anticipated fourth season, which begins production in January 2015 — the same time Doctor Who will also start filming.

Moffat was confident that the new season would be even more gasp-inducing than the previous year, which ended with an unexpected resurrection of a character presumed dead.

“We have a plan to top it — and actually I do think our plan is devastating,” he teased. “We practically reduced our cast to tears by telling them the plan. Honestly, Mark [Gatiss] and myself are so excited with what we’ve got coming up, probably more excited than we’ve ever been about Sherlock. … Honestly I think we can [top the last season].”

Moffat spoke of the surge of Emmy recognition the show has received in its third year.

“We’ve won outside of America, which is a place,” Moffat deadpanned. “We were just starting to think that that phase of our lives was dying down because as shows get older they don’t win as often — just like people. We’re delighted that we’ve made it here and hopefully this gets more people watching. That’d be great.”

He remained mum on when the new episodes would be premiering. “When they go out is up to the BBC,” he said. “And I am their loyal servant. I simply do what they ask me.”

Moffat reassured that the creative team behind the show will continue returning to Sherlock, no matter how busy they may be with other projects. “What’s happening with Sherlock is unusual,” he admitted. “We will keep coming back to it.”

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I am thankful to Vox for finally settling in my mind how The Sopranos ended, even if they totally botched the story. When the finale first aired, after I realized that my cable hadn’t gone out, I interpreted it as an intentionally ambiguous ending. Sure, going to black could be what happens to Tony if shot, but I didn’t accept this interpretation as the scene was not from Tony’s perspective. The scene concentrated on many things Tony did not see, from the actions of others in in the coffee shop to Meadow attempting to park the car outside. If I wanted to think that they finished the meal and then Tony showed Meadow how to parallel park, this interpretation was as valid as any other. I saw the real meaning as that Tony would always face threats to his life. One of the people in the coffee shop might have shot him, or he could have been suddenly killed at some other time in the future. There was even a chance he could remain alive despite all the threats.

I was satisfied with this interpretation until I heard a report that David Chase had said that there was a definitive meaning to the finale. Perhaps, as happened again this week, the person reporting put too much meaning into what he said during an interview. However, if there was an answer to the question as to whether Tony Soprano lived in the ending, then I could only see this as meaning I was wrong. If limited to Tony living or dying, I thought it would be easier to making an argument that the ending meant that Tony had died.

Then Vox had an interview with David Chase last week in which it reported that Chase said that Tony had lived. I actually found this to be very unsatisfying as it lacked any further explanation. Soon afterwards, David Chase issued a statement that what he said in the interview was misconstrued:

A statement issued by Mr. Chase’s publicist, Leslee Dart, said that the Vox.com writer “misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview.”

“To simply quote David as saying, ‘Tony Soprano is not dead,’ is inaccurate,” the statement continued. “There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true.”

The statement added that Mr. Chase had said “numerous times on the record” that answering the question of whether “Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.”

“To continue to search for this answer is fruitless,” the statement said. “The final scene of ‘The Sopranos’ raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”

This leaves me comfortable in returning to my original interpretation, more confident than in the past that I’m just not in denial over a scene intended to show Tony Soprano as getting killed.

The new promo for season three of Arrow above will make Oliver/Felicity fans happy. A digital comic will fill the gap between the second and third seasons.

Fargo season two will concentrate on strong women characters.

Falling Skies showrunner David Eick answered questions on the season four finale.

The series finale of True Blood really isn’t worth talking about. It is a shame that they couldn’t put together something more meaningful to end the series with.

The writers on Defiance did try harder. They used a formula which often works in combining elements of a season-long story in each individual stand-alone stories. Unfortunately it didn’t work very well. It just didn’t work for me to have an alien girl being used by a supercomputer intelligence to destroy New York City and the rest of the planet, and then end the crisis by having her kiss a boy who was a minor character during the season. When the show runners previously talked about expanding the show to New York and space I expected something more sensible, and more than a quick scene at the end of the season.

I was more impressed with The Last Ship. While not an A-list, must-see show, they did a good job of keeping the show entertaining. When I heard that they had renewed the show for a second season, my immediate impression was that this would mean they would not find a cure no matter how many episodes gave them a lead. I am glad I was wrong on that. If the first few episodes reminded me of Battlestar Galactica at sea, the return home to a country destroyed by plague now makes me see the show more like Revolution or Jericho (hopefully doing a better job than Revolution). So far there is nothing ground breaking. Who didn’t see the remnants of the Unites States government as being the enemy and realize they were walking into a trap? Still the show does provide solid entertainment.

Last week’s episode made my happy I stuck with The Leftovers. The episode was a flashback which explained key points, such as why a family which did not appear to have lost anyone was affected so much by the rapture-like event.

Karen Gillan filmed the shaving of her hair for Guardians of the Galaxy (video above)

Joe and Anthony Russo will be directing the sixth season premiere of Community. The Russo brothers are also working on Captain America and say the third movie will be more like Winter Soldier than the first installment (which is a good thing).

What Culture gives five reasons Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For was a huge flop.

The video above provides a synopsis of last season of Person of Interest.

I’m not sure why, but Fox plans to reboot The Greatest American Hero. Amazon plans to return Patrick Warburton as The Tick. Fox provides plenty of material for anyone who desires to bring back a genre show canceled on the network. How about Firefly? I also wouldn’t mind seeing what happened after the cliff hanger on the final episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Scribbler includes several genre actresses including Katie Cassidy of Arrow. Trailer above (NSFW–contains nudity)

…it’s a comic book adaptation that stars Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon, Sasha Grey, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Imperioli and Billy Campbell, which is to say director John Suits has compiled an ensemble filled of “been there, done that” names, but they are recognizable names at least.

The film follows Suki (Cassidy), a young woman confronting her destructive mental illness using “The Siamese Burn,” an experimental machine designed to eliminate multiple personalities. The closer Suki comes to being “cured,” she’s haunted by a thought… what if the last unwanted identity turns out to be her?

Speaking of nudity by genre actresses, there has been more interest this week in the nude picture I posted of Jennifer Lawrence last year. That was a picture of her in her role as Mystique which was used as a publicity photo, and distribution of that is far different from hacking her phone or iCloud account, among with pictures of several other actresses, to obtain nude pictures which were privately stored with expectations that they remain private. As Jennifer Lawrence’s spokesperson said, “This is a flagrant violation of privacy.”

Bryan Fuller has ambitious plans for his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Syfy has not renewed the Wil Wheaton Project. No big loss.

Assignment X has an interview with Caitlin FitzGerald, who plays Libby Masters on Masters of Sex. I’ve always been impressed with FitzGerald, who has done a lot of work in indy films. In her role as a late 50’s housewife she faces many of the same problems as Betty Draper on Mad Men. I wonder how much better Betty Draper’s role could have been if cast with someone with FitzGerald’s talent as opposed to January Jones. On the other hand, perhaps a less talented but more beautiful model is exactly who Don Draper would have married.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand provides a model for how the world should be for many libertarians. Wendy McElroy, who has strong libertarian credentials, found that the real world attempt at making Galt’s Gulch hasn’t worked out very well.

