SciFi Weekend: Tuesday Shows Go Dark (SHIELD and Person of Interest); Sleepy Hollow; Under The Dome (“Nothing But A Giant Suck Hole”); Doctor Who; Outlander; Arrow; Gotham; Shatner Star Trek Rumors; If Ayn Rand Wrote Buffy

Shield Go Dark

Tuesday night featured the return of two television shows which have both changed for the post-Snowden era, Agents of SHIELD and Person of Interest. On each show the heroes are now working in secret, or even greater secrecy than they had operated in the past.

The premiere of Agents of SHIELD was not as good as the final episodes of the first season following Captain America: The Winter Soldier but did show promise of setting up a far better second season than the first was.  A couple problems from the first season are now solved. No longer can the team theoretically call upon the vast resources of SHIELD. This group is also easier to root for in the post-Snowden era. There is no doubt that the old SHIELD would have been listening in on our phone calls, reading our email, and have no problem with extraordinary rendition or even torture. That SHIELD no longer exists. We can dislike General Talbot as the nominally good protagonist (wondering if Bruce Banner is also in the neighborhood) and root for SHIELD in opposing him.

The episode started with a flashback of Agent Carter, including a glimpse of a green being in a box, suggesting the alien which was used to save Coulson, and later Skye (who works far better as an agent rather than the outsider) along with connecting to Guardians of the Galaxy.The show now makes mention of multiple Marvel characters, and included a super-villain, which gives the show much more the feel of being in the Marvel universe than seen in the first season. Lucy Lawless made her appearance as Isabelle  Hartley and lost her arm if not her life. There is certainly the possibility of her return on a show where two characters have returned from death or near-death, and now we have Dr. Whitehall, who hasn’t aged since seen in 1945.

While we don’t know whether Lucy Lawless will return, there is news that Adrianne Palecki of Friday Night Lights (and who almost became Wonder Woman) will be guest starring as Mockingbird later this season.

There were additional consequences to the events of last season beyond the breakup of SHIELD. Fitz is more interesting than last season now that we found that he did not recover from the lack of oxygen to his brain, and is imagining that Simmons is with him after she left. I would anticipate some recovery on his part and probably a Fitzsimmons reunion down the road. Agent Ward is also a bit nuts compared to last season, and may or may not really know anything about Skye’s father. I suspect he really does, and we might be in store for some Hannibal/Clarice type scenes between Ward and Skye this season.

Person of Interest s04e01

Go Dark was the strategic order from Director Coulson on Agents of SHIELD, and also describes the strategy Root devised with the Machine to keep everyone alive and hidden from Samaritan on Person of Interest.  The increased concern over the dangers of the surveillance state has been fortuitous for the show. Initially the Machine’s surveillance was primarily a gimmick to get the heroes into the story of the week, but last season the show transitioned far more into a series about the dangers of government surveillance and artificial intelligence in the wrong hands. The show has largely been rebooted this season, and shows promise of being even better than previous seasons.

Series co-creator Greg Plageman compared artificial intelligence to the creation of the atomic bomb at San Diego Comic-Con:

I think when we started out this show we were answering a lot of questions about the Orwellian surveillance state and people asking us if that was science fiction and now, in a post-Snowden era, no one’s asking those questions anymore. So what does the show become now?

I think the most interesting question in terms of our show and technology that is emerging is artificial intelligence. We’re living in a world now where not just nation states—Israel, United States, the Russians, whoever—are trying to build an artificial intelligent. The thing closest to this was the Manhattan Project, the greatest existential risk the world has ever faced: the development of the atomic bomb, and the race to get it, and who was going to get it first and what that meant in terms of ending World War II.

We are now at a similar crossroads with artificial intelligence. The only difference is it’s not just DARPA. It’s not just nation states. It’s a bunch of billionaires in their 30s up in Silicon Valley who are buying up all the artificial intelligence companies. It’s fascinating. Look up ‘Deep Mind,’ see what’s going on. No one really knows.

Harold Finch built a machine, an artificial intelligence, that he supposed was sympathetic to humankind. But what if someone built one that didn’t take that into consideration at all? And I think we’re dealing with the next great existential risk to the world and I think that’s something our show can deal with in a really cool way.

The Blacklist was among other shows which returned, once again turning what would otherwise be a mediocre show into a hit due to the presence of James Spader. Mary Louise Parker makes an excellent addition as his ex-wife.

Sleepy Hollow also returned with a strong season premiere. This is a series which I am reluctant to write much about as any description of the show sounds absurd. They manage to pull off its absurdities very well (far better than Under the Dome does). It is always fun to see what they come up with to tie early American history into their mythology, such as revealing that they key used on Benjamin Franklin’s kite is used to unlock Purgatory. As I said, it sounds like it makes no sense, but the show is so much fun.

Under the Dome Season 2 Finale

Under the Dome ended and the series could be summed up by what Noreen said: “It’s nothing but a giant killer suck hole!” The giant suck hole appeared the previous week after Melanie, a character who came back from the dead, was apparently killed a second time. In other recent episodes there was a tunnel under the school in which people could jump off a cliff and appear in another city, until Big Jim messed that up. Recently it became cold and nobody in town had any warm clothes to put on. The Dome started contracting, and when they began to time the contractions I wondered if next they were going to say the Dome was pregnant.

In the second season, and hopefully series, finale, everyone in town who could make it went through a tunnel where the giant suck hole had appeared. The final moment showed Melanie once again back from the dead, saying “Follow me, we’re going home.”But isn’t Chester’s Mill their home? If the show returns next summer, we will presumably see where Melanie leads them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they follow her, perhaps to an intermediate destination, and they ultimately wind up back in Chester’s Mill, like Patrick McGoohan trying to leave The Village. I imagine that if it doesn’t return, we can just assume that they escape, possibly coming back to rescue those who didn’t make it.

Doctor Who The Caretaker

On Doctor Who, The Caretaker returned to its 1963 roots at Coal Hill School, and Gareth Roberts, writer of episodes such as The Lodger, once again showed the Doctor attempting to blend in with humans. The killer alien story was weak, and primarily existed as a vehicle to have the Doctor finally meet Danny Pink. Along the way the Doctor got mislead when seeing Clara speaking with a fellow school teacher wearing a bow tie, thinking that she had fallen for someone who looks like his previous regeneration. While we had long been led to believe we will have another couple in the TARDIS, with Clara and Danny replacing Amy and Rory, it now looks like there once again might be two schoolteachers and a student, with Courtney joining along, at least temporarily, despite being a disturbance:

Clara: “I would say, yes, I’m afraid Courtney is a disruptive influence.”

Response: “Yeah, but last year you said she was a very disruptive influence. So I suppose that counts as an improvement.”

Courtney discovered the TARDIS after ignoring the Doctor’s sign to keep out, or more precisely, “Go Away Humans.”

The meeting between the Doctor and Danny Pink didn’t go very well. The Doctor continues to object to soldiers, apparently forgetting all the time he spent with UNIT, along with many other individual soldiers over the centuries. Danny sees the Doctor as an arrogant aristocrat, concentrating on the Lord part of Time Lord. He also wondered about about Clara (“Are you a space woman?”).

The episode also introduced another gadget for the Doctor, an invisibility watch. This raises the question of why this was never used on many occasions when it could have come in handy in the past, and whether it will be used again. Another plot hole which we will just have to ignore.

Among other top lines of the episode:  “You’re running out of time.” “For what?” “Everything! Human beings have incredibly short lifespans. Frankly, you should all be in a constant state of panic. Tick tock, tick tock.”

After not seeing this in recent episodes, The Caretaker also showed a character who died in the episode wind up in the Nethersphere, or perhaps Heaven.

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Saturday night’s other time travel series, Outlander, got deeper into time travel in the mid-season finale. Frank heard of the possibility of time travel at Craig na Dun, and by the end of the  episode was willing to accept it as a possibility. In addition to seeing a poster with a reward for information related to Claire, there was another poster in Frank’s era seeking information about someone who sure looks like Jaime, suggesting that he might also wind up traveling in time.

It was surprising that a spy like Frank would fall into such an obvious trap when seeking information about Claire, but he was quite well prepared to take care of himself. He seemed to enjoy beating up his attackers too much, perhaps intending to show a comparison between the violence of his evil ancestor and Frank. Are we to question which husband Claire is really best off with?

The episode had a tease that Claire might return home. At very least she did hear Frank calling out to her through time, but it was intentionally left ambiguous as to whether Frank could hear Claire calling back. Just before getting a chance to return, she fell into the hands of Black Jack once again, with her attempts to deceive him failing. We don’t know  how Jaime managed to get into his window, but he came to attempt to save Claire just before she might have received an involuntary mastectomy. We will see what happens next when Outlander returns in April.

