SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Atlantis; SHIELD; Arrow; Last Week’s Revelation on Homeland; The Blacklist; Once Upon A Time In Wonderland; Star Trek; Star Wars; American Blackout; X-Men; Time Travel; Dealing With A Zombie Apocalypse

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Matt Smith and David Tennant worked very well together during filming of The Day of the Doctor according to Steven Moffat:

Matt Smith and David Tennant got on so well while filming the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special that they hatched a plan to continue working together on the show, says Steven Moffat.

“They got on like a couple of old women. They just say in the corner and gossiped the entire time,” revealed the Doctor Who showrunner.

“By the end of it, Matt told me that he’d worked out this plan that they’d both continue in Doctor Who: do five individual episodes each and three together – would that be ok? It was a nice plan. I think if I’d said yes they’d have gone for it.”

However, Moffat admitted that neither star had started out completely confident about bringing their two Doctors together.

“David and Matt, I think… were both quite apprehensive of the other,” Moffat told the audience at a Radio Times event earlier this month. “David’s continued to watch Doctor Who like the sad old fan he is and so as far as he’s concerned Matt’s the Doctor. And of course for Matt, you don’t believe yourself you’re the Doctor, you just think David’s the Doctor. So they were both slightly nervous and slightly apprehensive.”

Steven Moffat also told Radio Times that John Hurt would steal scenes with his eyes:

“It was great fun,” said Moffat. “You’d have David and Matt, they’d be leaping around the set and doing every form of physical comedy with each other – and, you know, slightly competing about who could be slightly more insane than the other – and then John Hurt would come along and do this [tiny movement] with his eyes and you go ‘That’s it – he’s got the scene now hasn’t he?’”

Moffat has also discussed the return of the Zygons:

Steven Moffat says bringing back the Zygons has been an ambition since he took over Doctor Who – and that the classic monsters are so well designed he hardly had to change a thing for their return in the 50th Anniversary Special.

“Every year since I took over I’ve been trying to get the Zygons in,” says Steven Moffat, “and then I thought ‘Well, it’s the 50th…’

“The Zygons are beautifully designed monsters, they are so wonderful… We barely changed the design at all because it was so good.”

The classic Who foes have appeared just once before, in 1975 adventure Terror of the Zygons, yet remain a firm fan favourite.

Cult Box interviewed Doctor Who composer Murray Gold. H:ere is just one question on the show’s theme, which has changed with the lead actor:

Have you started thinking about what the 12th Doctor’s theme will sound like? Are you going to miss using the 11th Doctor’s wonderful theme?!

“I’m not 100% certain they will let me drop that theme entirely… but yes, I have started to think about it. I really need to see Peter in the role to get it all firing up.”

Peter Salus looked at the history of computers in Doctor Who.

Sherlock season 3 will premiere in the United States on PBS on January 19 at 10 p.m. This means it will air back to back with Downtown Abbey, which starts on January 5 in the United States. Downton Abbey is already well into the season on ITV (with a rather major event for Anna at one point during the season so far). The BBC has not announced when Sherlock will return in the U.K.

Atlantis (the replacement for Merlin) will premiere in the United States on November 23, after The Day of the Doctor.

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Agents of SHIELD and Arrow are extending further into the Marvel and DC universes respectively. SHIELD has come up against Centipede, plus expect more connections to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. On Arrow, Oliver was saved by the Black Canary, who turns out to have been working in the past for Ra’s al Ghul, ultimately tying into Batman. We will see more of this Black Canary next week, and will have to wait and see  how things play out regarding the discrepancy with her identity in the comics. Situations and characters do tend to evolve gradually on Arrow.

Arrow, while well-done and quite entertaining  for its genre, does trace back to the teen/young adult form of genre common on CW. In this vein, CBS is considering a reboot of Charmed.

Anastasia and Will Wonderland

I think that Once Upon A Time would have worked better if they stuck to the first season’s story as opposed to trying to stretch it out into a conventional multi-year television series. American television often is of a lower quality than British television due to the usual format requirements in the US.  Once Upon A Time In Wonderland shows promise partially because it is planned as a single season story. Last week Alice learned more about the White Rabbit but the story is not limited to Wonderland. Any Disney fan has to just love to see Robin Hood and his Merry Men rob Maleficent’s  castle, as occurred on last week’s episode. Then there was the revelation that Will’s girlfriend Anastasia becomes the Red Queen.

I was happy to see that last week’s episode of The Blacklist delved more into Elizabeth and her husband, with implications that more is to come next week. I do hope the series concentrates more on this mythology as opposed to being a villain of the week series. According to E!, episode eight is also major:

Episode eight is a big one. Don’t miss it. Oh, you want more than that? Fine. Not only does someone on the team get severely injured in the episode, but Red comes face to face with one of his mortal enemies. Someone Red is scared of? This we can’t wait to see!

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Showtime has renewed Homeland and Masters of Sex. The big revelation on Homeland last week didn’t come as very much of a surprise. In many ways it is more plausible that Saul and Carrie are working together consider the past working relationship between the two and the fact that Saul knows that Brody’s confession tape had to be a set-up. On the other hand, Carrie sure played her role at all times she was seen on television. I would have to go back to past episodes to verify this, but I believe this includes times in which there was nobody else watching her beyond the television audience. Alex Gansa discussed the revelation with TV Guide:

In your mind, when did Carrie and Saul hatch this master plan?
Alex Gansa:
 I think they decided the very next day after the bomb went off. Carrie and Saul were culpable in what happened, and they were looking for some way to make good, to make it right, to get the guy who was ultimately responsible. They began to hatch the plan right then to figure out how to lure the bad guy of the season, Javadi, out of his anonymity in Iran.

So, Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and Quinn (Rupert Friend) don’t know about this?
Gansa: For the first four episodes they were totally outside the circle. This was a ruse and a plot that was hatched just between Carrie and Saul.

There were a lot of machinations to this plot. Saul continued to pursue Javadi on his own, for example. Was that just to throw the audience off or was it a backup plan?
Gansa:
 One of the things that our intelligence officer consultants [told us] is that the most effective intelligence operations are 95 percent true. Carrie and Saul were largely to blame for what happened and [they knew] the CIA would be looking for a scapegoat to take the blame. How would they turn that into a silver lining? This was a huge gamble, and Carrie was asked to sacrifice a lot in that gamble. It’s not a sure thing, so Saul was really playing all sides of the equation here. And you will see that he’s got a Phase 2 of the operation in mind, which he is not sharing with Carrie. Saul is very much the puppeteer here. He’s the maestro.

Why would Carrie react the way she did to Saul “outing” her during his senate testimony if she knew this was all a scam?
Gansa: 
Saul is the one who leaked the idea that she was having a sexual relationship with Brody to the committee. Carrie was aware that he was doing that. However, it doesn’t diminish the reality of it when it’s actually presented in front of you. When we were shooting it, we were talking to Claire about, “This moment is going to have to play two ways. It’s going to have to play one way if the audience is watching it for the first time not understanding that this is a ruse.” But when you go back and look at it again, you’ll understand that she’s not surprised by what she’s hearing. She’s amazed at how it affects her to understand that she is to blame for what happened. That’s where the emotion catches up with her in an unexpected way.

There’s more at The Hollywood Reporter, including how Brody will fit into the storyline:

How will Brody figure in to all of this?

I will say that Brody becomes a principal player in the architecture of the last sweep of episodes. His predicament down in Caracas and his separation from Carrie and Saul is really paramount as we move into the next two movements of the season.

Did you have any reservations about having an episode (“Tower of David”) that was almost exclusively from Brody’s point of view?

It was really a function of how much story was to be told there. Just anecdotally, some people felt we were with him too much and others felt we were with him too little. It felt right to us to establish his predicament and to parallel his plight with Carrie’s. These are two people in some very desperate circumstances. The show has paralleled their stories before and some of the most successful episodes that we have done have drawn comparisons between their predicaments.

I just saw this commercial from May. It has to be the best car commercial ever. Spock v. Spock. May the best Spock win.

I don’t find it to be a good sign when there is a need to change writers for Star Wars VII.