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SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Arrow; Continuum; Doctor Who; 12 Monkeys; The Wil Wheaton Project; The Americans; The Big Bang Theory Does Star Wars; How I Met Your Mother Ends In The Darkest Timeline

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With Futamono, we are about half way through the second season of Hannibal, and some people are beginning to suspect that bad things are happening to people around the title character. We know that he will be exposed by the end of the season, but at the moment he is a sort of Superman who is able to outsmart almost everyone and evade detection. He can even manage to get Abel Gideon out of the psychiatric institution in order to have him over for what is probably his last meal. (“You intend me to be my own last supper?”)Fortunately for Gideon, he is insane himself and can be witty while being served his own leg. Bryan Fuller explained why Gideon suffered this type of fate:

 I think part of the reason he meets the horrible fate that he does was the symmetry. Here he is, a guy who claimed to be the Chesapeake Ripper and was the grand pretender to the throne. For him to both become the Chesapeake Ripper and the Chesapeake Ripper’s victim felt like there was a certain poetry that Hannibal would appreciate. We see in episode five, Abel Gideon really goes out of his way to save Hannibal Lecter from Will Graham, but more importantly, save Will Graham from Will Graham by preventing Will from taking a life out of malice. We see that there is a humanity to him and an understanding and even a sympathy for Will Graham and his plight. So as Beverly Katz has carved the path for all of those who believe Will Graham in any capacity, he had to go down the same chute.

It appeared that Jack might obtain some evidence about Hannibal when he finally paid attention to Will’s theories: “If the Ripper is killing, you can bet Hannibal Lecter is having a dinner party. You and I probably sipped wine while swallowing the people who who we were trying to give justice, Jack.” Jack took some food from one of Hannibal’s dinner parties to be tested. Hannibal outsmarted Jack that night as the beef really was wagyu beef (which really is delicious).

While there was not conclusive evidence against Hannibal, there was evidence showing that both the Chesapeake Ripper and the alleged copycat who continued after Will’s incarceration were the same killer, proving it could not be Will. I did not expect to see Will go free until much later in the season. (Can I still wear my Free Will Graham t-shirt?) There was also a piece of rare tree bark which led to the discovery of Miriam Lass, the young FBI agent who figured out Hannibal’s secret in a first season flash back. Surprisingly she is still alive, but is missing an arm.  From the interspersed scenes with Hannibal, I suspect that the discovery of Miriam was a planned move on his part and there is not enough of her mind left after all these years to incriminate him. Coincidentally, Anna Chlumsky returns to Hannibal the same weekend she also returns to television on a new season of Veep.

Hannibal - Season 2

Seeing Hannibal seduce and drug Alana was as chilling as the scenes with Gideon. While her fate (so far) is not as terrible, we have far more invested in her character. For the purposes of this episode, sleeping with Alana provided an alibi for Hannibal capturing Gideon. Television sedatives work wonderfully, with the victim being guaranteed to neither wake up or realize anything was unusual during the night. Next we presumably will see the consequences of a newly freed Will finding that while Jack might now be open to his theories, Alana is almost literally sleeping with the devil.

Dr. Chilton seems to be the smartest one after Will in Hannibal’s circles. He both figured out the rhyme (“They’ll call him Hannibal the Cannibal; he does fit the profile”) and revealed that he only eats salads when dining with Dr. Lecter. He also theorized that Hannibal “is attracted to medical and psychological fields because they offer power over man. Cannibalism…cannibalism is one act of dominance.”

Seeing Hannibal wink at Chilton was enough to suggest he may be doomed, but there would also be some justice in keeping him alive to see Hannibal’s downfall. There has to be someone left to begin treatment of Hannibal once he takes Will’s place in the hospital for the criminally insane. Besides, unlike Miriam Lass and Beverly Katz, Chilton is not likely to allow himself to be alone with Hannibal Lecter.

Arrow Deathstroke

Arrow had yet another strong episode with Deathstroke. It was a key episode for Thea, who is now angry at Oliver after Slade revealed that Oliver was keeping secret the fact that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) was really her father. I had expected the secret was going to be about Oliver on the island and now being the Arrow. We never saw how Slade also knew about Malcolm Merlyn, but it does not contradict anything we have seen for him to have discovered this on his own.

Poor Oliver, now being blamed by Thea for keeping the same secret which he was now become estranged from his mother over. Speaking of secrets, if she knew the full story, Thea would also have good reason to be angry at Oliver for not warning anyone about how dangerous Slade was. If Oliver had said something when he showed up in their home, Thea might not have gotten into the car with him.  Having released Thea, it no longer appears that Slade has any interest in keeping his actions a secret. It seems like after this week, most of the secrets are out in the open.

Arrow Queen Industries

Not only has Oliver lost Thea, he has also lost control over his company as we learned that Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau),  who he had only planned to make CEO pro tempore, was also working with Slade.This is all part of Slade’s plan to take away everything from Oliver.

The episode ended with yet another cliff hanger. While he didn’t tell the secret I had expected him to tell to Thea, Slade did visit Laurel at the end to tell her that Oliver Queen is the Arrow.  Most likely this will change things, especially as her father’s freedom now depends upon him revealing the Arrow’s identity, but there is no guarantee she will believe Slade. After all, as I pointed out last week, she couldn’t even tell that her own sister was the Black Canary when sitting right next to her. Although common in the comics for a mask to be sufficient to hide one’s identity, the mask did very little to hide her face. If Laurel had encountered Sara at the beach wearing large sunglasses, which would cover as much of her face as the mask, would she be unable to recognize her? Just how much alcohol and drugs did that girl consume?

Continuum minute-by-minute

Continuum season three finally aired in the United States on Syfy with resolution of last season’s cliff hanger, answering some questions and raising new ones. Alec has gone back in time a week in hopes of saving Emily, creating a new timeline. I feel like I’m in yet another time jump, being three weeks ahead of where the show is in the United States by downloading the episodes after airing on Showcase. I will limit spoilers to the episode which aired in the United States and will avoid mentioning events of subsequent episodes which have aired.

Minute By Minute began with action scenes with Kiera (Rachel Nichols) and Garza working together to escape, but things got far more complicated with the timeline collapsing and the Freelancers sending Kiera (who has now joined up with them) to the new timeline created by Alec going back into the past. The episode deals with some of the central questions of the series regarding time travel but hardly settles anything.  If traveling in time creates a new timeline, does this mean that Kiera cannot ever return to the time she left? Perhaps the fact that the Freelancers could send her to the same timeline Alec had created suggests some ability to move between timelines and presents a mechanism by which Kiera could ultimately return to both the same time and timeline she came from.

The episode does suggest that the problems and paradoxes from time travel occur if one encounters another version of the same person. They eliminated one possibility of problems here by having the Kiera of the new timeline get killed, leaving only the problem of two Alecs. The suggestion is that one will lead to the future we saw while the other must be eliminated–not that it appears to be a desirable future. Kiera wants to return to her family, and fails to understand many of the problems of her own time. The Freelancers don’t have any interest in choosing which future is best, only wanting time to run its course as it should, but is there really one correct future timeline from the perspective of people in our time? (Might future Freelancers intervene to correct the timeline in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies?)