Arrow Oliver and Felicity

Arrow returns October 8 and Marc Guggenheim has discussed the upcoming season:

“He is going to get some new toys to play with,” Guggenheim said. “One of them is a new bow that looks identical to the old bow, but it does something that you’ve never seen before.” Guggenheim disclosed that the explanation behind Oliver’s new equipment will be detailed in DC Comics‘ currently unfolding digital-first series “Arrow: Season 2.5,” taking place between the second and third seasons.

While “Arrow” has traditionally been more grounded, the show’s second season embraced superpowers a bit more, both in laying the groundwork for spinoff “The Flash” and in Slade Wilson and his Mirakuru-fueld army that served as primary antagonists. With “The Flash” now its own series on The CW, Guggenheim stated that “Arrow” will return to a more realistic direction.

“We’re not really planning on revisiting superpowers or enhanced abilities during season three,” Guggenheim told Weiland. “We are really returning to the show’s roots of a very grounded world where it’s very realistic. We may take occasional artistic license with things, but for the most part, everything is pretty well and truly grounded in real-life things and real-life science.”

Another DC comic-based series began with the premiere of Gotham. I think we will need to see more to determine if is worth watching a show with Bruce Wayne before he became Batman. While it includes the origins of several villains, I think we will have to view this as another version of the legend, not connected chronologically with other Batman stories. While we think of the murder of Bruce’s parents as occurring years ago, Gotham appears to take place in the present (or a parallel universe were cell phones have been around a lot longer).

Syfy has renewed both Defiance and Dominion.

CaptainKirkShatner_1

There have been a number of rumors, denials, and perhaps an admission that J.J. Abrams has spoken to William Shatner about doing a cameo for his third Star Trek movie. I have my doubts as to whether it is a good idea, but it is more plausible now than in the first Abrams movie in which Spock from the original time line went back in time. Kirk could not do that because in that time line he was dead. However this doesn’t prevent a future Kirk from being seen from the Abrams time line.

There is yet another rumor that the next Avengers movie will be split into two parts.

If Ayn Rand wrote Buffy The Vampire Slayer

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SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; The Fall; Crisis; Orphan Black; Continuum; History of Science Fiction; HIMYM; Gotham; Agent Carter; SHIELD; The Americans; Under The Skin; Under The Dome

Hannibal-Season-2-Episode3

Hannibal has now become a courtroom drama, with Will Graham on trial for the murders committed by Hannibal. We appear to have another murderer out there, but without Will investigating we never get into the new murderer’s head and do not even know their identity. Is Hannibal also committing these murders in an attempt to free Will and regain him as a (manipulated) friend? Hannibal was forced to admit that there were some differences in how the murderer was operating. Hannibal would know better, unless this was part of a bigger plan.

Another favorite scene in the trial was the return of Freddie. She first seemed to bury Will by saying that Abigail had confided in her that she was afraid Will  might kill and cannibalize her. The defense then asked Freddie how many times she was accused of libel (six) and how many times she settled (six), quickly discrediting her testimony.

Assignment X has an interview with Mads Mikkelsen:

AX: Did you watch any of the earlier incarnations of Hannibal?

MADS MIKKELSEN: I think we all watched that, growing up, right? We were certain from the beginning that we could not detach ourselves from the character. Obviously, he’s a man who loves anything beautiful – beautiful music, beautiful people, beautiful wine – so we had to address that, but we had to detach it from what Anthony did. Obviously, it would be creative suicide to go down his path. He was so wonderful, and if you try to copy something like that – but I think any actor would make it his own, regardless of if it’s me or somebody else, but it was a conscious choice that detached us.

AX: Can you say what you’re bringing to Hannibal?

MIKKELSEN: A lot of it is already in Bryan’s scripts. He’s already given life to the character to a certain degree, and then it’s up to me to step into those shoes. As I said before, any actor would color it somehow, and I’m coloring it – I’m trying, to a degree, to make him human. What he does is absolutely not human, but his emotions are true and honest.

AX: You’ve compared Hannibal to Lucifer. Is he becoming more Luciferian or less Luciferian as you go along?

MIKKELSEN: He is Lucifer. He is the fallen angel. The thing about him is that he’s honest – he’s honest with his emotions regarding Will. He’s having a hard time here trying to regain his friendship. That’s uphill, of course. But that’s his main target in this season.

AX: Do you think Hannibal qualifies as a psychopath by regular psychiatrist standards, or is he something else?

MIKKELSEN: I don’t think he is a psychopath. I mean, reading about psychopaths, they normally have a traumatized childhood or something they’re struggling with. He doesn’t have that. He’s as happy as you can get. He’s a happy man. I have rarely given life to a character that is as happy as him, I must say.

AX: What would you say Hannibal’s relationship is like with his erstwhile psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia du Maurier, played by Gillian Anderson?

MIKKELSEN: That’s obviously a very unique and kinky relationship that they have, and we will address it a little more in this season. I think she has been a very important partner for him, in a sense that we will see a different side of Hannibal, and he will be quite emotional with her to a degree. Why he’s doing that, we don’t know. And I think that’s just his little space of freedom where he can be what he is.

Gillian Anderson is gone from the series for now, busy with two other series. She has begun filming the second season of The Fall for BBC2, a series well worth watching (and available in the United States on Netflix). Another series, Crisis, begins on NBC tonight with some  initial reviews being very favorable. Entertainment Weekly has more on the show.

Gillian Anderson had a great response to a question posed on Reddit:

Question: My question is assuming your character is made into a gourmet meal by Hannibal what type of food would you want to be made into?

Gillian Anderson: Something so rich that he’d choke on it and die.

EW Orphan Black

Orphan Black has put BBC America on the map (and cover of Entertainment Weekly) with one of the top genre shows of all time.Tatiana Maslany spoke about one of her clones being gay:

Even while Orphan Black received praise for the diversity of its characters, there was some debate online about the decision to have Cosima be gay, because If she has the same genetic code as her clone sisters, does that mean the show is implying that she chose to be gay as opposed to being born that way (since other clones like Sarah and Alison appear to be heterosexual)? Absolutely not, says the woman who plays her. “By no means are we saying that Cosima chooses to be gay,” says Maslany. “It’s by no means that. It’s just that there are so many biological factors into the mother’s womb, into the conditions of the womb. So much of the research I was doing about clones was about identical twins, right? Identical twins would actually be closer in expression than clones because clones are birthed from different wombs. And there’s so much information that gets fed through the mother. I think we’re not saying anything about that in terms of choice and biology or whatever. We’re saying more that everyone could be anything.”

I think we have to give the show some leeway being fiction and not try to use it as actually revealing anything about the genetics of sexual preference. More from the interviews at Screen Rant.

Spoiler TV has information (and video) on a new clone to be introduced in the second season:

A brand new season of Orphan Black means a brand new clone. And we have all the intel on said clone right here! Meet Jennifer Fitzsimmons, a 28-year old teacher and swim coach. And you are about to meet Jennifer the same way Cosima does, through a series of video diaries that Cosima discovers while researching her own respiratory illness.

Amazon has obtained exclusive streaming rights to Orphan Black, along with Hannibal, and the first season is available if you missed it.

Besides their science fiction drama, BBC America will also be airing a show on The Real History of Science Fiction beginning April 19:

From Star Wars to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and from Jurassic Park to Doctor Who, each program is packed with contributors behind these creations and traces the developments of Robots, Space, Invasion and Time. Narrated by Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who writer, actor, and co-creator of the BBC’s Sherlock, the series determines why science fiction is not merely a genre… for its audience it’s a portal to a multi-verse – one that is all too easy to get lost in.

Among those taking part are: William Shatner (Star Trek), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Chris Carter (The X-Files), Ronald D Moore (Battlestar Galactica), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock), David Tennant (Doctor Who), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust), Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy), Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise), Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness), Syd Mead (Blade Runner), Kenny Baker (Star Wars), Anthony Daniels (Star Wars), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Peter Weller (Robocop), Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica), and many more.

The four part series will be divided into episodes on Robots, Space, Invasion, and Time.

Continuum - Episode 3.01 - Minute by Minute - Promotional Photos (5)_FULL

Continuum returns tonight on Showcase, but American audiences who resist the temptation to download the episode will have to wait until April 4. I certainly intend to get a hold of the earlier (and uncut) episodes after aired on Showcase. I will warn of any spoilers before the American showing. Some Spoilers have already been released prior to the first episode of the season, but presumably nothing which truly spoils the episode. Those who want to know nothing might want to skip the rest of this section which discusses what I have already heard.