The National Geographic Channel is airing a fictionalized account of the consequences of a catastrophic ten day cyberattack:

As the power grid goes down across the country, the streets quickly descend into chaos while consumers ransack stores for bottled water and canned goods.

Those without sufficient cash handy are quickly in dire straits, since no electricity means no credit cards or ATMs, either.

Meanwhile, the heroes of the day are “doomsday preppers” who have had the foresight to stockpile a couple years’ worth of bottled water, batteries, and military-style meals-ready-to-eat in secret underground bunkers.

This is the scenario explored in “American Blackout,” the National Geographic Channel’s fictionalized account of a 10-day-long power outage precipitated by a cyberattack.

What Culture has ten alcoholic drinks from Mad Men which you must try.

Screen Rant reports that X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Trailer Preview Includes a Time-Traveling Wolverine

Is time travel even possible? See the above video from TED-ED. No X-Men but it includes plenty of scenes with a TARDIS. It only deals with time travel into the future. No hope we will be visited by Kiera Cameron of Continuum.

Some people think that TED Talks fail to deal with real problems. The above DED Talk might be more practical after a zombie apocalypse.

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SciFi Weekly: Doctor Who; SHIELD; JK Rowling Exposed as Mystery Writer; Star Trek3; Summer Glau; Kristen Bell; The Newsroom

A prom apparently has a different meaning in the U.K. than in the United States. There were rumors that the identity of the next Doctor would be revealed at a prom this weekend. That didn’t occur, but there was an appearance by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in the video above.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Steven Moffat. Following are some of the more interesting/news worthy answers:

Are you hoping the new Doctor will appear in this year’s Christmas special?
Yes. That’s not the hope — that’s the plan. It’ll be the traditional regeneration. You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show. I mean, you sometimes sit and think, “Are there better ways of doing it? Is there a different way of doing it?” But quite honestly what could be better than that? It’s just too exciting. [Laughs]

Am I right in thinking that the new series—the first post-Matt shows—will be broadcast in late summer 2014?
I think that’s probably right. But these things change so often.

What can you tell us about this November’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary show?
[Laughs] Oh, well, very, very little. It will feature of course Matt and Jenna Coleman, but in addition there’ll be Billie Piper and David Tennant and John Hurt. But we’ve been really quite careful. We have a philosophy that anything we shot outside we had to own up to but the rest of it…You’re just going to have to wait until November to find out about.

What is the format of the 50th anniversary special? Is it movie-length?
It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. [Laughs] It’s certainly well over an hour.

How much longer do you yourself intend to stay with the show?
I think a year at a time. I’ve signed up for this next year, with the new Doctor. It’s one of those jobs when you know when you’ve had enough. At the moment I haven’t had enough and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’m very excited for the challenge of the new Doctor and establishing that new Doctor. So, no plans to leave as yet. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be here for 20 years. There will come that day when I think it’s time someone else had a go and it’s time I did something else.

You’re also the executive producer of Sherlock. Have you finished shooting the new series yet?
Oh, I wish! We’ve done two. But we’ve now got a small gap — a small gap? A large gap! — while Martin (Freeman) goes back to New Zealand to film a bit more of the Hobbit and then he’ll return to us. Hopefully, by that time, I’ll actually have finished the Sherlock script I’m writing and we’ll make another one.

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Entertainment Weekly has picked up some news on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in preparation for their Comic-Con panel. Here are a couple of the top items:

1. The pilot hints at how mild-mannered kick-ass bureaucrat Agent Coulson (Clarke Gregg) was resurrected  to lead the team after being killed off in The Avengers (his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues say he must “never know the truth” about his death). Yet you’ll have to keep watching to learn the full story. “We can’t wait to pull the curtain back on that,” says co-creator Jed Whedon. “[But] we’re going to take our time.”

2. The S.H.I.E.L.D. story will work in tandem with the Marvel films, both past and upcoming. In fact, the first episode will pick up a storyline that’s familiar from one of the Marvel hits — and it’s not The Avengers. “We plan on trying to weave in between the films and try to make them more rewarding on both ends,” says Jed Whedon, who points out the trick is to make the audience not ask a certain fanboy-bar-fight-style question: “In any of these [episodes], you can always ask: ‘Why don’t they just call Iron Man?’” Yeah, that would be annoying! So our next question is: Why don’t they just call Iron Man? “They are aware of each other,” Whedon says of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and the metal-suited Malibu playboy, “but they do have to have their own lives.”

Cuckoo Calling

J.K. Rowling had a detective novel published under the name of Robert Galbraith earlier this year, with her identity leaking out this week. io9 has a rundown of reviews of the novel, which sound quite favorable. Conveniently, the book is scheduled for paperback release later this month.

Zachary Quinto has this speculation regarding the next Star Trek movie:  “Star Trek 3 should be filming, I suppose, next year. It’s going to be made a lot quicker than the last one. That’s the plan, although nothing is confirmed yet.” That would make it difficult for J.J. Abrams to direct as he will be busy with Star Wars. Presumably they will want to release the next movie for the 50th Anniversary in 2016.

With J.J. Abrams directing movies for both franchises, and with the recent Star Trek movies in many ways being more Star Wars than classic Star Trek, the old Star Wars vs. Star Trek fan wars seem to have died out. George Lucas provides more reason for peace between the two:

The documentary “Trek Nation” chronicles Rod Roddenberry’s personal journey to explore the importance of the legendary sci-fi franchise dreamed up by his father Gene.

The film comes to DVD on Tuesday, and among the bonus materials included in the release is an interview with “Star Wars” creator George Lucas talking about the important role “Star Trek” played in paving the way for his own space opera.

“‘Star Trek’ softened up the entertainment arena so that ‘Star Wars’ could come along and stand on its shoulders,” Lucas said in an interview.

While Star Trek worked far better as a weekly show than as movies, it also must be kept in mind that Star Trek probably would have never been released as a movie, reviving the franchise, if not for the success of Star Wars.

Summer Glau

Summer Glau has been cast for a recurring role on Arrow:

Glau, who has amassed plenty of genre street cred in TV series like Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and most recently as a recurring on Syfy’s Alphas, is set to play the dangerous Isabel Rochev, Vice President of Acquisitions of Stellmoor International, a company looking to take over Queen Consolidated.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Kristen Bell (currently busy filming the Veronica Mars movie) will have a guest appearance on Parks and Recreations next season, in an episode to air in early October:

After shooting the Veronica Mars movie, Kristen Bell will guest-star in an episode of NBC’s Parks and Recreation as Ingrid, a snooty City Councilwoman from Eagleton. “She’s Leslie’s equivalent, but richer and better dressed,” executive producer Michael Schur tells EW. The two will first meet up at the annual Pawnee-Eagleton high school basketball game. Bell and Parks actor Adam Scott previously worked together on Party Down and Veronica Mars, and she currently stars with frequent Parks guest Ben Schwartz on House of Lies.

A lot happened in last week’s True Blood–the type of changes and revelations we might not have expected until towards the end of past seasons. The show certainly has its flaws, and I almost gave up on it a few times, but enough is happening this season to keep my interest.

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The Newsroom returns for a second season tonight. Oliva Munn discussed preparation for her role on The Newsroom with Vanity Fair:

“I write a lot of notes in my scripts,” she explains. “It’s important for me to have them there as a reference so I can keep on track for what I’m wanting to convey. Sometimes, no matter how much I prepare, I can let my emotions of the day affect my choices in a scene, so I like to have my notes with me to remind myself of what track I should be on. And with scripts as complicated and rich as Sorkin’s, it’s vital for me. My notes become my sheet music.”’

Netflix is quickly establishing itself as a service worth subscribing to for its original content now that there are multiple choices for on-demand movies. Orange Is The New Black premiered this week and is up to premium cable standards, and they are negotiating for a second season of Arrested Development. Besides their original series, Netflix recently released the excellent BBC2 series The Fall before it completed its run in the UK.