Possibly actions by people from the future might give some insight into how time travel works if we can assume that they really understood it. Now we know why Kagame made sure he died on the day he was born, understanding the consequences should he ever meet himself. I think the real key is that future Alec Sadler, having his memories of what happened in the past, must have had some master plan in sending both Liber8 and Kiera back in time. Presumably he had some goals based upon changing the conditions he created. However, will this really change the future he lives in, or just create a second and hopefully better timeline?

There are already some key changes in the new timeline with Escher dead, although now any death might not be permanent if there is the possibility of the show moving to yet another timeline. We no longer know Emily’s fate. Can Alec succeed in saving her, or must she be allowed to die to save the future, like Edith Keeler in the classic Star Trek episode, City on the Edge of Forever?  The final scene from last season with Carlos deciding to join Julian will probably never occur.  Hopefully changing timelines doesn’t turn into an easy cosmic reset switch.

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Steven Moffat has sort of given an answer to another time paradox–how the Doctor’s tomb can be on Trenzalore when he escaped his fate and wound up not dying there in The Time of the Doctor:

Moffat replies: “I’ve often wondered about that. Fortunately, late one night, the Doctor turned up in person and explained it to me:

“THE DOCTOR: Changing time is tricky. It’s a bit like a detective story: so as long there isn’t an actual body, you’ve got a certain amount of wiggle room – for instance, if the body has, rather conveniently, been burned on a boat in Utah.

“Here’s the thing: I can change the future so long as the future has not already been established as part of my own past. I can’t rescue Amy and Rory because I already know that I didn’t.

“But what do I know about Trenzalore? There’s a big monument that looks very like my TARDIS. There’s a temporal fissure leading to my timeline. Maybe it’s my grave. Maybe, one day, it’s my burial ground. Maybe it is something else entirely, and we got it all wrong. Don’t know. Don’t plan to find out for as long as possible. The main thing is, Clara still jumped into my time stream, and ended up helping me through all of my life. All that is established, unchanged – but there’s wiggle room!”

There will be additional time travel coming on Syfy. The network has picked up an adaptation of 12 Monkeys:

The cable network on Friday announced that its adaptation of the Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis feature film has been picked up to series with a 13-episode order for a January 2015 premiere.

Nikita’s Aaron Stanford and Suits’ Amanda Schull star in the drama based on Universal Pictures’ Terry Gilliam film. In Plain Sight’s Natalie Chaidez serves as showrunner on the drama about a time traveler from the post-apocalyptic future who appears in the present day on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will eventually decimate the human race.

Chris Hardwick's A Celebration Of "The Nerdist Way"

In addition, Syfy has picked up The Wil Wheaton Project:

Syfy has picked up 12 episodes of The Wil Wheaton Project (working title), which the actor-blogger has dubbed “sort of like Talk Soup for geeks.” The half-hour show, hosted by Wheaton, will allow the geek hero to dissect the week’s biggest stories in sci-pop culture with the witty commentary that has made him a social media star.

In his own words, Wheaton describes the show as a “weekly roundup of the things I love on television and on the Internet, with commentary and jokes, and the occasional visit from interesting people who make those things happen.” In a blog post, Wheaton gives a charming behind-the-scenes account of the year-long process that led to the series being greenlit; his enthusiasm for genre entertainment and insider status serve his audience well. ”We discovered that nobody was doing a show like this that was just focused on the genre shows that nerds like us love, and we decided that we’d make that show,” he writes.

The Wil Wheaton Project premieres May 27 at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.

The Americans Behind the Red Door

The Americans remain on the trail of the murders of the other spy couple in Behind The Red Door.  We learned why this is personal for Claudia, who might have let some information slip out while dating. There’s historical references to Reagan’s actions in Nicaragua. There’s also both discussion of the heroin overdose of John Belushi and a young agent using poisoned heroin to kill the Congressional aide to eliminate the risk of stolen material leading back to her.

The strongest scene of the episode might have been the aftermath of last week’s visit from Elizabeth to Martha. Elizabeth couldn’t get past  Martha’s talk of how wild Clark was in bed and wound up regretting forcing Philip to remain in the Clark role. Initially it seemed that what Martha found wild was the usual for Elizabeth, but then Phillip went further when Elizabeth seemed disappointed.

Meanwhile Oleg is making matters far more complicated for Stan and Nina, trying to turn Stan into a double agent. This week we saw primitive 1980’s technology, a dot matrix printer, used to print out reports. Next week we will see if Nina can fool 1980’s lie detector technology.

Big Bang Star Wars

The Big Bang Theory will be airing a Star Wars themed episode which also includes the return of Bob Newhart as Professor Proton:

CBS’ The Big Bang Theory is teaming with Lucasfilm for an epic Star Wars episode timed to Star Wars Day, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

In “The Proton Transmogrification” — the episode set to air May 1 and timed to the annual May 4 Star Wars Day — the gang gets together to celebrate the annual geek holiday, while Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is guided by visions of his childhood idol and mentor, Professor Proton (Emmy winner Bob Newhart), who appears to the socially challenged genius as his own Jedi master.

For those not in the know, Star Wars Day is recognized every year on May 4, with the traditional celebratory greeting being “May the fourth be with you” — a play on Star Wars’ famed “May the Force be with you” line. Fans across the globe celebrate the film franchise with screenings and special events.

For the episode, the CBS comedy teamed with a group of special effects technicians from Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic to re-create Dagobah — the remote world of swamps and forest that served as a refuge for Yoda during his exile — and provide props for the episode, including a light saber. Lucasfilm experts consulted on the episode and visited the Big Bang Theory set to oversee the production, with the final touches completed at its San Francisco headquarters.

Last Forever Part One

How I Met Your Mother was a remarkable sitcom. It was the best ensemble show of young people in New York despite multiple attempts at this theme following the end of Friends. It did a far better job of telling a story by jumping around in time like Lost than any of the more explicit genre attempts to follow Lost. Unfortunately, instead of being, wait for it, legendary, the finale was a huge disappointment to most fans. If this was Community, the series would have ended in the Darkest Timeline.Fortunately the shock of Tracy’s death was made bearable by advance warnings in fan theories which turned out to be true.

We knew that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas would have some twist planned considering how the series began, but hoped they had something tricker planned than having the Mother die leaving Ted free to wind up with Aunt Robin. Upon reading that they had filmed the ending with the children during the second season so that they wouldn’t appear too old when the series ended, I feared that this is how they would end the show, but still held out hope that they understood the changes in their own show and would come up for a better ending.

During the second season, when the scene was filmed, this certainly made sense. For years the show centered around Ted and Robin and during that time I did suspect that the twist at the end of the pilot was a diversion and that the two really did wind up together, even if someone else was the mother of Ted’s children. The final scene, with Ted going over to Robin’s apartment carrying the Blue French Horn, with Robin’s dogs in the window, was a recreation of a scene from the pilot when Ted returned to Robin’s apartment after failing to kiss her goodnight the first time. (He also missed the signs and failed to kiss her whens he returned–but just  rewatch it on Netflix if you don’t remember the details).

himym blue french horn

However, over the course of nine years the characters changed. If they had stayed the same, it would have been fine if they used this ending. It is also fine that the people changed, but that required a different ending for the show. By the end, Ted and Robin were no longer Ross and Rachel.

