SciFi Weekend: Raggedy Man Goodnight–The Time of the Doctor

Time of the Doctor1

The Time of the Doctor tried to do many things at once: be a Christmas episode, be an action story, tie up questions from the Matt Smith era, be a regeneration story, and be an homage to the Matt Smith era. It succeeded or failed to various degrees in each, but in the end managed to do enough to be a memorable chapter in Doctor Who, especially as a proper way to end the story of the eleventh Doctor.

After recent Christmas episodes which were more clearly based upon Christmas stories or themes, The Time of the Doctor resorted to naming the town where the Doctor spent centuries Christmas, along with brief scenes of Christmas dinner at Clara’s home. There were far too many other things to accomplish to get bogged down with a true Christmas story, but this sure gave a new meaning to the War on Christmas.

Sometimes if felt like he has been making new interpretations up as he went along, but Steven Moffat did try to tie up loose ends from not only the Matt Smith years but, in dealing with the Time Lords and the regeneration limit, the entire series. He handled the regeneration limit well, explaining the situation for those who have not already read about it on the blogs and without dwelling on it too long for those who have already heard the discussion. Matt Smith quickly explained to Clara that he was on his last regeneration once you counted the John Hurt Doctor:

CLARA: “But you don’t die. You change – you pop right back with a new face.”
THE DOCTOR: “Not forever. I can change 12 times. 13 versions of me. 13 silly Doctors.”
CLARA: “But you’re number eleven, so -”
THE DOCTOR: “Are we forgetting Captain Grumpy? I didn’t call myself the Doctor during the Time War, but it was still a regeneration.”

Explaining yet another previously uncounted regeneration, the Doctor pointed out that “Number Ten once regenerated and kept the same face – I had vanity issues at the time.”. Of course we knew that somehow he would not die at Tranzalor any more than he died at Lake Silencio, but instead would regenerate despite the previously established and easily broken regeneration limit.

Before nearly dying of old age, the Doctor spent over 300 years on Tranzalor fighting the Daleks and others at a standoff. Several other enemies were also thrown in, often quickly. The Weeping Angels were present only to briefly grab Clara’s ankle (without sending her back in time). The Cybermen had a cameo, with far more memorable scenes from Handles, a severed Cyberman head who chronologically  became the companion to spend the most time with the Doctor and was reminiscent of K-9. These cameos would have been pointless, and even distracting, in a normal story, but were present as part of the homage to the many events of the Matt Smith years.

After frequently throwing out the question, Doctor Who? into many stories, Moffat made the answer a key point of this story. Unfortunately the explanation makes little sense once you think about it. The Time Lords were hidden in a pocket universe and would not return until the Doctor said his real name. It doesn’t make much sense as to why this would be so important and why the Time Lords would even think that the Doctor would want them to return. Many events during the Matt Smith years have been revealed as being based upon attempts to prevent the Doctor from bringing back the Time Lords. Why would they think that the Doctor would do so after he was the one who made them disappear? Gallifrey was hidden behind the cracks in time which have been present in multiple episodes. Why didn’t the issue of the Doctor’s name or the return of the Time Lords come up around prior cracks.

Time of the Doctor2

I fortunately downloaded the BBC broadcast as I hear that at least one key explanation was cut from the BBC America version for commercials. The Silents were revealed to have been genetically engineered priests. Once someone gave their confession, they would forget about the confession. A cool idea until you question why. The key line which I heard was cut from the US showing was that Madame Kovarian led a renegade offshoot of the Silents from the Papal Mainframe which was dedicated to killing the Doctor as the way to prevent him from speaking his name and allowing the Time Lords to return.

Moffat managed to tie in many previous events into this narrative, including the explosion of the TARDIS. River Song was created as a perfect psychopath to kill the Doctor (but he wound up marrying her instead). The Doctor’s greatest fear behind a door in The God Complex was revealed to be a crack in time. The episode included other references to earlier in this regeneration, such as eating fish fingers and custard before regenerating, as the Doctor did after regenerating from Ten to Eleven. There were also references to earlier regenerations, such as using “reverse the polarity to the neutron flow.” Eleven has now said this more often than the Third Doctor actually did. The Doctor also referred to The Five Doctors with use of the“Seal of the High Council of Gallifrey – nicked it off the Master in the Death Zone.”

Moffat created a memorable new character in Tasha Lem. She seems to have had a romantic history with the Doctor and can even fly the TARDIS. She explained to Clara,”Flying the TARDIS was always easy. It was flying the Doctor I never quite mastered.” Such dialog could easily come from River Song, the only person other than the Doctor who we previously saw fly the TARDIS. The Doctor told Tasha Lem, “You’ve been fighting the psychopath inside you all your life,” reminding us of how River Song was called a psychopath in the same episode. Perhaps the episode was written with thought of including River Song. There has been some speculation that Tasha Lem is yet another manifestation of River Song, possibly taking a new bodily form after leaving the library.