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SciFi Weekend: The Name of the Doctor and Star Trek Into Darkness

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This was a weekend steeped in tradition with the two oldest science fiction franchises both having a major event. The season of Doctor Who concluded with The Name of The Doctor, which leads directly into the 50th anniversary episode, and a new Star Trek movie was released. As usual, the review of Doctor Who contains spoilers but it is posted a day after the episode aired.  Fortunately those who received the episode early in error kept quiet. Movies are harder to deal with as people view them at different times. There are also major spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness, many of which have been revealed in other reviews.

After a season of near-misses, especially in the second half, Moffat really delivered with The Name of the Doctor. The episode dealt with the entire history of the Doctor and events in recent episodes were important in making the episode work. Now that we have seen where Moffat was headed, the season as a whole looks much better as a long story arc in retrospect, even if each chapter was not perfect. Obviously Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen were necessary to see Clara die while saving the Doctor.  It was important to show Vastra, Jennie, and Strax as friends of the Doctor in The Snowmen and The Crimson Horror to believe the Doctor would take such a great risk to try to save them. It was part of her story for Clara to learn of her significance and then lose the memory in  Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS.

The introductory sequence might be the best ever seen on Doctor Who. It begins on Gallifrey with the question, “What kind of idiot would try to steal a faulty TARDIS?” Clara appears telling the first Doctor, accompanied by Susan, “Doctor, sorry, but you’re about to make a big mistake.”  The episode also includes glimpses of the other Doctors. There was the return of The Great Intelligence along with a new monster, The Whispermen.

Clara Letter

The story initially centers around leading the Doctor to Trenzalore, including a clever way to have Vastra, Jenna, Strax, Clara, and River Pond communicate over time. “Time travel has always been possible in dreams” makes no sense, but is accepted to propel the story.

We already knew that Trenazlore was connected to the fall of the eleventh, but it also turns out to be the site of the Doctor’s tomb and apparently the fall of Doctors beyond the eleventh. As the TARDIS resisted taking the Doctor to this one place in the universe where he should never go, there was also a literal fall to the surface.

We saw both what happens to a TARDIS and to a Time Lord following their death. The Doctor’s real name was necessary to open his tomb, but was spoken by River Song without the viewer hearing it. It was no surprise that we did not learn the name and the title of the episode was mild misdirection on Moffat’s part. Moffat also deceived us in other interviews about the episode, but Moffat’s lies are always forgiven when he delivers a great show. A character did die, but was also restored to life. Or perhaps he was referring to River Song. The episode appears intended to her final meeting with the Doctor, but does not prevent her from returning, especially from an earlier point in her time line. The very nature of her appearance in this episode raises questions which may or may not be answered beyond the simple explanations provided.

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The claim that this would be a season of stand alone episodes was also not completely true. Besides the finale being largely a chapter in a story which must include prior episodes of this season, The Name of the Doctor ends on a cliff hanger.

By the end we did learn both the explanation for Clara Oswald and the Doctor’s greatest secret. Nobody would have figured out Clara’s explanation without the events of The Name of the Doctor as she was fragmented over time after entering the Doctor’s time stream. I do have a couple of nitpicks with what we learned here.

Echoes of Clara were with the Doctor throughout his life, often saving him from the changes to the Doctor’s time stream created by The Great Intelligence. When Clara told the Doctor he was making a mistake when first stealing a TARDIS, the mistake was merely in the TARDIS he planned to take and she directed him to another in which “the navigation system’s knackered” and he will have more fun.  This conflicts with The Doctor’s Wife in which it was the TARDIS who influenced the Doctor to steal her. The scene would have worked better if the Doctor went on to take the TARDIS he first tried to steal despite Clara’s warning. This would have also provided an explanation for the TARDIS disliking Clara earlier in the season. Maybe this was even intended and it is just not clear that he ignored Clara’s advice but I do believe he took the one which Clara recommended.

Clara Time Stream

My other complaint is that Clara spoke of seeing all eleven  Doctors, but if this was the remnant of his entire time stream after he died she should have seen versions of the Doctor beyond the eleventh. They could have shown glimpses of others without faces and refrain from having Clara specify eleven. Ultimately one other version is shown with a contradiction present. He is presented as a version which does not deserve to be the Doctor for his actions but the episode ends with the caption, “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor.”

We have until November 23 to find out what this means. There was mention of the Valeyard, the evil version of the Doctor from between the twelfth and final regeneration, during the episode, yet more evidence of Moffat’s respect for the entire history of the show. While John Hurt could be playing him, interviews so far suggest he is a regeneration from between the eighth and ninth Doctors (added when Christoper Eccleston declined to appear in the 50th anniversary episode). He is apparently the Doctor’s greatest secret for what he did. So far we only know that “broke the promise” which comes from choosing the name of the Doctor. This might be referring to actions during the Time Wars, or perhaps to events we are not yet aware of.

However this ends, Moffat has given us a tremendous season and appears to be on the way to making a major addition to the Doctor’s history and mythology.

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We will be anxiously awaiting the 50th anniversary episode, and the eight season since the reboot has been officially announced.

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

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Star Trek Into Darkness is an entertaining movie well worth seeing but it is not great Star Trek. J.J. Abrams knows how to make a great action movie (even if there is too much lens-flare) but he does not really understand Star Trek. The plot is a series of contrivances for a series of action scenes, lacking Gene Roddenbery’s vision which made Star Trek great. Wil Wheaton has already responded to Abrams’ failing to understand the importance of philosophy to Star Trek. This was far more Star Wars than true Star Trek.

Partially in Abrams’ defense, Star Trek should be a television series, not movie. It takes a weekly television series to develop the characters and show the philosophy of Star Trek in a series of smaller stories as opposed to big action scenes. Unfortunately the movies thrive on big action scenes, and the original movie series also failed to live up to the quality of the television shows. A movie which was true to Star Trek would have to be directed more towards Star Trek fans than a mass audience. Star Trek The Motion Picture did avoid the big action scenes and was not a great success, but it also had other flaws.

Abrams depends even more on the big action scenes than the original movie series, moving from one to the other at the expense of a logical plot or really dealing with issues. Thus we have a few lines of explanation for Khan’s motivations (including a reference to Section 31 which I did enjoy) but Abrams did not develop the character as well as in either Space Seed or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Benedict Cumberbatch did play an excellent villain with the material available.

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Admiral Marcus turned out to be a second villain but his motivations did not seem realistic. It s one thing to bend the rules to get Star Fleet to prepare for a war you feel is coming. It is another thing to attempt to destroy the Enterprise or to directly try to provoke war with the Klingons. The movie also had one thing in common with the other recent blockbuster, Iron Man 3. Both include a character who is influenced into betraying others to help their child.

There is some degree of political controversy and references to current events in the movie. Khan was the terrorist on Kronos in an analogy to today’s terrorists in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. The morality of using drones to kill a terrorist versus taking the terrorist into custody for a fair trial was raised. This was dealt with too simply with Khan being in an unpopulated area where capturing him seemed to be a more realistic option.

I do wish the timeline could be fixed as it was on The Name of the Doctor, but we must deal with the J.J. Abrams alternative timeline for now. I did not object, as some fans did in response to rumors of Khan’s appearance, to this retelling of the story. It was plausible that Admiral Marcus might have found the Botany Bay at an earlier point in history, and after the destruction of Vulcan might tried to make use of Khan.

There were other changes in this timeline compared to the original timeline. For example, they actually thought to put seat belts on the bridge.

Carol Marcus

While obviously it relates to changes in our culture as opposed to Nero’s changes in the timeline, sexual attitudes are different. On one hand, Kirk is still the womanizer, and they added a young, beautiful, and scantily clad Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) to the movie and trailer to increase interest in the movie. In other ways things were different. Kirk started on his five year mission to go “where on one has gone before.” It took us from the original series to Star Trek The Next Generation to update from “where no man has gone before.” Uhura had a far more active role. For the most part I liked this, except in the scene where Uhura was beamed down to join Spock in fighting Khan. This should have been a big guy whose primary job involved fighting, not a communications officer. Of course the original Star Trek would have been unrealistic in its own way. Captain Kirk would have been the one to beam down, simultaneously placing the Captain and First Officer in danger.