Sure there were plenty of clues in the final episodes as Robin had moments when she said Ted was the one she should have wound up with while Ted finally looked ready to move on. However the final season was more about the couples of Ted/Tracy and Barney/Robin. The Mother was no longer just a MacGuffin to propel the story of Ted and Robin. Thomas and Bays did too good a job of making the fans fall in love with Tracy (whose name we didn’t learn until the final episode), and see that she was really the perfect girl for Ted. They also made us accept and welcome the implausible marriage of Barney and Robin.

If the show ended a year or more earlier, as expected, and an unknown woman, or perhaps Victoria, had married Ted but died after having their children, we could have accepted that as a plausible ending and might have been happy that Ted wound up with Robin. Killing off Tracy was a totally different matter. Thomas and Bays should have realized that the evolution in their characters required a different ending than had been planned back in the second season.

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Besides being the wrong ending for where the characters had evolved to, the timing for the show now felt wrong. We spent the entire final season seeing the weekend when Robin and Barney got married, and then their marriage fell apart in a quick sequence in the final moments of the finale (which was a huge clue as to where they were going). They left us wanting to see so much more of Tracy and Ted but all too quickly she became sick, and that was that. She pretty much died off screen just as she spent most of her life. If they were going to have her die, she at least deserved a longer exit. It was as if Love Story was all about Ryan O’Neil and past girl friends and then Ali MacGraw appeared in the final five minutes and stole the movie.

Being television, an ending is not necessarily the absolute end. I had thought earlier in the week that if this was the ending they originally filmed, the smarter thing would have been to film a new ending which was consistent with where the show was this season, and then add the original ending as an extra on the season DVD. Instead the went with the wrong ending but reportedly they cut a happier ending to add as a DVD extra. There is also a spin off of the series planned, but I suspect the ending to HIMYM will always haunt Thomas and Bays as fans will now fear that the new series might turn out to be How I Killed Your Dad.

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SciFi Weekend: Revolution Finale; Doctor Who; Star Wars; SHIELD; Once Upon A Time; Hannibal; The Fall; Game of Thrones

Zak-Orth-and-Elizabeth-Mitchell-in-Revolution-The-Dark-Tower

Revolution concluded its first season with what was essentially a two-part finale. They reached the Tower and found multiple excuses for changes in alliances and lots of fights. There were far too many implausible aspects to the story to discuss, including a drainage system several levels underground which leads to the outside and a door which was built to stand up to nuclear attack but which was easily penetrated when in door fights were on the filming schedule.

Aaron, the Google Guy, turns out to have written the operating system for the Tower as a student and it was sold to the Department of Defense, making it easy to turn the world’s electricity back on near the end. Remarkably the lights in buildings around the world are still on and waiting, with all wiring still intact. The president of the Georgia Republic calls on her staff to get their tanks and helicopters ready now that they have power. Was she collecting them in the years with no power anticipating such a moment?

Nora was killed off to make room for a Rachel/Myles romance with a triangle too complicated a concept for this show. Sawyer might also reunite with Juliet. I’m not sure how Grace fits into this, being with those guarding the Tower after having been captured.

Randal apparently has been planning for this moment all along, even though he never gave any indication of wanting to get to the Tower until Monroe found out about it. As he was surprised that the security system didn’t allow him in, it isn’t clear why he didn’t just go there earlier on his own or with allies (considering how many back doors there appear to be). He then revealed a rather drastic plan of launching ICBM’s towards Philadelphia and Atlanta and then shooting himself. He says he is a patriot and you can’t have a house divided against itself. Apparently only these two areas are considered a threat to the old United States government which is in hiding at Gitmo and now planning to return.

Presumably having the guy who wrote the operating system will allow them to take control and prevent the ICBM’s from hitting their targets. Perhaps this will cause the electricity to go off again. Or maybe they will even allow for Philadelphia and/or Atlanta to get destroyed and center the story in other parts of the country. While it is a plus that the story keeps advancing, one problem with the show is that nothing really seems to matter. We have a setting with the United States destroyed. Add a city or two which are bombed, or have the electricity on or off. The show just is not well written enough to really make me care about these outcomes (but does have me curious enough to keep watching despite all the faults in the show).

Queen TARDIS

If you read the speculation and rumors on line it seems like everyone except Steven Moffat and Jenna-Louise Coleman know which actor (or actress) will play the Doctor when Matt Smith leaves. Supposedly Wil Wheaton knows. Today The Telegraph claims the part was offered to Rory Kinnear, who denies any knowledge of this.

Jenna-Louise Coleman  got to meet the Queen and discuss time travel with her.

Before Guardians of the Galaxy (and after Doctor Who), Karen Gillan is staring in the romantic comedy Not Another Happy Ending. Trailer above.

J.J. Abrams discussed plans for Star Wars Episode VII:

Abrams spoke in only general terms about how he’ll approach the latest “Star Wars” and would not comment when Hudlin pressed him on whether the film will be derived from any of the “Star Wars” novels.

“It is so massive and so important to people,” he said. “I think the key to moving forward on something like this is honoring but not revering what came before.”

Star Wars fans might be wary after how Abrams handled Star Trek. Destroying Vulcan did not revere what came before, and I don’t think it was honoring it either. At least Abrams couldn’t possibly do as much harm to the franchise as Lucas did with the three prequel movies.  Time will tell whether more Star Wars is a good thing, but sometimes it is best to stick with a classic as opposed to trying to turn one into a series of less successful movies. It is possible that Star Wars might wind up the best if left as a classic trilogy.

New promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. above. Samuel L. Jackson has expressed interest in guest staring. It would be a good way to enhance continuity between the show and the Marvel movies. More about the Whedon universe from an  interview with Joss here. Cast interviews here.

Once Upon A Time’s audience is probably not primarily hard core genre fans, but with so many genre shows being canceled or ending their run it is now one of the most successful currently on network television. Here’s some news on how season three begins.

At times I think Hannibal is plotting to destroy Will, seeing him as a threat, but this week it looks like he wants Will for a friend. I also think that having Hannibal for a friend can turn out to be quite dangerous.

One of the many reasons to watch Hannibal is that Gillian Anderson appears on the show as Hannibal’s psychiatrist. It is a minor role which won’t completely satisfy Scully fans, but more of Gillian Anderson can be seen in The Fall. After hearing favorable things about this BBC 2 show I decided to watch this weekend and was pleasantly surprised to find that Netflix has the entire series even though the finale has not yet aired in the U.K. The series trailer is above.

The show involves a serial killer, whose identity is revealed from the start, with Gillian Anderson’s character brought in to handle the case. The concept certainly isn’t anything new, but it is handled very well. In a review after the third episode, The Telegraph calls this the sexiest show on TV:

It’s taken a while but, at last, British TV cop drama has caught up with The Killing. As DS Stella Gibson in The Fall (BBC Two), Gillian Anderson gives us our own incarnation of Denmark’s Sarah Lund: cold, distant, brilliant, flawed but, above all, crackling with sex.