The first episode, Minute By Minute reportedly reveals who the Freelancers really are, and someone new  joins up with them and gets the tattoos. Kira teams up with Garza, which comes as little surprise considering the changing alliances we have seen. As suggested in the second season finale, Alec goes back in time to try to save Emily, and reportedly there is a lot of timey wimey stuff with potential end of the world consequences. With time travel involved, other dead characters do return. The first ten minutes have already been released in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbdOVrqHuCU

The Marvel vs. DC feud will heat up next year, this time in the movie theaters. Both Captain America 2 and the next Superman vs Batman movie will be released the weekend of May 6, 2016.

CBS has renewed The Big Bang Theory for three more seasons. Bazinga!

Cristin Milioti has called the theories that her character dies on How I Met Your Mother “some crazy conspiracy theories, which actually just makes me really love the fans more,” but never actually denied the rumors.  The show runners also dodged the question at PaleyFest. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is intentional misdirection, but if there is some other surprise at the end. The cast will also be appearing on Inside The Actors Studio later this month prior to the series finale on March 31.

Gotham

Fox has released more information on their upcoming series, Gotham:

Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?

“Gotham” is an origin story of the great DC Comics super villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (“The Mentalist,” “Rome”), “Gotham” follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.

Growing up in Gotham City’s surrounding suburbs, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, “Southland,” “The O.C.”) romanticized the city as a glamorous and exciting metropolis where his late father once served as a successful district attorney. Now, two weeks into his new job as a Gotham City detective and engaged to his beloved fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards, Open Grave, “Breaking In”), Gordon is living his dream – even as he hopes to restore the city back to the pure version he remembers it was as a kid.

Brave, honest and ready to prove himself, the newly-minted detective is partnered with the brash, but shrewd police legend Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Terriers,” “Vikings,” “Copper”), as the two stumble upon the city’s highest-profile case ever: the murder of local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne. At the scene of the crime, Gordon meets the sole survivor: the Waynes’ hauntingly intense 12-year-old son, Bruce (David Mazouz, “Touch”), toward whom the young detective feels an inexplicable kinship. Moved by the boy’s profound loss, Gordon vows to catch the killer.

As he navigates the often-underhanded politics of Gotham’s criminal justice system, Gordon will confront imposing gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith, The Matrix films, “HawthoRNe,” Collateral), and many of the characters who will become some of fiction’s most renowned, enduring villains, including a teenaged Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (acting newcomer Camren Bicondova) and Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor, “The Walking Dead,” Another Earth).

Although the crime drama will follow Gordon’s turbulent and singular rise through the Gotham City police department, led by Police Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara, “Burn Notice”), it also will focus on the unlikely friendship Gordon forms with the young heir to the Wayne fortune, who is being raised by his unflappable butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, “Camelot,” “Elementary”). It is a friendship that will last them all of their lives, playing a crucial role in helping the young boy eventually become the crusader he’s destined to be.

captain-america Agent Carater
Collider has spoken with Captain America screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeel  about how they envision the planned Agent Carter series. From this description, I’m more hopeful about this show than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Here are the key points reported:

  • ABC has the script for the pilot but nothing is greenlit yet.
  • Markus and McFeely have recently spoken to Hayley Atwell and she is very interested in doing the show.
  • Howard Stark would be a recurring character, not a series regular.  This is assuming Dominic Cooper would be willing to continue to play the role.  I’ve spoken to him about this and he seemed very interested.  But this was a few months ago and things change.
  • The show would start in 1946, sort of in the middle of the timeline of the One Shot.  McFeely said, “We can’t get her to the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. that fast.  We wanna stay in that world longer where people are disrespecting her and she’s proving herself and going on missions and things like that.”
  • Unlike most network shows that are 22 or 23-episode seasons, Markus and McFeely think Agent Carter should be a limited series with a maximum of 13 episodes per season.  McFeely said, “[13 episodes] is how this is envisioned, maybe even less… That’s my hope, is that it would be something like [Under the Dome].  Our case would be that it would be a limited series and you would wrap up that one bad guy and that one case, and then if you like it we’ll do it again next year and it’s 1947.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did have one of its better episodes of the season with the Thor crossover, guest staring Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif. While both a big event for the show and entertaining, the storyline still showed the weakness of the show. If they knew that Lorelei had the ability to control men, why would they have not one but two of their male agents wind up in a position where she could so easily take them over. Plus that plane of theirs has to be the least secure government facility in existence. Last week’s episode did also advance the storyline of Coulson’s return from the dead and this continuing storyline is a plus for the show.

THE AMERICANS -- The Walk In -- Episode 3 (Airs Wednesday, March 12, 10:00 PM e/p) -- Pictured: (L-R) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings -- CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

While entertaining, S.H.I.E.L.D looks like a bunch of armatures compared to the KGB in 1982. The Americans had another solid episode. Elizabeth showed she can be far more threatening than any S.H.I.E.L.D. agent as she terrified a janitor into getting her some information. Luckily for him, he stumbled upon Elizabeth’s weak spot when he showed her pictures of his children. It saved his life, but I doubt he will ever talk. Paige went do track down “Aunt Helen,” who Elizabeth was supposedly with while recovering from her gunshot wound. While the KGB was ready for this with a fake Aunt Helen complete with a picture of Elizabeth and Paige on the wall, I wouldn’t put it past Paige to ultimately bring down their entire spy operation. The episode also had a satisfying answer to my question last week as to why Nina told Stan about the walk-in by Bruce Dameran. Building up Stan by allowing him to kill Dameran is expected to be of more value to the KGB than any information they might have obtained from Dameran.

The episode also showed why the series works despite having KGB agents as the protagonists. Much of the episode dealt with family matters, including a letter from Leanne to Jared written years earlier in the event that she and Emmett were killed, so it didn’t matter that it was dealing with Russians. The subplot with Stan and Dameran, while a victory for the KGB, also involved Stan preventing an assassination, something which American viewers could root for. The scenes with Elizabeth and the poor janitor were so dramatic that it was easy to ignore the fact that they also involved American secrets falling into KGB hands.

Scarlett Johansson

The Guardian has an interview with Scarlett Johansson about her role in Under the Skin. In this portion she discussed why she wanted to take the role:

It’s one reason, presumably, that she took the part, though I’m curious to know the details. There’s only about three lines of dialogue in the entire film, so it can hardly have been the standout script. The main point of her character is that she doesn’t actually have a character. She’s an alien. She doesn’t do emotion. And it was filmed in Scotland. In winter. And most of the film consists of her standing around in wet boots and a too-thin coat. Or stripping off her clothes in a derelict squat and luring men into a vat of black ectoplasm. (At one point, she appears naked. Johansson fans, of which there are many, most especially the male variety, have been lighting up message boards for months with discussion of this particular fact.)

So why, of all the scripts she must get sent, did she decide to do this one? “I heard Jonathan was making a film and originally it was a very different story. But I met him, and it was very clear that he was struggling to figure out what he was doing with it, and what had attracted him to it. It wasn’t his passion project but there was something in the idea of having a character that was an alien that could give him the freedom to be completely observant without any judgment. I think we were both interested in that. I thought it would be incredibly challenging to play a character that’s free of judgment, that has no relationship to any emotion I could relate to.

“And for me, at this point, I think it much more interesting for me to look at something and know that I can play it, but not know how, rather than to look at something and go, ‘Ah, I can do that.’ And then just do it.”

The story also touched on other roles, including genre movies such as Captain America and Her.

The above trailer has been released for the second season of Under the Dome. The first episode will be written by Stephen King–hopefully he can get the show back on track. Executive producer Brian K. Vaughan says “The second season is going to take us to places where the book never got to go . Stephen King gave us some ideas we never imagined.” Two new characters will be introduced, Junior’s uncle who had been hiding out and a young school teacher. Two characters from the first season will be killed in an apparent law of conservation of characters. Early opinion from fans is that killing off just two characters is not enough. Maybe they could do this every week.

john_cho

John Cho of the two Star Trek remakes and Sleepy Hollow has been cast as the male lead in Selfie, the upcoming sit-com staring Karen Gillan of Doctor Who.

Selfie, a modern take on My Fair Lady and inspired by the musical, centers on a self-obsessed 20-something woman named Eliza Dooley (Gillan) who is more concerned with “likes” than being liked. After suffering a public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media “followers” than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She then enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.

Cho will play self-assured, successful marketing expert Henry, who is a different breed from today’s social media-addicted society. As a challenge, he decides to “remarket” his coworker Eliza. He joins an ensemble that already includes Allyn Rachel, Tim Peper, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and David Harewood. Casting for the regular roles is now complete.