A surprise in this movie which is an obvious consequence from the previous movie was how  Spock took advantage of his counterpart from the original timeline to obtain information about Khan. This did allow Spock to figure out that Khan could not be trusted, but there were plenty of other clues even without contacting New Vulcan. This does present the danger of providing an easy way to get answers in further adventures, which might be avoided by facing different dangers or by being too far out into deep space to contact the original Spock. It was a surprise to see Leonard Nimoy in this movie, and it is questionable as to how much longer he will be able or willing to put on those Vulcan ears and appear on screen. They also met up with Tribbles earlier in this timeline and a Tribble played a key role.

Compared to The Wrath of Khan, this movie reversed Kirk and Spock making the sacrifice and screaming out the name of Khan. For a moment I feared they might be leaving the resurrection of James Kirk to the next movie as was done with Spock in the original series. Thankfully everything was resolved in this installment.

Spock Uhura

I did not like some of the changes in technology from the original timeline.  I did not like having Khan being able to easily transport himself from earth to Kronos. This is not Doctor Who. I disliked even more having Star Fleet build bigger ships for battle. The Enterprise is already much larger. While the Enterprise was built primarily for exploration, it is still the flagship for Star Fleet. Military threats should be handled by the Enterprise and other similar star ships, and there should not be bigger, more powerful ships to rely on.

Ultimately The Name of the Doctor will be remembered as significant and rewatched by fans. Star Trek Into Darkness provided a very entertaining night at the movies, which isn’t all bad, but it was a one-shot affair without much significance to Star Trek history. I just hope it is successful enough to eventually lead to a new television series. A cable television show does not need the mass audience of a blockbuster movie to succeed.

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SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Into Darkness; Firefly; Doctor Who; Watching British Genre Shows; Community Returns

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There are more rumors that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in Star Trek Into Darkness is really Khan based upon the Entertainment Weekly cover story on the movie. At one point (since changed) the listing for sales of back issues described the cover featuring Kirk and Cumberbatch’s character as Kirk and Khan. (A second cover has Kirk and Spock). This hardly proves anything as whoever set up the orders page might have simply been influenced by the rumors as opposed to having any inside information.

There initially was a lot of speculation that the villain of the second movie under Abrams (as with the second movie of the original movie series) would center around Khan. When initial previews came out, further similarities to Gary Mitchell were noticed. It is certainly possible that the movie might be influenced by one or both stories from the original series, or perhaps neither. If the Khan stories are used as an influence for this movie, the story would most likely be more along the lines of Space Seed, when Khan was first found during the original series, than Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There probably would be some major changes from the original story to reconcile the original Khan story and what we have seen in the clips so far.

Regardless of whether the character is based upon Khan and the aftermath of the Eugenics War, we can be certain that J.J. Abrams will be more careful in not tying himself to a history of the near future. When the original series was released in the mid 1960′s, it did not seem likely that people would still be watching Star Trek in the 1990′s and beyond when the Eugenics Wars were written to occur. (I have not read the books, but I have heard that they do attempt to reconcile this inconsistency between the Star Trek history and what we have observed by having the Eugenics War be more clandestine than the open all-out war I previously imagined). Abrams has already taken large steps to free himself from Star Trek canon by having a time line independent of the previous shows and movies. I question whether he would want to tie himself to a back story of a war in the 1990′s making me suspect that even if the character is modeled on Khan the back story will be different.

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It was only in response to questions on the subject, but Joss Whedon has kept speculation alive about a return for Firefly:

Cancelled by Fox in 2002 before its first season had even run its course, the sci-fi western Firefly frequently lands on lists of TV shows that fans would love to see resurrected. But more than a decade on, there’s obviously no hope Firefly will return. Is there?

“I’ll never really accept it,” Whedon said of the end of Firefly, when I spoke to him during his stop in Toronto a while back. “And I always, in the back of my head, think, ‘What if I could get the old gang back together?’ ”

OK, you’ve got my attention now. Get the Firefly gang back together? Do go on.

“Well, you know, it’s something I would love to do,” Whedon said. He even admits to being a sucker for this sort of punishment: “When I made Serenity (2005′s feature film continuation of Firefly’s storyline), I said here’s one thing I’ll never do again — a movie based on something that some people know about and some people don’t, with tons of characters who all know each other and who you have to introduce.

“And then my second movie was The Avengers.”

Of course, there are all kinds of obstacles preventing any television or film resurrection of Firefly. Not the least of which is — spoiler alert! — fan-favourite character Wash (Alan Tudyk) was unceremoniously killed in Serenity. (One diehard fan recently analyzed Wash’s death in an attempt to prove the Reaver harpoon that impaled him could never have penetrated Serenity’s hull. Unfortunately, the movie math held up)…

Firefly’s flame has not been fully, irrevocably extinguished — “Part of me is like, ‘God, it would be great when I finish Avengers 2 to do that,’ ” Whedon said — but given the mountains of exhausting work Whedon already has on his plate, the odds don’t look good for Capt. Mal and company.

Cyberman Clara

Neil Gaiman’s episode of Doctor Who for the second half of this season is to be entitled The Last Cyberman. Although Matt Smith has a role in an American movie, Steven Moffat denies that a regeneration is imminent.

The BBC is talking about offering episodes of some shows on line on their iPlayer before the shows are aired. This is yet another reason to get the Hola Unblocker add on for Firefox or Chrome which, among other things, allows people outside of the UK to access iPlayer. It also allows people to view Netflix in countries where it is not available. Yes, there are other ways to do this, but this appears to be the simplest.

Don’t bother doing this in hopes of catching Being Human any earlier–it has been cancelled after the fifth season.

I don’t know which shows will be available ahead of the broadcast date, but the latest BBC genre show worth getting (whether by downloading or iPlayer) is Utopia. I don’t want to give anything away (and I’ve only seen some of the episodes) but it involves a graphic novel which appears to contain secret information and a government conspiracy to get more information about it, among other evil activities.

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Community returned this week, once again up against The Big Bang Theory, showing why VCR’s and DVR’s are essential. The two questions coming into the season were whether the  show would be turned into a more conventional sitcom and whether it would suffer quality-wise without Dan Harmon. The answer to the first question appears to be no, with the first episode even including a safe place in Abed’s head which showed the difference between Community and conventional sitcoms.

The show is still filtered by different show runners and it will be necessary to see more to determine how the show stands up to Dan Harmon’s work. One difference from the start of the season is that there is now a relationship between Britta and Troy. The lack of such relationships between main characters did differentiate Community from most other sitcoms, but this does not mean that continuing this absence is essential. What matters is how the relationship is handled, and whether it does open new avenues for stories this season without looking like every other sitcom relationship. I was glad to see that Chang was just seen briefly at the end. His character works best in small doses.

New show runners Moses Port and David Guarascio were interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter. They are hopeful that Community might get a fifth season since NBC is losing 30 Rock and The Office. They did find the delay in airing to be a disadvantage since all the episode are now filmed and they could not take fan reaction into account, which might have been helpful with the changes this season.

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Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie were asked about their relationship on the show and their love of porn:

TWoP: It’s been fun to watch how Britta and Annie’s friendship has evolved over the course of the show. Has that been equally enjoyable for you both to play?
Gillian: I like that it flipped at a certain point and Annie started mentoring Britta.
Allison: Yeah, it’s always been a sisterly relationship. It was a bit competitive at first with Jeff, but we got that out of the way very quickly and then it was always Annie looking up to Britta. And now it’s flipped around and it’s like, “Maybe I can give her some advice.”
Gillian: Yeah, it took Annie a little too long to realize that Britta didn’t know what the hell was going on. I really enjoyed the “Blade” episode last season where she was calling me a lying junkie and locking me in her bedroom. And it’s interesting to see that dynamic play out this season with Britta joining the Troy/Abed/Annie household sometimes.