In fact, The Fall is the sexiest show on TV at the moment, which isn’t what you’d expect from BBC Two on a Monday. It’s also the most contrary: we’ve known from the outset, two weeks ago, that Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) is the killer. This is a whydunit, and a canhegetawaywithit, not a whodunit.

Unless British television is devoid of sexy situations I doubt this is really the sexiest show on television. It does go further than American network television can, and at least this characterization demonstrates that it isn’t just a dull police procedural. I am happy they already announced renewal for a second season as they leave a lot of things hanging in the finale (which airs tomorrow on BBC 2 and is already up on Netflix). The season ends with a change in the interplay between Gillian Anderson’s character and the serial killer, but things are far from resolved. After Doctor Who and Sherlock, this is now the British show I’m most anxiously waiting for the next season of. (Even more so than Utopia)

Continuum has been renewed for a third season.

Last week’s Game of Thrones was quite a shock for those of us who have not read the books. George R.R. Martin discussed the historical roots of the Red Wedding here. More at Entertainment Weekly.

 

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SciFi Weekend: Torchwood: The New Earth; Doctor Who; Two New Versions of Superman; Wil Wheaton & Lesbian Sex on Big Bang Theory; Lost

IGN has interviewed Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner about the upcoming Torchwood Series, The New World. The discussion also included questions about future cross over episodes of Torchwood and Doctor Who now that they no  longer have the same show runner.  Here is a portion of the interview:

IGN: We’ve heard this new CIA character, Rex, is somewhat the entry point of The New World. Will we get to Jack and Gwen pretty quickly?

Davies: Too soon to say, but I’m very aware of that. I will enjoy playing with that and I can see already that a slight myth is going to build up of sorts, saying that Rex is our only entry point. When we first see Gwen, you will see what it essentially was in the series [before]. There are no super powers, there’s no credits, no money, no special privileges. You’ll see an ordinary woman whose life is about to take an extraordinary turn. So there will be an awful lot of new viewers where if you’ve never seen Gwen Cooper in your life, you will see a woman with a husband, a baby, thrown into a threat and you’ll latch onto her immediately. Even the way that Captain Jack is introduced is written so that you’ll latch onto that as well.

IGN: What is the dynamic with Rex and the other new character, Ester? What kind of sensibilities do they bring to Torchwood?

Davies: I don’t want to give away too much. Rex certainly brings dynamism and energy and hostility towards Torchwood. He wants to know who the hell they are and why the hell they’re so important and they can get out of his way… at first. There’s a great, fun, sparky, sexy sort of antagonism to the whole thing. Ester is much calmer, but through the course of the story, she suffers some great, powerful, emotional stories as it goes on. In some ways, she’s a bit of an innocent abroad and soon learns not to be. And that plays off Gwen’s experience with these things. The fact that Gwen still is the most ordinary woman in the world, and Jack’s huge perspective of things, having lived for thousands of years… Just telling Rex that he can’t die is a hilarious scene. There’s a lot of fresh material there that we’ll mine, but again the new story will always move us forward.

IGN: Are you looking at this as Series 4 or Season 4 of Torchwood? Or is it a new project with characters we know?

Russell T. Davies: It’s funny, you can’t deny it’s Series 4. There’s a whole fan base and a whole legacy and a whole mythology that I would hate to contradict. Fortunately I have sort of done this before with Doctor Who, when I re-launched that in 2005. It was absolutely imperative to keep everyone who loved Doctor Who on board and to bring in a new audience – it was an even bigger task than this, to be honest. And frankly, I think that went very successfully. I’m an old hand at this. I do know how to do it.

I think these subtitles help, because we don’t actually refer to it as series 4. And we didn’t actually refer to Children of Earth as Series 3. We referred to it as Children of Earth. Now this is The New World, so that takes the curse off of it sounding old. Obviously, you know your stuff – you know your television and I imagine your readership knows their stuff, so we can freely talk about the past. If this was an interview with, say, a more general and generic site, I would avoid talking about the past. So you [move] in-between those points. Because there’s nothing worse than reading an interview and thinking, “Well, I won’t watch that, because it’s on Series 4.”

Gardner: Also, if you look at the history of Torchwood in the UK, it’s moved three channels in three years. It started on the digital channel BBC3 and moved to BBC2 and finally Children of Earth moved to BBC1 which is like the UK’s network channel. Each time, particularly with Children of Earth, Russell reinvented it for a new audience. We didn’t go into Children of Earth thinking that everyone had seen what had gone on before, but very much with that title, it would reward the audience that was there before. There would be references and nuances that they would pick up on that a new audience wouldn’t, but it was done very very much to welcome in people.

Davies: Frankly, it’s gotten bigger and better with every series, and if we ever get to a Series 10, mankind would have to live on the moon to make room for it. So it’s a good plan. [Laughs]

IGN: Now that Doctor Who has done its latest big reinvention with Matt Smith, do you think the two series have completely split off at this point, or do you think another crossover is possible?

Davies: Steven [Moffat] knows the plot of The New World. As a courtesy, I sent him a synopsis and said, “Is that going to clash with anything you’re doing?” We both have enough awareness of each other’s worlds to avoid that. And I still executive produce The Sarah Jane Adventures in Britain. I’m still working on that, and that works in synch with Doctor Who. So we are still very much aware of each plans, without spoiling each other’s news. We’re very careful to make sure that we behave within the Doctor Who world, while still being completely free to tell our own stories.

IGN: I think the curiosity fans have is how Jack would react to this Doctor, since he had a specific relationship with the previous one.

Davies: Well, Steven said he’d love to see Jack in Doctor Who. So if Steven says that, Steven will make it happen, I would think. That’s not inside information, but I bet one day it will happen. I’d love to see it. It would be marvelous.

New York Magazine had a recent interview with Steven Moffat on topics including sex in the Tardis following the selection of a bad girl like Amy Pond to be the current companion. Moffat also reports he will be revealing more about River Song’s identity. He is currently working on an episode in which The Doctor finds out who she is. I previously posted excerpts from the interview here.

Deadline has some casting news, including that Arlene Tur of Crash will join the cast as as a surgeon named Vera Juarez (picture above).

The title for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special has been announced: A Christmas Carol.

There are a couple of new interpretations of Superman. J. Michael Straczynski is giving up regular writing for the Superman and Wonder Woman comic books to concentrate on graphic novels following the success of his recent Superman graphic novel. I09 has a review of Straczynski’s version of Superman:

Every time the Superman franchise jumps to a new media, we inevitably get some iteration of his origin story (i.e. baby Kryptonian crash-lands on the Kent farm, is raised to be a homespun demigod). Given that it’s a modern update of the Superman story, Superman: Earth One doesn’t stray wildly from this formula. When artwork of the hoodie-clad Clark Kent hit the internet, there was chatter that the picture (top) portended a gritty or emo Superman. Luckily, the Earth One Clark Kent is a good guy, and the book makes a strong case that the Kents are the reason he doesn’t grow up to be like that creepy god-child from The Twilight Zone.