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SciFi Weekend: The TARDIS on Google Maps; Arrow Introducing More DC Characters; Iron Man 3; Under The Dome; True Blood; Homeland; Orange Is The New Black; Orphan Black; Thor; Elementary; The Newsroom; Interstellar; Star Trek Predicting The Future Since 1966

TARDIS in on Google Maps

If you check out street view on Google Maps at Earlham Green, Greater London Nr5 8DQ, United Kingdom you will see a blue police call box on the left side of the street. Place the mouse near it and then click on the double lines which will appear. This will allow you to enter the TARDIS. You will find that it is smaller on the outside than on the inside. Once inside you will be able to move around the control room. Unfortunately you cannot go further inside the TARDIS but I assume Google Maps will be working on extending their coverage of interior spaces.

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Arrow show runner Mark Guggenheim discussed introducing The Flash on Arrow:

“I feel like I’m just following Bilson and DeMeo. Whatever they do, I seem to follow in their footsteps,” Guggenheim laughed. The writer told CBR that from comics to TV, the goal of the “Arrow” production team is to expand out the DC Universe while keeping the tone and feel of their show its own unique story platform.

“Honestly, I’m just excited to help be a part of expanding the DC Universe,” he said. “I think one of the big thing that appeals to me about comics in general is the idea of the shared universe. It’s a lot of fun to be able to do that in television, and growing up one of the things I enjoyed was the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ and ‘The Bionic Woman’ and the way those two shows would interact with each other. We’re at least a season away from ‘Arrow’ interacting with ‘The Flash,” but the potential for that is really exciting for me.”

Kreisberg, who serves as Guggenheim’s show running partner on “Arrow,” will develop Barry Allen’s character in writing each of those three episodes this season on “Arrow,” and Guggenheim said that is all part of a masterplan that stretches back before their recent run of announcements. “Andrew is taking the lead on ‘The Flash.’ This has been in the works for a while and had been in the works since before Comic-Con. But we made the decision, as these things are announced in a rollout, to take a strategy where we’d announce Black Canary, Bronze Tiger and Brother Blood at Comic-Con. We felt like, ‘That’s a lot for Comic-Con. Let’s save something back for when T.C.A. comes around.’ I want to disabuse anyone of the notion that we decided to do Flash after Comic-Con. We’re just capable of keeping secrets every now and again.”

And overall, the writer wanted to stress that an additional superhero – and one with some more super powers – won’t change the core of what “Arrow” is. In fact, Guggenheim leaned on a comparison with DC’s main competitor to explain how each series will develop over time. “I think a lot of people are justified in asking ‘What does this mean for Arrow in terms of its tone?’ And my answer is that the trick that we have – and this is a challenge we’ve discusses a lot and have an awareness of how to face it head on – is the fact that ‘Arrow’ is like ‘Iron Man’ where ‘The Flash’ will be ‘The Hulk.’ And just as ‘The Hulk’ coming out did not change the tone of the Iron Man movies, ‘The Flash’ will not change the tone of ‘Arrow.’ We’re very cognizant of what ‘Arrow’ is all about, and I think the Marvel movies demonstrate that each piece of a universe can have its own feel. ‘Thor’ is consistent with the tone of Thor while ‘Captain America’ is consistent with the tone of Captain America’s character. ‘Arrow’s’ tone will remain consistent much in the same way, and we are looking forward to expanding our canvass a bit. And judging from the announcement, I think the fans are looking forward to it as well.”

While Barry Allen will be on Arrow for a few episodes, he will not have his superpowers, at least not at the start.  Despite not having true superpowers, Arrow does feel like a superhero show, including having the common problem of the hero being just too powerful. I just watched the first season of the show over the past week and found it to be entertaining as long as you ignore the multiple implausible aspects. On Arrow, a person with bow and arrows can easily defeat multiple people with guns. This includes not only Oliver Queen, but two other characters who use the same weapon. Oliver Queen does have fighting skills beyond this weapon. He also has an amazing ability to disappear. Typically when he is surrounded inside a closed area and anyone else would be captured, he gets away with no difficulty or even on-screen explanation. Arrow is not up to the quality of the most impressive new genre shows of the season on regular cable and broadcast television ( such as The Americans, Orphan Black, and Hannibal) but still worth watching.

There were aspects of the writing style of Arrow which makes me confident they will do a good job of gradually introducing characters. Rather than quickly giving an origin and then moving on to the main story, Arrow had flashbacks over the entire season to the island where Oliver Queen was stranded for five years and learned his skills. Rather than immediately introduce the sidekick and those who knew his secret identity, characters were gradually brought into Oliver Queen’s inner circle.

There are also a couple of reasons for Doctor Who fans to watch. John Barrowman is a recurring character all season and Alex Kingston was on a few episodes. I was hoping for the two to interact but that did not occur. Incidentally, most Barrowman fans probably know that Torchwood is an anagram with the same letters as Doctor Who. By coincidence, the name of the television show he appeared in last season is also in Barrowman’s name.

More on crossover characters from other DC comics here.

The Mandarin appears in this deleted scene from Iron Man 3.

I’m glad to see Under the Dome turn more to the mystery of the dome, not that I’m all that confident of a satisfactory resolution. Apparently when they say “the monarch will be crowned” they are speaking of an actual monarch within the small dome. I have read that one of the major differences between recent episodes and the book has been that Big Jim and Junior work together in the book. Last week’s episode may signal a reconciliation between the two.

Last week’s episode of True Blood contained the battle which we might have expected for the season finale. There are still questions. Will Sookie keep her promise to become Warlow’s vampire bride? (I bet she does not). Is the war between humans and vampires now over, or just beginning? Will those vampires who indirectly fed on ferry blood continue to be able to be out in daylight? Is Bill now returning to his normal self? Considering how poor recent seasons of the show had become, it is a good sign that, despite some ongoing problems, the show is now able to maintain interest in such questions.

Homeland writers revealed information on their plans during season two. I’ve been questioning since the end of season one how long they could plausibly continue to have Brody around. The writers may have been thinking the same thing:

Though the show’s creators already copped to plotting an untimely end for Lewis’ character way back in season one, that is until more merciful voices at Showtime prevailed, Gordon admitted that, going into season two, the writers intended to send Brody to the chopping block yet again, and were once more persuaded otherwise by the network.  “We had sketched out this plan in the early parts of season two which called for Brody’s demise, which may have been premature, and they asked us to reconsider,” which Gordon credits as “the happy accident of having very good partners.”

If it seemed like a sudden reversal for Carrie to have decided not to leave the country with Brody, it was also a reversal of the writers’ plans:

According to Steihm, who has since left Homeland to run FX drama The Bridge, the writers all wanted Carrie (Claire Danes) to go with Brody across the border in the season two finale instead of returning to the CIA.  In fact, in the first draft, she did. After much debate, they ultimately decided it was more in character for Carrie to stay and carry out her mission with the Agency after helping Brody escape safely to an underground network.

Besides being a great show, Orange Is The New Black has supported science over religious fundamentalism, such as in the scene above with partial transcript below:

Piper: I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t, and I don’t [believe in this]… I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit he could be kind of an asshole. I cannot get behind some Supreme Being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked by machetes. I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell. I don’t think that we get cancer to learn life lessons. And I don’t believe people die young because God needs another angel. I think it’s just bullshit. And on some level, I think we all know that.

There are a number of reports, along with a denial, that Laura Prepon will be leaving Orange is The New Black to work on a new show. If true, this would leave a major hole in the show. The reports claiming this do say that Prepon will still be present at the start of the season to tie up Alex’s storyline and she will be written out in a way which would allow her to return.

Orphan Is The New Black

Two  of the top television shows premiering in 2013, Orphan Black and Orange Is The New Black, have been combined in this mash-up giving us Orphan Is The New Black.

Natalie Portman expects there to be a Thor 3.

Fake Sherlock will be going to England in their opening episode. Maybe they will meet the “real” Holmes and Watson of Sherlock. (Ok, probably not). More news on the second season of Elementary here.

We expect The Newsroom to mix in major news stories with each episode. Last week they included plot elements reminiscent of other real events from The Today Show botching the editing on George Zimmerman’s 911 tape to the real life release of nude photos from Oliva Munn’s phone. The manner in which World Net Daily reported a rumor without any fact checking also is based on reality, along with being an excellent commentary on the unreliability of WND and the entire right wing noise machine.

Filming has begun on Christopher Nolan’s latest science fiction project, Interstellar.

William Shatner joins those arguing that Star Trek belongs on television in this interview:

Karl Urban, from the new Star Trek films said that “Star Trek, as envisioned, was about space exploration. And it would be really wonderful to harness the spirit of that and apply it to the next film”. Is that something that you would like to see? A greater focus on discovery in these films.