TWoP: Community is a big target for ‘shippers, who have paired up pretty much every study group partner at this point. Have you ever seen any Annie/Britta shipping?
Alison: Oh yeah.
Gillian: Yeah, definitely. Alison and I did a photo shoot for GQ that probably prompted a lot of that shipping. I think we’ve seen every possible fan combination. Donald [Glover] sent me some fan porn of Troy and Britta that someone had sent to him.
Alison: I saw some with Troy and Abed.

TWoP: So you do read Community fan fic?
Alison: Just the porn. [Laughs]
Gillian: I read enough to know what it was and then I was like, “Oh my!”
Alison: I just saw pictures! Mine was like pornographic cartoons.
Gillian: Oh, mine was a written-out thing. I just scanned it.

TWoP: Maybe someone can go through and change all the names, publish it and it can become the next 50 Shades of Grey.
Gillian: Yup — Seven Shades of Weird.

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SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Sherlock; Doctor Who News; Spock and The Big Bang Theory

Fringe started out the season slowly as it introduced another time line in which Peter had died as a child. The story built up gradually, leading to Peter coming into this timeline. Finally, in what was supposed to be the fall finale but was delayed until January due to baseball, Peter went over to the other universe seeking Walternate’s help in returning home. This week’s episode followed up on this storyline, where Walternate appears to be a good guy but alternate Broyles and the Nina Sharp of our universe appear to be behind the shape shifters as well as the experiments on Olivia. Apparently running away from Walter’s experiments in this time line wasn’t enough. Olivia was perhaps always fated to be the subject of experiments (as well as being fated to die in that time line according to the Observer with a gunshot wound).

Fringe very gradually developed a complex story line about two alternative universes which are closely connected because of Walter going to the alternate universe and bringing Peter over here. Suddenly, after a lot of trouble keeping track of the details of this back story, everything has changed with the story moving to an alternate time line. Now we  must also consider how each universe would be different in an alternative time line where Peter had died. It seems like overkill to not only have alternate universes but to throw in alternate time lines. An interview with Lance Reddick suggests they never planned to make things this complicated:

When you look back at ‘Fringe’ now versus where it was three and a half seasons ago, it’s become one of the most complicated shows out there in between the alternate universes and what’s happening with Peter right now. When you were starting out on the show, did you ever see any of this coming? Did [the producers] give you some sort of roadmap?

No. As a matter of fact, I think the show took a bit of a turn in the second season. I honestly don’t think they were necessarily going to build alternate universes from the beginning. If they were, they just didn’t tell me — which is also possible. My character changed quite a bit from the first season to the second season — honestly I feel like he became a lot less mysterious. So in the middle of the second season, you kind of knew that he was a good guy.

So in the second season we had the alternate [Colonel] Broyles, and then he died [in the] third season. And now he’s back.

Jeff Pinker and J.H. Wyman responded to fan criticism of the move to an alternative time line

TVLINE | There is one recurring knock against this season…. What would you like to say to the fans who feel they have “lost time” with the characters they know and love? That outside of Peter, in this timeline we’re kind of watching a bunch of posers?
WYMAN | Jeff and I are huge fans of television, and the biggest thing that stuns us is that our fans are actually thinking that we would pull the old, “Nothing you knew is true!” We would never do that. There is a very specific reason why we’re doing this story right now, and why we took this turn that we did. Traditionally, what goes on with our show is that fans may have an opinion about something, like, “Oh, why did you do that?!” — but then they realize, “Oh yeah, OK, I get it.” Hopefully they’ll feel the same way now, now that things are starting to come to fruition and things are starting to happen a bit more.

TVLINE | But isn’t Peter the only character going through any development that will stick?
WYMAN | If way back when, you got some scoop that Peter was going to have an affair and be involved in a love triangle, and you didn’t know about Olivia and Fauxlivia, you would never have imagined that there’d be two versions of Olivia. That’s why Fringe is great, because you can take a very traditional thing and do something extraordinary with it. It’s the same with this. Peter’s journey and finding out how he feels, what he’s doing, is really important to us. When we first went over to the other side, don’t forget, a lot of people said, “Oh, I don’t want to know about those characters. They’re not our characters.” And fortunately, people came around to like them and actually feel invested and compelled by them.
PINKNER | And at the same time, I think that the [complaint's] premise is slightly faulty, the idea that our characters are not going to change. Peter has been in their lives now for three episodes that have aired, and he’s going to be in their life certainly for some amount of time longer, and one of the things that we’re most interested in is how he is affecting them, how he is changing them. Walter’s been refusing to acknowledge him, both out of emotional reasons and also because of Walter’s own mental instability, but that’s not to say that’s not going to change. And Olivia is also dealing with this person who in another timeline is love with her, while she’s somebody who has sort of empty heart when we met her this season.

Hopefully we will get any planned payoff from this idea before the show is cancelled. Renewal sounds questionable, but talks are underway. At least they are talking about making a fourth season finale which would work as a series finale in case the show is not renewed as opposed to running a cliff hanger.

Sherlock has two major threats this year–Moriarty and CBS. The second season has concluded on the BBC but will not air in the United States until May. Like the first season, the first and third episodes were the most memorable. The third episode ended with a cliff hanger which was far better than the first season cliff hanger. Those who have not seen it might want to skip the next paragraph to avoid  major spoilers:

MAJOR SPOILERS:

The first episode of Sherlock this season had some aspects which felt very much like Doctor Who. (“When I say run, run.”) Sherlock ended the season much like Doctor Who, with the lead character having to fake his own death in The Reichenbach Fall. Unlike the first season cliff hanger, where we just assumed Sherlock would find a way out, fans will be speculating for the next year as to how Sherlock pulled this one off. There is little doubt that Molly Hooper assisted him. She would have the ability to cover up a fake body substituted for Sherlock’s. Alternatively, Sherlock might have had a clever way to survive the fall with Molly helping him sneak away and appear dead. There is little doubt that the bicycle hitting Watson was part of a plan to distract him. Even if Sherlock were to jump (or fake jumping) to his death to prevent the deaths of his friends, what reason would he have to tell Watson that he is a fake. Could the fact that Sherlock even talked to Watson on the phone, as opposed to texting, be meaningful? I am even more puzzled by Moriarty. While he wanted to see Sherlock disgraced, would it be worth committing suicide to ensure that Sherlock was not able to force him to call off his assassins? If Moriarty really was dead, perhaps it was really Moriarty’s body which was thrown off the building, but I also wonder if they would eliminate such an important character. Perhaps there is a connection to the previous episode, The Hounds of Baskerville, with Watson again being drugged to imagine something.

END SPOILERS

Regardless of how the cliff hanger plays out, it has been announced that a third season of Sherlock was ordered at the same time as the second. There might even be more of a modern day Sherlock Holmes on television. After first looking into making an American version of Sherlock, CBS has commissioned their own modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation. The Independent reports:

In a move which has caused concern at Hartswood Films, the BBC show’s producers, CBS has commissioned Elementary, described as a new Sherlock Holmes adaptation set in modern-day New York.

Sue Vertue, Sherlock Executive Producer at Hartswood Films, said: “We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It’s interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn’t resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying.” She added: “We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring.”

Conan Doyle’s creation has been subject to numerous screen incarnations, including Guy Ritchie’s all-action Hollywood version. Holmes’ sleuthing skills and character quirks also inspired House, Hugh Laurie’s medical detective.

But it is Elementary’s relocation of the character to a modern setting which may closely impinge on the BBC series, which has made laptops and text messaging an important element of its plots.

Margaret Tofalides, a copyright specialist at law firm Manches, said: “The concept of a new Sherlock Holmes is unprotectable. But if the unusual elements of the BBC series – the modern settings, characters, clothes, plots and distinctive visual style – were closely reproduced in the CBS version, that could form the basis of a potential copyright claim.”

While it is understandable that the producers of Sherlock would be concerned, my guess is that they have nothing to worry about. It is very doubtful that a weekly American network television series could compete with Sherlock in terms of quality. If the CBS show is a success, it very well might generate more buzz, encouraging people to watch the far superior BBC version which they stole the idea from.

The cast of Doctor Who continues to be interviewed frequently, including a spot on the cover of Radio Times for Karen Gillan. The Daily Record has had frequent interviews on their Scottish actress, including an interview today.