How does the origin story in Superman: Earth One diverge from traditional portrayals of the hero? First off, Clark’s powers manifest the minute he crawls out of his escape pod. The Kents also hide Clark to protect themselves. They discover his downed spaceship while camping and hightail it once black helicopters begin investigating the vessel. This book is the diametric opposite of Straczynski’s 2003 Marvel series Supreme Power, which starred an alien infant pressganged into superheroics by the US government. The Kents encourage their son to be an übermensch, but he’s raised without any knowledge of Kryptonian heritage — he knows he’s an alien, but being human is all he’s got.

Straczynski’s emphasis on Clark’s alienness is the book’s strongest point, and artist Shane Davis rightly gives the book a photorealistic look to drive home that this is more science fiction than superhero romp. There are no pastels, other heroes, undulating bosoms, or juiced deltoids. Clark is a lithe guy in a gray and brown world, and he only dons the S as an emergency. There’s a certain amount of disbelief that must be suspended here (a.k.a. Clark’s a humanoid), but this is a Superman story — he’s not going to look like a space walrus or lion

Zack Snyder also plans for some changes in his upcoming Superman movie. Digital Spy reports:

Zack Snyder has promised that his Superman movie will be “different” from previous Man of Steel incarnations, yet stay true to tradition.

In an interview with Empire, the Watchmen director said that David Goyer’s script doesn’t alter the DC Comics “canon”.

“It’s a different story,” Snyder said. “I won’t say there’s a break from the canon or anything like that, but there is definitely an approach that makes you go, ‘Okay, that’s a way to get at it.'”

He continued: “David is very respectful of the canon and stuff like that. It has its roots in the canon and again, like I say, it has a point of view about who he is. I’m being cryptic, I know, but it’s the best I can do.”

Asked if his movie will track the Man of Steel’s early years, Snyder replied: “I think it’s early to say. I don’t know.”

The director also described rumors of the comic book hero facing General Zod as “just wrong”, adding that “the internet has no idea what’s going on”.

Wil Wheaton returned to The Big Bang Theory this week (clip above). Big Bang Theory also almost matched the recent oil fight between Britta and Annie on Community. While the guys were trying to get into a showing of Indiana Jones, the girls were having a slumber party as Kaley Cuoco, Melissa Raunch, and Mayim Bialik  had a pillow fight, and Mayim Bialik decided to experiment with lesbian sex.

In its worst decision since running the awful remake of The Prisoner, AMC has decided not to renew Rubicon. I was looking forward to a second season to see the aftermath of the unraveling of the conspiracy. There were many loose ends, such as whether Spangler would commit suicide after receiving the clover, or whether he would survive to fight both those who were exposing him and his former associates.

Apparently Spangler is still alive and tweeting about API being shut down from the screen grab above. Several other characters from the show also are on Twitter.

Gregg Sutter has an interview with Carlton Cruse of Lost. Here’s a portion:

Gregg: For you personally, what was LOST about?

Carlton: On the surface, LOST was a show about a group of people who survive a plane crash and find themselves lost on a mysterious island. But much more importantly, it was a show about how these people were metaphorically lost in their lives and searching for redemption. Viewers talked a lot about the mythology but for us making the show, it was always first and foremost about the characters.

Gregg: Early on, did you feel like you were doing something special, something that had never been done before?

Carlton: Absolutely. Internally we all thought we were onto something cool. We were shattering a lot of the commonly held beliefs about what you could or couldn’t do on TV and that was an exciting feeling. Of course at that point, no one else believed the show would work as a series, so we talked a lot about how if the show did bomb after the 12 episode initial order, it would hopefully become a cool classic like Twin Peaks, which ran for 30 episodes — or The Prisoner, which ran for 17. We hoped, worse case scenario, that LOST would be the kind of show that gets passed around from geek to geek with people saying, “Hey, have you ever seen this show LOST?”

So with the idea that failure was okay, Damon and I asked ourselves one fundamental question to start: If someone handed us the DVD of the 12 episodes of LOST what would we want it to look like? We decided we’d make a show that the two of us thought would be cool.

Gregg: And you ended up breaking a lot of the traditional rules of narrative in TV.

Carlton: Yes. We did. We showed that it was possible on network TV to tell a highly complex, serialized narrative with intentional ambiguity — leaving the audiences room to debate and discuss the meaning and intentions of the narrative – and still find a large audience. This made it a game-changer, in my opinion.

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TV Alert: Wil Wheaton Returns to Big Bang Theory

Evil Wil Wheaton Big Bang Theory

Evil Wil Wheaton returns to Big Bang Theory to further torment Sheldon. In addition,  Kaley Cuoco and Mayim Bialik and have a pillow fight.

USA Today has more on the episode.

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SciFi Weekend: Another Hugo For Doctor Who; Jane Espenson on Torchwood; Guests Appearances on Big Bang Theory

Waters of Mars Hugo Winner

The Hugo Awards were announced this weekend. There was a tie for best novel between The City & The City by China Miéville and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Moon won for Best Dramatic Presentation–Long Form. Moon won in a strong field which included Star Trek, Avatar, District 9, and Up.  As has been occurring quite frequently in recent years, an episode of Doctor Who won the award for Best Dramatic Presentation–Short Form.

Doctor Who has previously won three Hugo awards, all by current show runner Steven Moffat before he took his current position. In 2006  Moffat won for The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. In 2007 he won with The Girl in the Fireplace and in 2008 for Blink. His two parter Silence in the Library Forest of the Dead received a Hugo nomination in 2008.

Last year Moffat didn’t write any episodes and instead of a regular season there were a handful of special episodes written by Russel T. Davies. Davies won with The Waters of Mars, which beat two of his other special episodes, The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead. Epitaph 1 (Dollhouse) and No More Good Days (FlashForward) were also nominated in this category.

David Tennant Single Father

David Tennant, who played the Doctor in The Waters of Mars, will be appearing in a four-part drama entitled Single Father along with Suranne Jones. The show will air in October on BBC1.

Jane Espenson on Torchwood

Jane Espenson, who has worked on shows including Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and Dollhouse, will be writing three episodes of next season’s ten episode arc. She was interviewed about her work:

How did you end up getting the writing gig? And exactly how involved are you going to be?

I’m thrilled to say I was invited. My agent told me about it very casually; I was already busy at the time, and he thought I’d want to decline, but I jumped in fast to say I absolutely wanted to participate. I will be writing three episodes of the 10-episode arc.

What’s got you most excited about it?

Working with Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner and the others. Writing for a show I already adore, for characters and actors I already respect. Writing for a show with roots in another country—this is a new experience for me, and I’m loving it.

And is there something you’re just DYING to do or try on the show? Or something you can only do because it’s Torchwood?

I love blending tones—mixing the broadly comedic moment in with the darkly dramatic one can heighten both. Torchwood is a show that welcomes that kind of moment. I’m also really eager to play with all the culture-clash material that comes naturally out of the show’s pedigree. And I’m especially eager to write material that pushes the boundaries of what can ordinarily be done on television.