Shatner: I’m not goona second guess JJ Abrams, he’s a great director and he’s so talented. But I’ll tell you that I am going to the Lowell Observatory in a couple of weeks to deliver a speech that I wrote about Star Trek and its capacity to stir the imaginations of young people.

The idea is, that so many people’s lives have been touched by the imagination of Star Trek and children’s imaginations are so vital to the rest of their lives that… this is an aspect of Star Trek that I’m focused on.

Now let me ask you, trying to bring in new viewers, new younger viewers to expose that world to young kids and teenagers alike and really spur that imagination — is a TV show a more viable vehicle for that? Is it sad that we don’t have something like that right now, a Star Trek TV show that could really seize on the exploration part of the thing that the original series and Next Generation, that those things did?

Shatner: You know, I think you’re right. Because, JJ Abrams has found the key to getting a large audience into the movie theater, and that’s the ride. So you get a lot of the CGI effects, which is the epic movie making aspect of today, whereas in Cecile B. Demille’s time, you had to use real people. Now you don’t need to use real people and you can have infinity for God’s sake.

That’s in order to get you into the theater, because the majesty of the movie is shown by the large screen. But when you get into the small screen, you need stories… entertaining, interesting, vital stories that have a philosophy and also have an excitement about them, so that the viewer stays with it, but recieves the philosophy as a byproduct. Those were the best of Star Trek, those kinds of stories. And that kind of thing, there is always room for that. That kind of imaginative approach that stirs young people into wanting to be connected with science.

Star Trek Science

Via Techeblog

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

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

Another clip from The Snowmen above.

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

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

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

Jenna Louise Dec 2012

The Telegraph interviewed Jenna-Louise Coleman:

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

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

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

Merlin Finale

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

Fringa Nina

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

Star Trek Into Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sex in Game of Thrones; Homeland; Dexter; Elementary v. Sherlock; The Avengers; Merlin; Blake’s 7 Reboot; Amy Sherman-Palladino Interview

Doctor Who has become the first British television show to make the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

How do you know when a TV show has become a cult phenomenon? When its (often comparatively small) ratings are eclipsed by the wild ardor of its fans. Take the case of the British science fiction show Doctor Who, whose current lead, Matt Smith, is this week’s cover star. The now 49-year-old Who is hugely popular in its homeland but has always enjoyed a more select appeal here — not that you know that from the devotion of U.S.-based “Whovians.” In 1983, 7,000 people attended a Doctor Who convention in Chicago and over the past couple of years the time-traveling “Doctor” has received a bordering-on-the-absurd number of onscreen shout-outs from Community, Criminal Minds, Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show, Supernatural, and Grey’s Anatomy, whose creator, Shonda Rhimes, describes herself as a “psychotic” follower of Matt Smith’s time travel adventures in this week’s cover story. “It’s not an obscure show anymore,” says executive producer Steven Moffat. “It’s not even a ‘British import.’ It’s just Doctor Who.”

Has the time finally come for the so-called “Time Lord” to break big in America? Could be. The Doctor Who team has assiduously courted fans here with a succession of publicity appearances, including a panel at this year’s Comic-Con where Whovians paid homage to Smith’s red-haired costar Karen Gillan by donning ginger wigs. (No. 2 way you know  a TV show has become a cult favorite? When fans start dressing as characters.) In June 2011, the show’s U.S. broadcaster BBC America enjoyed its best ever ratings with the premiere episode of the sixth season since Doctor Who was revived in 2005, following a 16 year hiatus. The new season, which debuts later this summer, may well be the most eagerly anticipated ever as the Doctor prepares to say goodbye to his two trusty and beloved-by-fans “companions,” Gillan’s Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill’s Rory Williams. In the cover story we track the ups and downs of the show’s remarkable half-century history and preview the new episodes with help from Smith, Gillan, Darvill, and  exec producer, Steven Moffat.

Mary Tamm, the first actress to play Romana as companion to Tom Baker on Doctor Who died during the past week at age 62. Regret ably she was not able to regenerate like the character she played. A video tribute to Mary Tamm follows:

BBC America will be broadcasting four documentaries about Doctor Who in August:

The Science of Doctor Who: explores the real life science behind the biggest concepts and most iconic ideas in Doctor Who. The Science of Doctor Who premieres Saturday, August 4, 11:00 pm ET.

The Women of Doctor Who: Behind every great Time Lord there’s a great woman. Whether they’re busting Daleks or the Doctor’s ego, the women of Doctor Who prove that you don’t need testosterone to save the universe. Premieres Saturday, August 11, 9:00pm ET.

The Timey-Wimey Stuff of Doctor Who: When the Doctor’s around, tomorrow is yesterday, yesterday is tomorrow and 18th century France is in your fireplace. Confused yet? You’ve already seen it in the future. The Timey-Wimey Stuff of Doctor Who premieres Saturday, August 18, 11:00pm ET.

The Destinations of Doctor Who: Leave the beach towel at home and take a trip to the end of the Earth – literally. From the Starship UK to one very haunted hotel, you won’t find the destinations of Doctor Who in any guidebook. This final instalment premieres Saturday, August 25, 9:00pm ET.

George R. R. Martin commented on the reaction to the sex in Game of Thrones during an interview with the Daily Star:

Martin, who has a blue collar background in an industrial suburb of New Jersey said he has been surprised with the reaction against explicit sex scenes coming from some American readers.

“I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off,” he said.

“To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much.”

Above is a trailer for the second season of Homeland, which returns on September 30. Showtime has released this press release:

In the wake of Israeli air strikes against Iran, the Middle East threatens to erupt in fresh violence. In Beirut, flags bearing the Star of David, and the Red, White, and Blue, burn in the streets. A woman swims through the chaos towards the American embassy, trying to make contact. The abused wife of a Hezbollah commander, she carries information about an attack – retaliation against Israel’s ally, the United States. But this would-be informant insists she will only speak to her one-time CIA handler: Carrie Mathison.

The problem: Carrie Mathison is no longer with the Agency. The disgraced ex-officer is on the slow path to recovery, after her manic flight in Season One nearly crashed the political career of American hero Nicholas Brody. Months after her expulsion from the CIA, the adventure and turmoil that once defined Carrie’s life is now a dull memory, replaced by regular ECT treatment and her father and sister’s protective cocoon. It’s this fragile new existence that Carrie’s former colleagues Saul Berenson and David Estes threaten to shatter, when they come to her door asking for help.

Meanwhile Nicholas Brody, several months into his inaugural term as a freshman Congressman, finds himself buffeted daily by competing agendas. Everyone has a plan for him – whether it’s Vice President William Walden, fellow Marine Mike Faber, or terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir. While Brody strives to change the face of American foreign policy without bloodshed, he learns that doing so may not be good enough for Nazir. And with every lie he tells, the walls around him close in a little tighter, threatening to bring Brody down, along with his family and everything they’ve achieved since his return.

As the situation at home and abroad escalates, Carrie and Brody’s worlds will collide yet again, deepening a relationship built on lies, suspicion and longing. Will Carrie finally be vindicated for the truth she was so close to uncovering? Can Brody keep his head above water, as opposing powers play him like a pawn? Whoever gains the upper hand in this dangerous pairing, neither Carrie nor Brody will come out of it unscathed.

They also released this press release about the seventh season of Dexter:

Season 7 returns in explosive fashion, as Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is finally forced to confront his greatest fear, as Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) witnesses his insatiable, ritualistic slaying of a killer. Now Deb knows the secret of his Dark Passenger, his undeniable thirst for blood, and the Code that their father Harry (‘James Remar’) instilled in him as a young boy.

But as Deb tries to reconcile the unfathomable idea that her beloved, mild-mannered brother is Miami’s most notorious serial killer, Dexter is still pulled by his natural impulses to seek out the guilty and exact his brand of vigilante justice, which leads him on the trail of a brutal Ukrainian mobster (Ray Stevenson).

Along the way, Dexter meets Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), a strong, independent woman with a past that she’s struggled to put behind her. As a turn of events leads Miami Metro Homicide to ask for her help in solving some old cases, Dexter works with her and begins to wonder if there’s more to this woman than she’s professed.

The producers of Elementary and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch discussed comparisons with the other show and the choice of a female Watson on Elementary. Elementary‘s executive producers Robert Doherty and Carl Beverly answered these questions at Comic Con:

Can you talk about how it came about that Watson is a woman in this show?
Robert: “[In preparation for the show], I read a handful of psychological assessments of [Sherlock] that real doctors have written up over the years. Somebody classified him as bipolar, somebody else said he had a mild form of Asperger’s, and one of them happened to mention that he was classified as a gynophobe – he had just not a terribly healthy relationship with women, he was a little suspicious of them.