LEAVING Doctor Who, the show that made her a household name, holds no fear for Karen Gillan.

The feisty 24-year old from Inverness, who played Matt Smith’s companion Amy Pond is relishing what life has to offer.

“My greatest fear is saying, ‘what if?’ she admitted. Being in Doctor Who has been so amazing. I don’t think I will ever have a job quite so fun ever again. I feel sad because I am going to leave, but with any story, it has to come to an end.

“It was a mutual decision with me and Steven Moffat. We had this lovely dinner and decided when the best time for me to go was. So I’m excited and slightly scared.”

Karen will leave the show this year after “a few really good episodes”.

Only “a few” good episodes? Sad. The story then goes on to discuss her staring role in We’ll Take Manhattan which airs Thursday.

Matt Smith was interviewed by Australia’s ABC Television (video above).

TV Line has the story on how The Big Bang Theory got permission to use Zachary Quinto’s image in their 100th episode, quoting Bill Prady at the Producers Guild Awards:

In order to use that prop, which is a cardboard cutout of Spock [as seen] in the new movie series, you needed three approvals. You needed Paramount [Pictures], and you had to get Zach to approve it and you had to get J.J. Abrams to approve it…. The problem is we wanted to say, “Suck it. Zachary Quinto.” Normally when you send something out [for approval] you send the pages, and we’re going, “Are they going to like this?” So we called Zachary’s agent, we called Paramount, and we call J.J.’s office. I [told them], “We need to, at some point, let Sheldon begin accepting there is a new Spock in the world, and we’re going to have him start by not liking it at all. So if you’re game, and you let us use it, we will begin the process of him coming to grips with Zachary Quinto as Spock.” And we got a message back immediately from Zach and J.J. saying they loved the idea.

I think we can expect to see Zachary Quinto show up on the show some day.

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SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Starts Filming; Karen Gillan Takes Manhattan; Sophia Miles Rumored To Replace Gillan; Game of Thrones and Man Men Returning Soon; Star Trek Sub-Plot On Big Bang Theory’s100th Episode

Filming on the second Star Trek movie by J. J. Abrams began on Thursday with a scheduled release date of May 17, 2013.

Paramount Pictures announced that principal photography has commenced in Los Angeles, CA on the sequel to STAR TREK from director J.J. Abrams. The film will be released on May 17, 2013 in 3D. The 2009 re-launch of the “Star Trek” franchise by Abrams was met with critical acclaim and a worldwide gross of over $385 million at the box office.

Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions present a Bad Robot Production of a J.J. Abrams Film. Returning to their posts on the Enterprise are John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, and Anton Yelchin. They are joined by new cast members Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve and Peter Weller.

Based upon “Star Trek” created by Gene Roddenberry, the film is produced by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The script was written by Alex Kurtzman & Robert Orci & Damon Lindelof.

More information is available at TrekMovie.com.

While waiting for the movie, here’s a way to make your house sound like the Enterprise. Or perhaps you’d prefer to work on developing a working Tricorder and win a prize.

We’ll Take Manhattan, a movie about 1960′s model Jean Shrimpton, will broadcast on BBC4 in January. The trailer is above. The Guardian had a feature on both the movie and its star–Karen Gillan.:

We’ll Take Manhattan is a portrait of a photogenic love affair, but lit with flashes of class anxiety and period misogyny. While Shrimpton is portrayed as a beguiling ingénue, a muse who says little but looks great, Bailey (played by Aneurin Barnard) is the domineering, hostile “artist”, who shouts threateningly at women, uses Shrimpton and forgets his wife. I’ll say it – Bailey comes off like a bit of a dick, doesn’t he? Gillan’s eyebrows raise. “Oh!” she says. “Umm. Well. He’s not polite,” she agrees. “He’s cocky, he’s arrogant. But he adores her. He puts her on a pedestal. He likes her imperfections.”

When David Bailey himself shot Gillan and Barnard for a Vogue feature last year he sent her back to the make-up chair twice, saying: “Her eyes should be rounder and sadder.” In the film he tells her he likes her eyes with shadows underneath, after she’s been awake all night crying over him. “Like I said, as a model you are powerless, but the two of them collaborated on the work.”

Does Gillan think Shrimpton comes off as strong, in the relationship? “Models are talked about, not to. That’s still the way it is. But Jean walked out on her dad [when he objected to her affair with a married man] which shows she had bite. I think she was fierce. Quietly fierce.” Gillan grins. She says she identified most with the pre-Bailey Shrimpton, “a girl on the brink of becoming a woman. Playing her has taught me I’m stronger than I thought I was, and to appreciate the opportunities I’ve got – she was one of the ones who pursued a career, one of the ones who changed things for people like me.”

A missing radio script for a proposed Doctor Who radio series from the 1960′s has been found. More information here. Russell T. Davies is working on a new show which is being described as Doctor Who meets Harry Potter.

There are rumors flying on Twitter regarding the next companion for the Doctor after Amy Pond leaves. Sophia Myles from The Girl In The Fireplace is rumored to be returning. It would not be the first time someone has returned to play a different character on Doctor Who. From Blastr:

As all of us Whovians know, the Doctor, played by Matt Smith, lies (that’s rule number one). And so does Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. So when this one tweet teases hints at a (possible) character’s return to the long-running sci-fi series, we should take it with a pinch of salt, right?

The Daily Star is reporting that actress Sophia Myles (Moonlight, Spooks, Thunderbirds) is now being touted as the Time Lord’s next companion.

Why is that?

As we said, the whole thing started when Steven Moffat tweeted this tiny bit here: “Right EVERYBODY who follows me, go and follow @SophiaMyles – spin that fireplace. NOW.” He also added “I’ll explain later. Or not.”

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If that wasn’t enough, the whole thing became even more mysterious when Myles herself tweeted back: “Watch this (fire)place,” and “The plot thickens…”

HBO has announced that Game of Thrones will return on April 1. Mad Men will resume on AMC on March 25.

TrekMovie.com has some spoilers about the 100th episode of The Big Bang Theory which includes a Star Trek sub-plot:

In The Big Bang Theory’s 100th episode “The Recombination Hypothesis” the main focus is how Leonard and Penny may get back together. However Sheldon has his own subplot, focusing on how his order for some Star Trek merchandise has gone wrong. According to a tipster, Sheldon orders a Star Trek Spock life-size cutout, but when it arrives he is not happy. Sheldon was expecting it to be a cutout of the Leonard Nimoy Spock, but he gets Zachary Quinto’s Spock instead. Apparently Sheldon isn’t a fan, exclaiming “Zachary Quinto!? Live long, and suck it!” Sheldon’s disappointment factors into a later scene, when he tries to accept the new Spock.

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SciFi Weekend: Harry Potter; Torchwood; Spock; Hayden Panettiere; and Anna Friel

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The sixth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was a box office success but I found it to be a huge disappointment. There is always a problem turning the full novels into a movie-length story but this movie did the poorest job of the six movies out so far. I felt like I was seeing a succession of excerpts from the novel being placed on screen as opposed to a coherent story. We got a small feeling for the effects of teenage hormones now acting on the main characters and some bits and pieces to lead up to the upcoming final battle against Voldemort in the final installment, but it didn’t work as a coherent story as the novel did.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger did have a few good scenes as she felt like vomiting at the site of Ron Weasley with other girls, and Ginny Weasley looked far more grown up than I had pictured her. I thought that, while imperfect, at least the conclusion captured much of importance from the novel. I09 was also disappointed in the ending.

Children of Earth

The Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries which begins on BBC America is one of the best science fiction stories to appear on television in recent years. (Reviewed here but do not read until after viewed due to major spoilers). AOL Canada interviewed Russell T. Davies:

What was the inspiration behind ‘Children of Earth’? It’s a very scary concept.

I wanted it to be a big event. In Britain, it was moving to BBC1, the biggest channel in the country. They wanted to show it across the week, from Monday to Friday. The stakes were high, and I knew I had to make a big impact. I also wanted it to work on an international level, but again, relating it to the domestic story as well – the government, the police, the Army. Then there’s America, the United Nations…that’s the world, but you’re still talking to people in their living rooms, their kitchens. Ordinary lives being changed by huge decisions.

