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.

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.”

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.”

SciFi Friday: All Star Trek Edition, With Musical Number

There are a number of rumors this week regarding casting and possible plot for the upcoming Star Trek movie. Zachary Quinto has also given a number of interviews which may contain some clues as to the direction Abrams intends to take with Star Trek. It wasn’t at all surprising to learn that this could be the first of a new series of movies. In response to one question, Quinto said “It is a multiple picture deal, yeah. If there end up being sequels, that remains to be seen. There’s more than one movie attached to this one.” Quinto also had some comments on how he will be portraying Spock:

The interesting thing is that you meet this character before you ever knew him on the television series and the other movies, so sort of what you know about him and then also an exploration of how he got to that point. All of the characters, not just Spock.

Other than for Quinto being cast as Spock, much of the casting has not yet been set. The Trek Movie Report says that Zoë Saldana has been offered the role of Uhura. Saldana appreared in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl but also played a Trekkie in The Terminal

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There’s also news of another former Star Trek cast member appearing on television next season. John Billingsley, who played Phlox on Star Trek: Voyager and appeared in The Nine last season, will have a role on 24 next season.

Ain’t It Cool News has rumors on the plot of the upcoming Star Trek movie. Keep in mind that this rumor may or may not be valid, and even if accurate might not apply to the final movie. This idea does allow Abrams to work in both the young and older Spock, as well as get around potential continuity problems. Reportedly Romulans wind up in the past and decide to change the time line by killing a young James T. Kirk. The older Spock goes back in time to prevent this plot, however might wind up creating a different time line. Subsequent movies would take place in this new time line in which many things would be the same but there could be differences.

Unless Abrams has some remarkable ideas for this new time line (assuming there is even any truth to this) I’m not sure this is a good idea. There are plenty of stories which could still be told without violating the continuity of the original stories. Of course fans might have to give Abrams a little leeway and not worry about every trivial point.

Can the science of Star Trek come true? Slice of SciFi has had some recent stories suggesting possible situations in which this can occur. One technology might lead to a device comparable to the holodeck:

A technology dubbed “autostereoscopic light field display” makes the claim it is able to present interactive 3D graphics to multiple simultaneous viewers 360 degrees around the display.

The USC developers of the device — Andrew Jones, Ian McDowall, Hideshi Yamada, Mark Bolas and Paul Debevec — describe it this way in their abstract:

The display consists of a high-speed video projector, a spinning mirror covered by a holographic diffuser, and FPGA circuitry to decode specially rendered DVI video signals. The display uses a standard programmable graphics card to render over 5,000 images per second of interactive 3D graphics, projecting 360-degree views with 1.25 degree separation up to 20 updates per second.

We describe the system’s projection geometry and its calibration process, and we present a multiple-center-of-projection rendering technique for creating perspective-correct images from arbitrary viewpoints around the display. Our projection technique allows correct vertical perspective and parallax to be rendered for any height and distance when these parameters are known, and we demonstrate this effect with interactive raster graphics using a tracking system to measure the viewer’s height and distance. We further apply our projection technique to the display of photographed light fields with accurate horizontal and vertical parallax.

Another story reports on possible energy weapons which could be developed to use against insurgents in Iraq.

As I’m spending the weekend at the Grand Hotel Jazz Festival, I thought I should end this week’s edition of SciFi Friday with a musical number. Members of various casts of Star Trek do the Time Warp:

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SciFi Friday: More Heroes Cast Additons, Doctor Who, and Jerry Was a Man

The cast of Heroes has been expanded for next season to include the population of the planet Earth. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but they sure are adding a lot of cast members. At one time Boston Legal appeared like a home for former Star Trek cast members in having both William Shatner and Rene Auberjonois (Odo) in the regular cast along with Armin Shimerman (Quark) appearing in an arc. Next season only Shatner will remain as a regular, but Heroes is moving well beyond Boston Legal’s record. Heroes started with George Takei (Sulu) last season and then actually made their own Star Trek star when Zachary Quinto (Sylar) was chosen to play Spock in next year’s Star Trek movie. Next season Heroes is also adding Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed from Enterprise).

I’ve already posted on the addition of Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars). Heroes will also be adding a second former star of Alias, David Anders (Sark), to join Steve Grunberg. Other additions include Stephen Tobolowsky of Deadwood and Jessica Collins of The Nine.

With all these additions to the cast of Heroes, The Boston Globe asks if the show is overreaching.

USA Today has interviewed Zachary Quinto regarding his upcoming role as Spock. Quinto appears to verify rumors that the movie will take place before the events of the original television show:

“I really identify with Spock’s struggle,” he says. “We’re going back to a time before anything (Nimoy did in the original series) was established. These characters are in a completely different stage of their lives.”

Heroes isn’t the only show to make news with new cast members this week. I’ve recently posted on the controversial addition of Janeane Garofalo to the cast of 24.

Doctor Who might be having an old cast member joining for an episode next season. While it is unconfirmed, Sylvester McCoy, who played the seventh Doctor, apparently let it slip that Peter Davision, the fifth Doctor, will be appearing in a multi-doctor episode. As time travel is an integral part of the show, it has long been a staple to have periodic episodes in which several different versions of The Doctor meet each other.

This week SciFi Channel shows Human Nature, the first part of one of the best episodes of Doctor Who ever produced. I’ll avoid any spoilers for those who have not seen both parts of this story this yet. (I have previously discussed both parts of this two-part episode here for those who have already seen them).

The third of four episodes of Masters of Science Fiction last week featured an adaptation of a short story by Robert A. Heinlein, Jerry Was A Man. The original story dealt an attempt by a genetically modified chimpanzee to achieve human rights. The story was altered to deal with a robotic being which also contains a small amount of human DNA. Instead of a serious story on human rights, the episode was played largely as a comedy decreasing its impact. Star Trek: The Next Generation handled this topic much better when Data went on trial to argue that he was not property which could be disassembled. With some believing we might have the potential to develop intelligent self-aware robots in the foreseeable future, the issue of robot rights has received serious attention.

With so much to watch, and much of it available on high definition television, those regular DVD’s just are not looking as great as they did when the format was new. I’ve held off on going to a high definition disc format to see how the war between HD DVD and Blue-ray would pan out. There were developments this week when Panasonic and Dream Works went with HD DVD and Fox went with Blue-ray. Unfortunately this only confuses the matter even more.