“And it just sort of made me laugh when I read it because I was like, ‘Well, what would make him crazier than Watson is a woman? He’s actually living with someone who’s monitoring him who’s also a woman’. All of that said, our Holmes is not a gynophobe, he’s not a misogynist – it’s just sort of what got that ball rolling.

“I also was sort of up for the challenge. I knew it would be inevitable that people would be fascinated by the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ that would come up and I like that the question is there and it exists, but I also don’t feel any rush to… In fact, let me be blunt – I don’t want them to end up in bed together. That’s just not what the show is for.

“I don’t think that would be true to the spirit of the original relationship between the two characters, and that’s important to me. I’d like to show that a man and a woman can be friends and go to work and live together and not end up romantically entangled.”

Carl: “Robert often calls it a bromance, but one of the bros just happens to be a woman.

“I think it’s a really apt description because there’s this idea that a man and woman can’t be together – on a show, especially – without needing to be together sexually or in love or whatever. And this is really just about the evolution of a friendship and how that happens. Watching that should be as much the story of this show as the mystery you see week in, week out about who killed who.

“You know, we love that and those stories will be great, but the mystery of this relationship and how the friendship comes into being, that should be something that draws people in too.”

Obviously there will be comparisons to the BBC’s Sherlock
Carl: “We think it’s fantastic.”

Robert: “It’s an incredible show. I have nothing but the highest regard for that show and Steven as a writer. I think sometimes we catch flak because we are a contemporised Sherlock. Sherlock has been contemporised dating back to the ’40s. There were movies with Basil Rathbone set in the Victorian era and then suddenly there were movies with Basil Rathbone in World War II where they’re fighting Nazis, so the idea’s been around a long time.

Sherlock has done it extremely well – I think it’s a brilliant show. I’ve only seen the first series but I hear the second series is just as excellent. But as far as taking from the show, I just don’t think that’s true. Because he exists mostly in the public domain, many hands have handled Sherlock over the years.

“He’s been everywhere – he’s been to the future, he’s been to the past, I’ve seen him in comics, I’ve seen him in books, I’ve seen many, many, many different takes and interpretations of the character and the franchise. They’re all great. I don’t think any of them hurt any of the others. Sherlock the character has big shoulders and I think he can carry all of us.”

Answers from additional questions suggested a couple of ways in which Elementary might differ from Sherlock. They do not plan to update original Sherlock Holmes stories as has been done on Sherlock. Mycroft will probably wind up on the show eventually, but not initially. Sherlock’s father will probably appear first.

Benedict Cumberbatch expressed these views on Elementary:

“If I were the [producer], I’d be frightened of the dynamic of male friendship that you’d lose,” he confesses to TVLine, “because that is obviously the bedrock of the books as well. [Now] there might be sexual tension between Joan [Holmes] and Sherlock, which is [a different dynamic than you'd have] between the two men. So, that’s a new thing to explore.”

And not necessarily a bad thing to explore. Cumberbatch – who is friends with Miller and even appeared opposite him in the UK stage production of Frankenstein – believes the world is big enough for multiple interpretations of Sherlock. (And, having seen the jolly good pilot, I’m inclined to agree.) “I wish them luck, I really do,” the actor insists. “I think it will be great. It will be a different spin on it, because obviously, theirs is modern-day as well, so it needs to be different from ours, and I think the more differences, the better, to be honest.

“I don’t see why they shouldn’t co-exist with us,” he adds, “I don’t think they’ll steal our audience. I think people who are Holmes fans who think they do a good job of it will have a treat in watching ours and the films. So I wish them good luck!”

I’m not exactly sure what a television show set in the Avenger’s universe but without the superheroes would be like, but such a show is being considered:

After scoring huge at the box office with its Avengers movie, Marvel is looking to explore the mythology on the small screen too. I’ve learned that Marvel’s TV division is in conversation with ABC and ABC Studios about doing a drama series in the Avengers world. I hear that the connection to the Avengers franchise would be light as the project is expected to be set in the universe and feature some of its themes and feel, but may not include any characters from Joss Whedon’s blockbuster. I hear the project is in a nascent stage, described as “a kernel of an idea,” with a number of scenarios being explored, including a high-concept cop show. Marvel has already given the Avengers the animated treatment with Disney XD’s The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the upcoming Avengers Assemble.

Establishing a primetime foothold has been a priority for Disney-owned Marvel. The company has developed several projects for ABC Studios over the last couple of years, one of which, a Hulk series, is still in the works. Search is under way for a new writer to pen the project.

Perhaps they could start with repairing all the damage to New York. Actually I stayed on Park Avenue in New York last weekend for the first time since the damage depicted in the movie and everything seems to have been restored. I did pass a couple of shawarma restaurants, but no sign of any superheroes.

The above trailer has been released for the fifth season of Merlin. The show was originally envisioned as running for five seasons but now there is talk of extending to a sixth season, along with a movie.

William Shatner’s new documentary Get A Life! premiers this weekend on Epix. Trekmovie.com has a review.

A reboot of Blake’s 7 is in the works, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royal). A reboot makes the most sense considering how much time has gone by and how the original ended, but I’d love to see them try to continue the series from the point of the finale of the original series.  The opening to the original series is above.

Amy Sherman-Palladino was interviewed by Deadline Hollywood about her new show, Bunheads, and inevitably Gilmore Girls came up. No word on her planned final four words for the series and she is quite pessimistic about the chances of a Gilmore Girls movie:

DEADLINE: Well, Gilmore Girls worked — until you left. Right now, Gilmore Girls is back in the news because journalists are comparing your departure to the situation at NBC’s Community, predicting that series won’t survive the ouster of creator Dan Harmon as showrunner. Can a series successfully outlive its creator?
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: I think certain shows can. Great shows like Cheers went on and on after the original guys left, but you have to be able to train people in the style. I think procedurals can go on because you are doing cases. When a show is about a singular voice or a singular relationship, I think it’s a lot harder. When you’ve got the guy who basically was Community, and you get rid of him in year four, I don’t understand that position. You either keep the guy for a fourth season, or maybe you just don’t pick it up. I don’t know Dan Harmon; some people say terrible things about him. I don’t know, maybe he is Lucifer. But if we based everything in Hollywood on who was a nice guy, holy moly, we would have no movies. No actors would work. This is not an industry that is ruled by kindness and generosity. But maybe Community will be a fucking phenomenon this year, who knows? I didn’t watch Community, I don’t have a dog in this race, but all the things I read about it just felt weird.

DEADLINE: Was the end of Gilmore Girls inevitable after you left?
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: Gilmore was tough and the cast was tired. It was a hard show, and I think that once I left there were pressures to do it cheaper, to really streamline it, to do things that they could not get me to do. But there are practicalities. If you are new, and they are telling you to do something and you would like to remain in your job, you need to do that. I think Gilmore Girls could have gone on another couple-three years. I was sad the way it went down and I don’t think it had to go down that way. But I don’t control the business, although I would like to. It was a great and wonderful experience, and I was lucky to have it.

DEADLINE: Sounds like that’s TV.
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: It is TV. If I had any other transferrable skills, any other way to make a car payment, I would do it. It’s the one thing I can do. You talk to people and they say, the business is changing and it sucks and it’s awful. Well OK, but what’s my option? This is it. It may suck, it may be awful, but you’ve got to just keep going.

DEADLINE: Any chance of a Gilmore Girls movie?
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: I thought so for a long time, I was into it, Lauren [star Lauren Graham] was into it, but the studio just does not seem to want to discuss it, so I’m thinking it probably won’t happen. She and I were totally there, we were game, I had stories, I had a way that I thought would have worked for fans and non-fans alike, but Warner Bros right now is not interested in doing that kind of movie.

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SciFi Weekend: The Event, Fringe, Big Bang vs. Community, and Preparing for First Contact

The Event had its premier episode this week and was widely compared to Lost. The unfavorable nature of some of the comparisons is a little unfair as Lost had two hours to set up the situation in its pilot episode.  Lost also started out more modestly, appearing to be a show about survivors of a plane crash. We gradually learned how far more complicated the show’s mythology would be.

On The Event we quickly find that things are very complicated–and the conspiracy is far more elaborate than that on AMC’s more cerebral conspiracy show, Rubicon. It appears that a group is being held in a number of prisons for knowing a secret which most of the show’s characters seem to know about but the viewer does not. A new president threatens to reveal the information to the public and set the prisoners free, leading to a possible assassination attempt. The narrative is confused by constantly jumping around in time making Lost’s use of two time periods in many episodes seem easy to follow by comparison.