Big events like all the children being affected, and the invasion of Species 456…truly exciting and terrifying. Writ large, yes. But I think I had something to say about the world, and I think that’s the point.

Did you choose children as the victims deliberately?

Quite frankly, I didn’t put too much thought into it. I simply had the idea. I was just like, what if we have all the children suddenly stop and scream? Now, with hindsight, I look back and think, well that was a great idea. I don’t think it would have been as frightening if I said every man should stop and scream. Children are precious and vulnerable, and dramatically represent the innocent.

Did the BBC think they were taking a risk with the bleak ‘Children of Earth’?

They didn’t worry about the bleakness for a second. I think the bigger risk was running it from Monday to Friday. We all took a big breath with that one, and it worked! That week, we had the biggest audiences that we’ve ever had, and we were the number one drama for the entire week. We won every single night.

Will you miss ‘Doctor Who’, now that you’re moving on from it?

Enormously. They’re gearing up for their next season right now, and I’m slightly turning into their stalker. I keep emailing them, ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s it going?’ ‘What’s happening?’ I can’t wait to be a viewer, to sit back and watch their series. It’s the first Doctor Who series that I get to watch for the first time in 21 years.

‘Children of Earth’ had the feeling of a series ender. How is ‘Torchwood’ supposed to return to its alien-of-the-week format?

I’m not sure it will ever return to its alien-of-the-week format. I think we’ve proven that the show can work really well with this continuous-story format. I think we’ve set a new benchmark for Torchwood. Let’s be honest, though: if they gave me a pile of money and tell me to make a monster-of-the-week, I would go and do it. But the story never ends. It looks like an ending because it was the perfect ending to the story, but I could easily write the next five scenes of what happens next. I won’t run out of stories, not until the day I die.

Spock Prime

Starland.com interviewed Leonard Nimoy regarding playing Spock once again, his possible future as Spock Prime in future Star Trek movies, Barack Obama’s interest in Star Trek, and his role in Fringe. Here are some of the questions from the interview:

DM: Do you feel a sense of completion with the Spock character after this film or is this the beginning of a new era for you and Spock?

LN: Both! I don’t know about me and Spock. It certainly is the beginning of a new era for Spock! It is impossible to predict about me and Spock. I have no idea where they want to go next and I feel very comfortable either way. I feel very gratified that I have been able to have some kind of closure. If this is the closure, then I am very comfortable with it. I was not happy at all with the closure that was imposed on the Spock character some years ago when Spock was just simply abandoned and Kirk was killed all in one fell swoop! I felt both were great losses to Star Trek. There was no reason to kill Kirk and there was a neglect of the Spock character. It seemed intentional. It seemed as if someone was saying, “Well, we have to put a stop to that and start with a whole new era here.” Having had this movie and this experience as Spock and seeing Zachary Quinto in the role now, I feel the character has a potentially wonderful, new life and certainly the success of the movie is just so terrific! It is so wonderful to see this happen and to see Star Trek have a chance of a reinvention and a revival. It was certainly in need of a revival.

DM: Can you describe for me, from your perspective, how Spock has changed over the years, from the first pilot to this latest film?

LN: In a lot of ways I feel closer to Spock personally than I ever have.

The Spock that I played in this movie is closer to me, in my personal life condition, than he has ever been before. It was a “performance” during the series years and during the film years because I was far more human and emotional, in the broadest terms, than the Spock I was playing – now that doesn’t mean that Spock had no emotions; as we all know, Spock had his own inner life. But what I was playing was a very logical, very cool, rational Spock. In this movie, my Spock has come to terms with himself in a very comfortable way. So I see myself up there as Spock now whereas Zachary did a wonderful job bringing us a Spock character before the Spock that I played in the original Star Trek series. And, finally, at the end of this movie, we see him arriving at the Spock that I played during the original series.

DM: What do you believe is Spock Prime’s future after this film?

LN: My sense is that he has some work to do. He talked about establishing a new Vulcan colony and I think he will be very involved in that. If we never see him again that is what I would imagine he is doing. He is busy rebuilding the Vulcan story.

DM: There has been a lot of talk of President Obama being an admirer of Star Trek and being compared to the Spock character. He even said he saw the new film and really liked it in a recent Newsweek interview and he mentioned the Spock connection. Have you ever met the President and discussed Star Trek with him?

LN: I met him twice. We didn’t actually talk Star Trek but the first time I met him he gave me the Vulcan salute when he first saw me! My wife and I were at a luncheon for him a long time ago. It was just at the very earliest stages of his beginning to campaign for the nomination for the Presidency. He came through a group of people – it was a small crowd – maybe 60 or 80 people and he saw me and raised his hand in the Vulcan gesture and said, “They told me you were here.” I gave the Vulcan salute back to him and that was the beginning of our relationship. I understand he grew up watching Star Trek.

DM: I assume as well that you are very open minded to appearing as Spock again should they ask you?

LN: I have no illusions on whether or not they need me. They decided that they wanted to make this film using Spock as kind of an anchor for the story, which I think worked very, very well. They don’t have to do that again. If they decide they have a role for me to play I would be very interested in talking to them about it. But I have every reason to believe that they have established a whole new set of characters and they can sail very well without me and that’s fine. Either way is good with me. I am very gratified that this has happened.

DM: Are you going to be a regular on the TV series Fringe now?

LN: I have committed to at least two episodes for next season. That’s the beginning. Then we will see how it goes. The character I play on that show is just being given birth so we’ll just have to see how it evolves.

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Hayden Panettiere of Heroes has attracted attention for her fairly tame topless scene in I Love You, Beth Cooper. I find the pictures of her in an upcoming book entitled Room 23 (such as above) to be far more interesting.

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Seeing the pictures of Anna Friel in Vanity Fair has me wondering why it was that I stopped watching Pushing Daisies after a handful of episodes and why I have not gotten around to seeing Land of the Lost.

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SciFi Weekend: Lost, Dollhouse, Fringe, and Heroes Finales

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There have been at least four more finales of genre shows since my last finale installment of SciFi Weekend. The season finale of Lost (The Incident) aired on Wednesday and is probably the best season finale yet for the show. There were essentially two story lines. The story on the island in the present, along with the flashbacks, centered around Jacob and what appeared to be Locke’s journey to kill Jacob. We found that Jacob has been intervening in the lives of those who wound up on the island for years. We also found that at some time in the distant past Jacob was clashing with someone who was looking for a loophole which would allow him to kill Jacob. The loophole turned out to be impersonating Locke, who we ultimately found really was dead, and then trick Ben into doing the actual killing. There are still many questions, such as whether Jacob is really dead and the implications if this is the case. As it was the smoke monster which previously convinced Ben to do whatever Locke ordered, I also wonder if the smoke monster is another manifestation of or something under the control of Jacob’s adversary.

Back in 1997 the bomb did ultimately go off, presumably explaining why in the present Richard told Sun that he saw everyone die. What is the result of the explosion? Does the explosion prevent the development of the hatch or is this what caused the problem in the first place? With one season to go we can safely assume that everyone did not die in the explosion. Perhaps the explosion worked as Jack intended and their flight never crashed. It is conceivable that the season will began with the appearance that they never crashed, and that something will bring the characters back together and back to the island. Maybe the explosion just managed to send everyone back to the present. If the explosion can change history, any chance that it might also save the planet Vulcan from destruction by J.J. Abrams?

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Dollhouse ended the season with Omega, a great episode which worked both as a season finale and, if necessary and as expected, a series finale. It provided more on Caroline/Echo’s back story and completed some of the story lines from the season. It was a much better finale than on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which ended with a cliffhanger and left many of the threads from the season wide upon. Unfortunately Dollhouse also ended the season with terrible ratings, leaving most predicting it would not return.