So how do you approach a show like Torchwood vs. your work on, say, Buffy or Caprica?

Because of the length of our season and the lead time before production begins, we’re actually approaching Torchwood in a very unusual way—all the episodes will be written before any of them begin shooting. This is allowing us to “break” all the episodes at once, with the entire writing staff working together in a very concentrated one-month work session. This is making for a very intense and collaborative process, all guided by Russell’s very precise vision. The final product is going to be tightly plotted and lovingly crafted.

Can you give us any juicy details? Or maybe just some slightly moist
ones? Or anything at all?

We’ve already changed the name of at least one character that was announced in the press. And there’s nothing to stop us from changing more—so if you hear anything, even if it was true at some point, it probably isn’t anymore. So the more you learn about Torchwood, the less you know.

There remains no word as to whether there will be a second episode of Caprica (beyond the second half of the first season which airs in starting in January). Contracts with the cast have been extended and there is speculation that they are waiting to see how DVD sales are since ratings were lower than anticipated.

There will be two Star Trek actors appearing on The Big Bang Theory next season. In addition to a return visit from Katee Sackhoff. George Takei will be playing himself:

In an interview, Prady explained that Wolowitz is thinking about getting back together with his ex-girlfriend Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and it sounds as though Sackhoff and Takei will represent opposing points of view.

“George Takei plays himself, and he’s the other person guiding Wolowitz in his thoughts as he tries to figure out what to do about Bernadette,” Prady said.

Prady won’t disclose the venue for this conversation, but he ruled out a return to Wolowitz’s bathtub, where Sackhoff famously appeared last season. But Sackhoff and Takei do share some dialogue, Prady noted.

“I think they do discuss being typecast in science-fiction shows,” Prady said.

I can forgive Wil Wheaton for Wesley Crusher. After all, he was just a teenage actor reading his lines. If we weren’t told that he’s the evil Wil Wheaton from the Mirror Universe, it would be harder to forgive Wheaton for what he has done to Sheldon and, even worse, breaking up Leonard and Penny. Michael Ausiello has this news on a repeat appearance from the Evil Wil Wheaton.

It looks like Sheldon is climbing back in the ring with his longtime rival, Evil Wil Wheaton.

Big Bang Theory executive producer Bill Prady confirms to me exclusively that he wants to revive the ugly feud this season—possibly in time for November sweeps.

“We started talking about the idea of minor celebrities cutting in line,” Prady says, “and we thought it might be funny to have our [Big Bang] guys waiting in line for a one-time-only midnight screening of something like Raiders of the Lost Ark with restored footage, and Wil Wheaton and his three friends cut the line. When it comes time for our guys to get in, the line stops; Wil took the last four seats and Sheldon is just furious. Because it doesn’t make sense to him. Wil’s celebrity is not applicable here. This is not Star Trek. It’s just wrong.”

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Quote of the Day

“Remember the good old days, when ‘tea bagging’ just meant dropping your balls into someone’s mouth?”
–Wil Wheaton

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SciFi Weekend: Educating Amy on Doctor Who; Desmond Seeks Penny on Lost; Sheldon Cooper Gets A Rematch With the Evil Wil Wheaton on Big Bang Theory

I won’t give away any details about this week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Beast Below since it has not aired yet on BBC America, but those who don’t want any information on upcoming stories might turn around (as The Doctor suggested while undressing last week).  It is a solid episode, but felt more like a Davies episode with some Moffat touches as opposed to any of the greater Moffat scripts of the past. The relationship between The Doctor and companion Amy Pond (played by Karen Gillan) is far more important than any specifics of the plot. The Doctor began the episode trying to teach Amy but, perhaps because The Doctor is still not fully himself after the regeneration, it is Amy who wound up noticing something which was missed by The Doctor. We are also given hints that we will be seeing more related to Amy’s back story.

Next week The Doctor helps Winston Churchill in a World War II England which is packed with Daleks, who appear to be on the Allied side. Here is another trailer released by the BBC which is different from the one which aired at the end of last night’s episode:

I’ll also note that search engine hits for old posts on Karen Gillan remain at record levels, especially those in which she is either scantily clad or in a bikini. The majority of hits are coming from the U.K. but there is also growing interest in her in the United States. It will be interesting to see if this increases dramatically after the BBC America premiere on April 17.For now I am forced to host the pictures of Karen Gillan on another site and increase  caching, which often leads to funny things with the blog.

The Desmond episodes of Lost seem to be essential to follow the mythology of the series. Hot Flashes had Desmond moving between the two realities as opposed to through time as in previous Desmond episodes. This episode confirmed what I had wondered since the first episode of the season when Juliet told Sawyer that “it worked.” Near death experiences do allow characters to see the other universe.

Increasingly we are seeing  that the characters in the alternative universe are lacking some of their problems, but a key difference is often that they are also lacking the person they love. (One case where the situation is different is with Sun and Jin,who are having an affair but are not married). Perhaps Lost is as much about love as it is about destiny and good versus evil.

Desmond is without Penny in the alternative universe, which seems to be totally wrong. He seeks out Penny after having flashes of his other life in both a near-death experience and when having an MRI. It has been clear that Eloise knows far more about the island than most of the other characters. This is true of the Eloise of the alternative universe who warns Desmond to “stop looking for it” when she sees that he is looking for Penny and other aspects of his other life.

The episode ends with a curious sequence. First Desmond expressed his willingness to help Charles Widmore back on the island, after experiencing life in the other universe. However this might be due to a change in Desmond as opposed to a meaningful decision based upon what he has learned. After he winds up with Sayid, Desmond is also willing to follow Sayid instead. Meanwhile in the alternative universe the big question is what Desmond wants to show the other passengers on Oceanic 815. Will they all learn that this is not the universe that they were meant to be in, and how will they respond to this information?

Sheldon Cooper gets a rematch with the Evil Wil Wheaton on The Big Bang Theory. The good Wil Wheaton has provided this link to a preview of the episode via Twitter. Jim Parsons has also discussed the episode, The Wheaton Recurrence, which will air Monday night:

So how does Sheldon feel about that? “He’s very unhappy,” Jim Parsons said during a recent conversation on the set of the hit CBS comedy. On the other hand, Parson added, “I was happy to see Wil Wheaton because he’s very nice, and easy to work with. It’s funny, there’s absolutely no love lost between the two of them, at least on Sheldon’s end, and it’s really interesting to treat such a nice person that way – take after take of disdain or just staring. It’s one of those things where, a lot of the time you get here, maybe you don’t see each other [before filming], and we would go hours where that was the only communication we would have. I would leave the set that day and realize that I’d literally not said a nice word to him because I hadn’t seen him outside of the scene. So that was weird.”

Parsons was quite complimentary about Wheaton’s presence on the show (which this time occurs at a bowling alley), saying, “He’s such a wonderful foil. It was just perfect, because of course one of the main enemies in Sheldon Cooper’s life is such a nice person – with all the real evil in the world, he’s gone after Wil Wheaton. I think the other people on the list were largely make-believe if I remember correctly, like Darth Vader. The things Sheldon will concern himself with and then not concern himself with amaze me. Love isn’t worth the time of day, but a 20-year-old hate grudge against Wil Wheaton is worth exploring in a couple of different episodes.”