The other big event of the episode involved Sean Walker going on a cruise with his girl friend, who disappeared without any sign that the two were ever passengers. (It shows that when traveling with one’s girl friend it is unsafe to go scuba diving with an even hotter girl.)  This is interspersed with scenes of Sean trying to get into the cabin of a plane being piloted by the girl friend’s father, who we are led to believe is being forced to fly the plane into a presidential compound in Florida because of having his two daughter’s kidnapped. It also appears his wife was killed, but the scene left open the possibility she survived. We also don’t know for certain that Sean’s girl friend was really taken against her will. She might even be in on the conspiracy for all we know.

All the jumping around in time was to build up to the conclusion where the plane disappeared from the sky, setting up a big mystery which will hopefully be answered this week.  Theories being discussed include alien technology and jumping to another dimension. If we are really dealing with another dimension, this even leaves open the possibility that Sean somehow was moved to an almost identical cruise ship in another dimension where he was never a passenger traveling with his girl friend.

If this is a matter of two alternative earths it would risk being too much like Fringe, which returned on Thursday. Last season ended with a great cliff-hanger as Olivia was imprisoned on the alternative earth while their Olivia had infiltrated the Fringe squad. Word had leaked over the summer that Olivia would escape during the first episode, but they had a great twist in having the alternative Olivia’s memories be implanted into Olivia.

Besides the return of Fringe, Thursday demonstrated why DVR’s are necessary. CBS decided to take on NBC’s comedy line up by putting Big Bang Theory and William Shatner’s new show, $#*! My Dad Says (based upon this Twitter feed) on Thursday. Besides this battle of two of the best comedies on television at 8:00, ABC’s drama My Generation also looks like it is worth watching.

While both shows are worth watching regularly, this week Big Bang Theory started the season with a better episode than Community. Big Bang Theory had two strong plot lines. Sheldon, played by Emmy Award winner Jim Parsons, had his first date with Amy, played by Mayim Bialic, with Penny along to drive and try to stimulate conversation. Sheldon even managed to work in an attack on community college degrees. I wonder if this was a shot meant for the new competition. Meanwhile Wolowitz brought home a robotic arm being developed for NASA and wound up using it in a way Christine O’Donnell would not approve of.

I thought the season premiere of Community was below the quality of many of last season’s episodes because of trying to do too much in one episode. Betty White was fantastic, but her use was limited by trying to resolve last season’s cliff hanger far too quickly. The responses by Jeff and Britta to the situation could easily have been spread out over a few episodes rather than trying to reset the show in the first episode.

If Jeff wasn’t going to wind up with Britta or Professor Slater, there’s that matter of the kiss with Annie at the end of the episode–along with the obvious chemistry between them earlier in the season. Jeff acts as if Annie is a child and the episode suggests their relationship isn’t going anywhere. Annie is played by Alison Brie (who also plays Trudy Campbell on Mad Men) and as can be seen in the picture of her above is clearly no child. I bet that we see more of Jeff and Annie this season.

Chang, now a student instead of Spanish teacher, looked like Golum with his thoughts of revenge against the study group. It was an amusing scene but again it felt like too much was being thrown into one episode. It would probably work better if there were only occasional episodes devoted to Chang but the manner in which network sit-coms are done means that a regular character will be used pretty much every week.

Later this season Hilary Duff will guest star in an episode which shows a Mean Girls type clique going up against the Greendale students.

Having moved on to sit-coms, I can’t help but note what we learned on How I Met Your Mother. After going out with Ted, Cindy (Rachel Bilson) has given up on men and wound up kissing the girl who we were led to believe just might turn out to be Ted’s future wife (played by Kaylee Defer).  With Cindy no longer mad at him, the chances might be better for Ted to meet her room mate, but we learn that he is fated to meet her while best man at a wedding. (Could it be Barney’s?)

If The Event does turn out to involve contact with extraterrestrials, as some theorize, readers should be relieved to know that the United Nations is prepared should such an event actually occur:

The United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth’s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before – and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN’s little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.

But what if the aliens demand to be taken to our leader? (Or maybe they did come and request this following the 2000 election and left in confusion).

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Sarah Palin Takes on William Shatner

In July Conan O’Brian had William Shatner present a dramatic reading of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech(video here). Conan had Shatner on again to present a dramatic reading of Going Rogue. Shatner was then surprised by Sarah Palin coming on to give her own reading of William Shatner’s autobiography (video above).

We see who Sarah Palin feels confident to confront here. She’s been afraid to give interviews to real journalists such as those on the Sunday morning interview shows after her first couple of major interviews were such flops. She has taken pot shots at Al Gore on her Facebook page and wrote an op-ed packed with falsehoods, but has been afraid to take up the challenge of actually debating him on the issues. A windbag like William Shatner–that she has the guts to do.

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SciFi Weekend: The Next Star Trek Movie; Extra Hour For Lost; Harry Potter and Atheism; & Another Kristen Bell Bikini Movie

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With the first Star Trek movie by J.J. Abrams turning into such a hit, there has been a lot of speculation about his next Star Trek movie. In an interview with Colllider, Abrams says he is  open to anything:

Q:  I just interviewed Bob and Alex… they were talking about not having the typical movie villain but maybe having nature or…

Abrams: Oh! I see what you’re saying.  Well, I’m open to anything.  We’ve had some really interesting discussions so far but, you know – you have to be open to everything to find the right thing so the answer is sure, I’m open to that.  I think in a story it’s important to personify, somehow, what you’re up against so it’s a tricky one to figure out how to, like, fight evil wind! (evil look for emphasis).

Star Trek screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have also mentioned the possibilities open to them in recent interviews:

At issue: do they create a fresh plot with never-before-seen characters and scenarios or — because young Kirk and Spock are now part of an alternate timeline where the past has been altered — do they introduce 2.0 versions of such popular villains as the Klingons or Khan? Orci recognizes each approach has its own merits.

Rebooting familiar elements appeals instantly to fans and attracts the attention of “the media-sphere,” as he calls it.

Meaning that if you cast, say, Javier Bardem as the new Khan opposite Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, you’ve automatically excited fans and attracted the attention of the moviegoing public.

“But on the other hand,” he adds, “who doesn’t love an original story?”

That they’re even having this discussion is, they know, is no small feat. But the J. J. Abramsdirected Trek has rejuvenated a franchise once believed dead, grossing more than $245 million so far in North America. (Compared to the $49 million 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis earned.)

“We’d hear that people thought Star Trek was too cold, that women didn’t like it,” Orci says. “But if you look at that period in the 1980s — from Wrath of Khan to the Voyage Home — those movies were very warm; they were about a family.”

Using the Klingons makes sense as they were frequent enemies in past television episodes and movies. There has been a lot of speculation about retelling the stories with Kahn but there is less point in this. Kahn was the villian in one television episode of Star Trek and returned for one of the movies. I would rather see a new story than to retell the original television episode, and the movie with Kahn takes place far later in Kirk’s career.

IO9 discusses the possibility that the next Star Trek movie could include Yeoman Janice Rand:

…co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman tell io9 the next film could feature one of Trek‘s most iconic women.

Yeoman Janice Rand, with her imposing blonde beehive, only appeared in a handful of Trek episodes before disappearing (reportedly because star William Shatner wanted Kirk to have more the opportunity to mack on different women every week.) But since she has a fairly major role in “Charlie X” and “The Enemy Within,” she’s always stood out as one of the most significant female characters on the show, up there with Uhura and Nurse Chapel.

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Lost ended the fourth season with a lot of subplots to tie up. There are rumors that some of the characters who died will be returning. This could be in flashbacks or could be a consequence of the atomic bomb which might have changed history. The Hollywood Reporter says that they will be adding another episode on to the final season.

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The Harry Potter books and movies have already come under frequent attacks from the religious right. Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, has given them another reason in an upcoming interview to appear in Esquire. The Telegraph reports:

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Radcliffe risked the US box office prospects of the new Harry Potter film by declaring himself to be an atheist.

In a pronouncement that will dismay America’s religious Right, which has long voiced suspicions about Potter’s “anti-Christian” message, the 19-year-old actor said he did not believe in God.

He also expressed his admiration for Professor Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist and bete noir of Evangelical Christians.

Radcliffe has been reticent on the subject of religion in the past, but in an interview to promote the latest instalment in the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, released on July 15, he said: “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do. Anything he does on television, I will watch.”

He joked: “There we go, Dan, that’s half of America that’s not going to see the next Harry Potter film on the back of that comment.”

JK Rowling’s stories of the schoolboy wizard are taken very seriously by some Evangelical Christians in the United States. One of the largest Christian groups in the country, Focus on the Family, denounced the books as “witchcraft”.

Conversely, the Church of England published a guide advising youth leaders to use Harry Potter to spread the Christian message, as the characters face “struggles and dilemmas that are familiar to us all”.