Fortunately Dollhouse is not going to be placed in the attic. There was one additional episode filmed but not aired, which will be included on the DVD set to be released on July 28 and which will air in Great Britain. The episode takes the series in a new direction and Joss Whedon used it to demonstrate that he can continue the show’s quality on a smaller budget. Personally I have thought this show was a better fit for HBO or Showtime where he would have had a freer hand and could have better displayed Eliza Dushku’s assets. A show which involves sex is at a tremendous disadvantage creatively on network television when up against shows such as The Tudors. Even Weeds turned to topless scenes this year to increase interest in the show.

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Fringe is also returning and both Fox shows will make a little more money for the network by eliminating their policy of limited commercial breaks. I initially was uncertain about Fringe as it has developed its mythology rather slowly. The finale confirmed that the show will be moving forward next season. I imagine it does make sense, even if sometimes frustrating to viewers, to gradually lay out the mythology to avoid the problems of shows such as X-Files which ultimately ran out of places to go.

More Than One ended with Olivia meeting William Bell (played by Leonard Nimoy) and realizing she is in a parallel universe after looking out the window. At least since the original Planet of the Apes, well known scenes from New York have been used for dramatic effect. Olivia sees the Twin Towers, ending the season as Life on Mars began. One of the clues that Sam had gone back to the 1970′s was seeing the Twin Towers before they were destroyed.

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The Heroes finale, An Invisible Thread, ended an arc which was better than the one from the first half of the season but was still far from the quality of the first season. It felt  like they had decided to end the arc and just threw in a conclusion as opposed to giving the feel of a continued story. The episode ended with Nathan dying but Matt using his mind powers to make Sylar, who was morphed into Nathan’s shape, believe he was Nathan. This does give Zachary Quinto time off if needed for more movies but there are reports he will be returning to the fourth season. Fans could have predicted that something would go wrong with Matt’s mind trick, but to be sure that fans figured it out they showed this in an unnecessary scene tacked onto the episode.

Tomorrow night we have the two hour finale of 24. This possible means Jack will save Kim,  finish off the conspiracy within the government, and find a cure for the biological weapon so he can live on to torture next season.

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SciFi Friday: Televison During the Strike; Lost Secrets; The Golden Compass and Religion

With the writers strike going into six weeks the number of new shows is dwindling. AP presents an update as to which shows still have new episodes and which are on indefinite hiatus. Fortunately there are also some shows planned to start in the winter which already have some episodes completed, including Jericho and Lost. Jericho will resume on February 12 with a run of seven new episodes on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. What seemed like such a short season has now become almost a norm for this year. One new show, The Sarah Conner Chronicles, even has thirteen episodes ready to air starting with a two night premier on January 13-14.


SciFi Wire received some answers from the producers of Lost, but they won’t come as much of a surprise, or really clear up any mysteries. They reveal that “the show is about redemption. All the characters on this island are confronting the failures of their past and revisiting issues that go to the core of their emotional makeup.” Other comments regarding the meaning of the show include the producers saying, “We are interested in exploring how good and evil can be embodied in the same characters and the struggles we all have to overcome the dark parts of our souls.” The person in the coffin at the end of season three is someone we’ve seen before, but there are no further clues. Walt will return but it doesn’t sound like it will be soon. The Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle will continue. There will continue to be flashbacks and looks into the future. Jacob will be more important to the show in the future, with the producers realizing that the unveiling of Jacob in the third season did not provide any answers.

Heroes concluded with an episode which was intended to be the end of one arc for the season but which served as a good season finale. They put an end to the threat of the virus which in one alternate future wiped out most of humanity, and Hiro gave the immortal Adam the punishment he deserved in being buried alive–forever (or until they decide to bring him back in a future season). Sylar is now rejuvenated and ready to use his powers for evil, after taking a break to play Spock. At least the strike means Zachary Quinto has some time to film Star Trek without limiting his time for Heroes. The idea of going public may be at an end. HRG is back at The Company, but are they really wise to leave him on the loose? It looks like the end for both Nikki and Nathan, but who knows for sure.

Star Trek XI stars filming Leonard Nimoy’s scenes next week. The X-Files movie begins production next month and is signing stars including Amanda Peet (above), formerly of Studio 60.

The controversy created by the Harry Potter books and movies might be greatly exceeded with the opening of The Golden Compass. The books, especially the second and third, really do have an anti-religious bias and those who objected to Harry Potter will find much more to become upset about. That doesn’t mean they necessarily have to hide from the books or movie. After all, my family watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and we weren’t tempted to give up our liberal, secular ways (or devil worship if you ask Bill O’Reilly). For those fearful of ideas they don’t agree with, I hear that the movie version of The Golden Compass does play down the views of religion presented in the novels. The Guardian reviewed the movie last spring after it premiered at Cannes:

The Golden Compass, the Hollywood adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, launched in Cannes yesterday with a sneak preview of the film, which will hit UK cinemas at Christmas.

Chris Weitz, its screenwriter and director, used the event to address speculation about whether the books’ firmly anti-religious message would be retained.

Referring to the Magisterium – the all-powerful religious body that wields total political power in the world of Lyra, the heroine – he said: “In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic church gone wildly astray from its roots. If that’s what you want in the film, you’ll be disappointed. We have expanded the range of meanings that the Magisterium represents.”

He added that there would be no specific marketing to neutralise any potential religious backlash in the US. “We’re going to let the film talk for itself,” he said.

Speaking from his home in Oxford, Pullman told the Guardian: “The Magisterium as I conceived it always did stand for a range of things, including organised religion and secular authority.

“The outline of the story is faithful to what I wrote, given my knowledge of what they’ve done – and given they have compressed a story that takes 11 hours to read out into two hours or so.”

Weitz said: “Philip Pullman is against any kind of organised dogma, whether it is church hierarchy or, say, a Soviet hierarchy. We often deal quite obliquely with it in the film … but we have done service to Pullman’s books. Those people who read them for their philosophical content will not be disappointed.”

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SciFi Friday: Kristen Bell Joins Heroes This Week; Kirk Cast: Star Wars Comes to Television

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Kristen Bell’s first appearance on Heroes will be on Monday’s episode, but this will be followed by two episodes without her before she returns. Kristen Bell and Tim Kring live blogged at The TV Addict and here’s a bit of the information they provided:

Kristen Bell: My character Elle has a lot of information about Peter’s past.

Kristen Bell: Elle has ties to HRG and to Claire and there’s going to be a very interesting dynamic between her and Claire. There’s going to be a deeper relationship than what fans may be expecting. Elle also has ties to Suresh as well. And she’s a little messed up in the head. She doesn’t have many boundaries which I think is what makes her so interesting. Elle very much enjoys her powers and the emotional power it gives her.

Tim Kring: Elle is tied very closely to The Company. And she acts as a cautionary tale to the rest of the HEROES.

SciFI Wire also reports that Bell’s character will be looking for Peter Petrelli and meets up with him in Ireland. She has also expressed a desire to work with Zachary Quinto (pictured with her above), who she has been friends with for several years. Bell has signed to appear in at least thirteen episodes.

Quinto will also be playing Spock and we now have the identities of the other lead characters in the upcoming Star Trek movie. Chris Pine will play James T. Kirk and Karl Urban will play Dr. Leonard McCoy. There continues to be lots of rumors going around that William Shatner will have a role in the movie along with more denials. Those saying he will appear have no word as to how they will get around the problem that they foolishly killed off his character in Generations.

If we might have have Star Trek without William Shatner, why not Star Wars without Luke Skywalker? George Lucas is working on a television version of Star Wars but without the characters of the movies:

Filmmaker George Lucas said Tuesday that he has “just begun work” on a live-action television series rooted in the “Star Wars” universe, which is huge news not just for fans of the science-fiction epic but also for networks looking for a piece of the Lucas magic that has grossed $4.3 billion in theaters worldwide.

There is a caveat, though: The proposed series doesn’t have anyone named Luke or Anakin in it, a story path that Lucas concedes is “taking chances” as far as connecting with an audience expecting the familiar mythology.

“The Skywalkers aren’t in it, and it’s about minor characters,” Lucas said in an interview. “It has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader or any of those people. It’s completely different. But it’s a good idea, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to do.”

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