I discussed Wil Wheaton’s first appearance on The Big Bang Theory here, when the evil Wil Wheaton pulled a Johnny Fairplay move, and previously reported on the upcoming rematch here.

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SciFi Weekend: Lost (The Secret of the Island); Caprica (New Cap City); Big Bang Theory (Leonard & Sheldon’s Coffee Table) and How Star Trek Should Have Ended

Lost continues to suggest that the characters are on the island for a reason and that this had been planned well before the crash. Hurley and Jack are sent by Jacob to a lighthouse which has mirrors which could view people off the island. The big question raised but not answered is who Jacob was expecting to come to the island. The other character of significance on the island this week was Claire, who was quite scary–even before we learned that her “friend” is the man in black. She has been terrorizing the latest band of others, believing they have Aaron. This provided a reminder of events off the island in this timeline which we are no longer seeing.

In the other timeline Jack now has  a teenage son and we see a relationship analogous to the relationship between Jack and his own father. There was another suggestion that this is not simply a timeline which shows what would have happened if Jack and the others had never crashed on the island. Previously we saw that Jack had his appendix removed on the island. In this other reality Jack notices his appendectomy scar and is told by his mother that he had the operation as a child. He seems to recall this, but has doubts. There is no way that changing the timeline to prevent the crash would have also made Jack have an appendectomy at a younger age. Instead it appears that details in the other reality are somehow being filled in to explain changes which happened on the island, such as Jack’s appendectomy.

There are still lots of questions but Watch with Kristin reveals that we will learn what the island is midway through the season:

What Is the Island? That very huge question will be answered in less time than you think–somewhere around halfway through the season, according to  sources. Awesome, right? And you know who’s going to help deliver the message? The fantastic, ever-youthful guyliner model Mr. Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) and his longtime friend Jacob (Mark Pellegrino). It’s gonna be good.

So…What Is the Island? It’s described as a four-letter word. There’s your first clue! Shall we play Hangman? There are no A’s or E’s in the word…Wanna buy another vowel? OK, but you only get one.

Another thing I can tell you: The Island has to exist, according to my sources, and more important, someone has to protect it. It’s important to the world outside.

Kristin has more information on Lost here.

Caprica is growing on me further after this week’s episode. We know how it will end with the Cylons rebelling, and we got a strong indication of why when Daniel Graystone was describing how the Cylons would be created as essentially a slave race. This was the first episode to really do very much with Tamara who rapidly developed from a lost girl in the virtual reality to a very powerful character playing a game in New Cap City. This raises questions of whether there is a connection between her and the ultimate development of the Cylons. It is easier to see Cylons developing into a slave race capable of destroying their masters if Tamara as opposed to Zoe winds up providing much of their intellect.

Big Bang Theory returns Monday with Sheldon in jail and Stan Lee as guest star. The following week Sheldon (pictured above looking a little different) becomes obsessed with a ring found a a garage sale. They began work on the episode featuring the return of Wil Wheaton last week. In the episode to air on April 12 “Sheldon will have an opportunity to settle the score with Wil when the our genius gang competes against the gang from the comic book store during a bowling face off. Turns out that Sheldon bowled as a child and was on a championship team in the East Texas Youth Camp in the 7- to 13-year-old division.” So this explains why Big Bang Theory executive producer Bill Prady was asking questions about bowling on Twitter last week.

Meanwhile Wil Wheaton is both blogging and tweeting about the episode. This has included pictures such as the one above which shows the detail in the sets, such as with Sheldon and Leonard’s coffee table.  The magazine seen is Mental Floss. There was a lot of fun stuff at their site and I wound up sending in a subscription order. Naturally when the order page had a spot for saying where I heard about the magazine I answered, “Sheldon and Leonard’s coffee table.” From the site it is clear they will understand.

A different type of magazine has also discussed Big Bang Theory. UCLA Today has an article on the science adviser for the show.

I’ve previously reported that the upcoming season of Doctor Who will begin airing on April 3 on the BBC. In the past there has been a delay of several months before the show would air in the United States, with large percentages of fans finding ways to get copies of the episodes rather than waiting.  BBC America has now announced they will begin the series two weeks later on April 17. This is an improvement but I feel that in this day and age they are still making a mistake. Many fans of the show will not wait even two weeks to see new episodes and anything which can be digitalized can easily be transferred over the ocean.

HowItShouldHaveEnded.com has posted the above video of how they think the Star Trek movie should have ended.

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SciFi Weekend: Daleks for Sale; Evil Wil Wheaton Returns; Lost; Caprica; Seth McFarlane as James Kirk; and Jennifer Lopez Seduces Barney

Looking for your very own Dalek? A selection of items from Doctor Who will be auctioned off on February 24. Items will include two Daleks,  several Cybermen, a sea devil, and a dinner suit worn by David Tennant.

Season five of Doctor Who will premiere on April 3 on the BBC. It is unclear whether it will premiere on BBC America for days or weeks after. If they are smart they will not have much of a delay or a tremendous percentage of fans will find ways to obtain downloads of the BBC episodes. Blogator Who has a trailer for the season.

Wil Wheaton announced via Twitter that he will reprise his role as Evil Wil on Big Bang Theory, with more information now posted on his blog:

From TV Guide Magazine:

Geeks everywhere will be happy hear that Star Trek star Wil Wheaton will be returning to hang out with TV’s hippest nerds on The Big Bang Theory.

“We were very excited when Wil Wheaton appeared as Sheldon’s nemesis, and right now we’re looking to see if he can come back to give Sheldon an opportunity to settle the score,” Executive Producer and Co Creator Bill Prady announced to TV Guide Magazine when the Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences hosted an Evening With the Big Bang Theory on February 18th. “Fingers crossed that we can do that, I think an arch enemy is someone who appears from time to time.”

Even though my personal motto is Don’t Be A Dick, I’ve wanted to play an arch enemy for pretty much my entire career, and I love that Bill described me that way, because I was kind of hoping I’d earn that position in the Big Bang canon.

I’ve known this was a possibility for just over a week, (coincidentally, I found out the day after I did my Big Bang Theory Q&A post) but didn’t get the official offer until this morning.

They will begin work on  February 24 and will tape the episode on March 2. Wheaton won’t say what the episode is about but promises that it will be “a lot more awesome than just eating Chapstick.” Bazinga!

This week had new episodes of Lost and Caprica. Lost was much better than last week’s episode and either misled us or gave clues as to why everyone is on the island. On Caprica my impression of Amanda Graystone has improved considerably from earlier episodes. Fortunately for her, Joseph Adama also changed his mind about her. I also loved Zoe’s robot dance.

Seth McFarlane had a great impression of William Shatner’s  Captain James T. Kirk on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday Night as they compared events in the Star Trek episode A Taste of Armageddon to the Senate filibuster.  In other Star Trek news, Leonard Nimoy will reprise his role as William Bell in the season finale of Fringe.

Jennifer Lopez will appear on How I Met Your Mother on March 8. Above is a picture of her seducing Barney.

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