Prof Dawkins, author of best-selling book The God Delusion, is no fan of Harry Potter, once remarking that tales of witchcraft are “anti-scientific”.

Harry Potter does show a world in which magic is used in ways which defy the laws of science, but this is presented as fantasy and certainly should not be taken as a claim for the validity of magic.

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I’m not certain about the story in an upcoming movie from Universal but the movie reportedly has a lot of scenes with Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis in bikinis and lingerie. Here is the synopsis:

Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and Faizon Love star in Universal Pictures’ upcoming comedy Couples Retreat. Based on an original idea of Vaughn’s, the comedy follows four Midwestern couples who embark on a journey to a tropical island resort.  While one of the couples is there to work on their marriage, the other three set out to jet ski, spa and enjoy some fun in the sun.  They soon discover that participation in the resort’s couples therapy is not optional.  Suddenly, their group-rate vacation comes at a price.  What follows is a hilarious look at real world problems faced by all couples.

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SciFi Weekend: Science Fiction and Terrorism; Star Trek Time Travel Theories; Eliza Dushku on Dollhouse

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Just under  a year ago I had an item on how the Department of Homeland Security was picking the brains of science fiction writers for creative scientific ideas for fighting terrorism. The Washington Post describes how this is an annual event:

The line between what’s real and what’s not is thin and shifting, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has decided to explore both sides. Boldly going where few government bureaucracies have gone before, the agency is enlisting the expertise of science fiction writers.

Crazy? This week down at the Reagan Building, the 2009 Homeland Security Science & Technology Stakeholders Conference has been going on. Instead of just another wonkish series of meetings and a trade show, with contractors hustling business around every corner, this felt at times more like a convention of futuristic yarn-spinners…

The cost to taxpayers is minimal. The writers call this “science fiction in the national interest,” and they consult pro bono. They’ve been exploring the future, and “we owe it to mankind to come back and report what we’ve found,” said writer Arlan Andrews, who also is an engineer with the Navy in Corpus Christi, Tex.

Andrews founded an organization of sci-fi writers to offer imaginative services in return for travel expenses only. Called Sigma, the group has about 40 writers. Over the years, members have addressed meetings organized by the Department of Energy, the Army, Air Force, NATO and other agencies they care not to name. At first, “to pass the Beltway giggle-factor test,” Andrews recruited only sci-fi writers who had conventional science or engineering chops on their résumés. Now about a third of the writers have PhDs.

…Homeland Security first reached out to science fiction writers a couple of years ago. At last year’s conference, the attendees rated a panel led by the writers as the best of the week “by far,” said Chris Christopher, the agency’s conference director for science and technology.

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J.J. Abrams has discussed some of the theories discussed by Star Trek fans. Abrams used time travel to get around established Star Trek canon but there were some changes which are not still not easily explained even considering the changes made in the time  line by Nero.

The “Kelvin Crew Knows Who Romulans Are” Theory: In the classic “Trek” series, humans didn’t know what Romulans looked like prior to Captain Kirk’s time; in the new film, a Romulan craft kills the humans aboard the U.S.S. Kelvin. According to one fan theory, the attack on the Kelvin leads to a slip-up by Abrams, because the human crew recognize their attackers as Romulans.

“It’s not mentioned in the scene on the Kelvin, but they are aware of it,” Abrams confirmed, agreeing with the sharp-sighted fans. “Because later in the movie, Kirk mentions that they were Romulan. And we very purposely begin the film with a moment that, for fans of ‘Star Trek,’ is a left turn from the timeline they are familiar with.” For anyone who thinks they “caught” Abrams, however, the director is quick to point out the opposite. “For fans of ‘Trek,’ yes, the Romulans appearing breaks with what is known to be ‘Trek’ canon. But that is on purpose.”

The “Sleeker, Faster Response” Theory: If the new “Trek” gives us the Enterprise equivalent of a Blu-Ray disk, then the ship on the original “Trek” looks like a Betamax tape. One fan theory is that the attack on the Kelvin forced the Federation to build sleeker, faster spacecraft in the movie’s new reality.

“Right,” agreed Abrams. “The idea of the story is that at the beginning of the film something happens that changes the course of history. They cross paths with this futuristic ship, and it changes everything that would’ve been the classic series ‘Trek’ fans are familiar with. … One could argue that, based on the readings they got from the [Romulan] ship that showed up, it inspired ideas and technology that wouldn’t have advanced otherwise.” Hence, the huge difference between the old Enterprise and his version. “On the one hand, you could answer the question by saying that history got a boost, an adjustment, from this moment at the beginning of the film,” he grinned. “And if you don’t want to answer the question, you could say it’s just a movie.”

At least on the interior views I would prefer to stick with saying it is just a movie as opposed to questionable theories such as these. Who would really expect a movie released in 2009 to stick to the cardboard effects of the 1960’s? I’m willing to accept a newer view of the Enterprise without need for an explanation.

Changing the time line does solve one problem. One of the reasons William Shatner was not used in Abram’s first Star Trek movie is that in the Roddenberry Star Trek universe James Kirk was killed.  Now that they are in a new time line, Abrams has said this leaves open the possibility of old Kirk or Kahn appearing. Unfortunately using Shatner as old Kirk would mean yet more time travel, which has been over used. I would prefer not to see time travel used in the next few Star Trek movies unless they have a really good idea, or they use it to repair the time line.  There is really no reason to bring back the older Kahn as they can retell the original meeting between Kahn and the Enterprise if they desire, possibly with differences in the Abrams time line.

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Eliza Dushku was interviewed by TV Guide after Dollhouse was renewed:

TVGuide.com: Will the “missing” 13th episode, “Epitaph One,” now serve as the Season 2 premiere? Or is it still DVD-only?
Dushku: You know, I dont know. I just got off the plane, so I dont know.

TVGuide.com: “Epitaph One,” which was produced on the studio’s own dime, was used to convince Fox that Dollhouse can be delivered on a smaller budget. Are there any differences the viewer might pick up on?
Dushku: No, our set is pretty solid and top dollar. I think the show will continue to be visually stunning.

TVGuide.com: So, as you filmed it, you didn’t pick up on anything different?
Dushku: Well, it was faster — and that’s always nice!

TVGuide.com: How will Echo be different going forward, considering the events of the season finale?
Dushku: Being downloaded with all the personalities, the build-up was about Echo becoming self-aware. It will give the audience a chance to connect with Echo more, because she’s not just that blank slate. There’s something behind her eyes creeping out. That’s the center of the show — can you really erase someone’s identity? The answer seems to be no.

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SciFi Friday: Lost Spoilers; Star Trek and Boston Legal; Kristen Bell as Princess Leia Slave Girl; and Respecting Jessica Simpson

Lost returns on January 31 and will air Thursdays at 9 pm. The video above shows a trailer for the upcoming season and gives a (very slight) hint regarding the cliff hanger from last season. Charlie is also seen, but considering he is dead I suspect this is some sort of vision. More spoilers regarding the Oceanic 6 are available here for those who want further clues as to the direction the show might be going.

Boston Legal must have set the record for the most appearances by actors and actresses who have appeared in any of the versions of Star Trek. William Shatner isn’t going to be the only starship captain on the show as Scott Bakula (Enterprise) will be making a guest appearance. A comprehensive guide to the cross overs between Star Trek and Boston Legal is available here. Bakula also appeared as Murphy Brown’s love interest in 1993 and he will be appearing with Candice Bergen during this guest appearance. Boston Legal’s season ends December 14 due to the strike.

If Boston Legal likes everything Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica really likes Bajorans. After giving a prominent guest appearance to Michelle Forbes in the episodes involving the Pegasus, as well as in the made for television movie Razor, another former Star Trek actress who played a Bajoran will appear next season. Nana Visitor (Kira Nerys on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) will play Emily, a cancer patient who Laura Roslin gets to know in sickbay. More information on the upcoming season of Battlestar Galactica is available here.

The scenes of Princess Leia as a slave girl in Return of the Jedi has been a major fantasy for geeks for the last generation. (Photo of the original in this previous post.) Kristen Bell has recreated this image for her role in Fanboys, with two pictures above.


In researching this post (tough job, somebody’s got to do it) I also discovered that Olivia Munn of G4’s Attack Of The Show also did the Leia slave girl thing last spring (pictured above).


And, finally, Female First reports that Jessica Simpson is desperate to be respected as an actress and has found a role which she believes will grant her this:

Jessica is in the running for a role that, if she gets it, will put her right on the map in terms of acting. The only hitch is that the script requires a number of quite graphic scenes including a full-frontal nude scene. Jessica is so desperate to land the role and get the industry’s respect that she’s ready to go against her better judgement, and her family, by agreeing to bare all.

Yes, Jessica, do it. I promise to respect you if you do.

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