Moffat also has a habit of bringing up themes and then dropping them (but you never know if he will one day return to them). The Doctor faking his death at Lake Silencio had no long term meaning as subsequently everyone still seems aware that he is alive. Clara’s wiping of the Dalek memory of the Doctor in Asylum of the Daleks has been forgotten. Moffat played with the meme that the Doctor lies by putting him in a truth field in this episode. This was also forgotten. The Doctor lied to Clara when he said he told her he would not send her away and lied at the end about having a plan.

Time of the Doctor Wig

Moffat even took advantage of Matt Smith having cut his hair for a movie role. The Doctor hid a spare key to the TARDIS under a wig. The scene only worked because of the knowledge that Matt Smith was actually wearing a wig during the filming of the episode. It also reminded me of when Sam Malone revealed he was wearing a wig on Cheers after word got out that Ted Danson actually wore one.

The episode might have been improved by making it longer than an hour and providing a more sensible conclusion. The Time Lords sat behind the crack and did nothing for years. Then Clara said, “His name is the Doctor. All the name he needs, all you need to know about him. And if you love him… help him.” This was enough to get the Time Lords to act. While questionable, it is at least consistent with the Doctor Who theme of often having the companions perform important actions to save the Doctor.In a way it also resolves the issue of the Doctor’s real name by pointing out that it doesn’t really matter.

The Time Lords gave the Doctor a new regeneration cycle. Previous episodes have established that this is very rare, but not without precedent. It remains to be seen whether twelve more regenerations will be enough to keep the Doctor alive as long as the show continues or if another way will need to be found to grant additional regenerations in the distant future. The regeneration energy was enough to enable the Doctor to easily shoot the Dalek ship out of the sky. If the Time Lord’s possess this much power, it is hard to believe that they were ever seriously threatened by the Daleks during the Time War.

Time has been rewritten and the Doctor did not die on Tranzalor. This would also mean that there is no tomb where Clara was fragmented into multiple copies to save the Doctor from The Great Intelligence. Yet another of those timey wimey paradoxes.

The regeneration was drawn out, enabling Matt Smith to appear yet again as a young man, eating custard. The episode showed growth for the Doctor. Ten didn’t want to go and Eleven hated endings. Finally Eleven was ready and accepted his fate as “times change, and so must I.” As he saw Amelia Pond, the first person he saw as the Eleventh, he said, “I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

Time of the Doctor Amy Pond

Karen Gillan will always be the companion most closely thought of  with Matt Smith. Like David Tennant visiting Billie Piper for one last time before he regenerated, a vision of Amy Pond got to say to the Doctor, “Raggedy man. Goodnight.” Ironically both Karen Gillan and Matt Smith were wearing wigs in this picture, having cut their hair for movie roles.

Some fans have been disappointed because the regeneration scene did not show a prolonged transformation of the face from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi. I suspect this might have been for budgetary reasons. I thought it was far more symbolic to have Matt Smith remove his bow tie just before changing. Bow ties and fez hats belong to the Eleventh. Others might wear them in his honor, but it will always be remembered that it was Matt Smith who said, “Bow ties are cool.”

As with previous regenerations, Twelve was observant of his bodily changes.”I’ve got new kidneys! I don’t like the color!” There are bigger concerns when the TARDIS alarms go off and he asks Clara, “Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?” It sounds like we might have another crash scene coming up, unless either he is either messing around with Clara or soon regains his memory.

Unfortunately we have to wait until next fall to find out.

Time of the Doctor Peter Capaldi

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, SHIELD, Arrow, Big Bang Theory & Other Sitcoms, Orphan Black, Star Trek, X-Files, Horror Shows, and SNL On Gravity & The Shutdown

Nine lost episodes of Doctor Who have been found in Nigeria.

The episodes come from two multi-part serials for which only one episode each was known to exist: “The Enemy Of The World” and “The Web Of Fear.” As a result of this discovery, “The Enemy Of The World” serial can now be watched whole in the UK for the first time since it was originally broadcast, and for the first time ever in the United States. Episode 3 of “The Web Of Fear” serial is still missing even after this discovery, but a reconstruction from stills and program audio is included to complete the story. All 11 episodes from the two serials exist on film and were digitally restored prior for this release.

Trailer for The Enemy of the World above. Mark Gatiss has said that Web of Fear has inspired the first episode of the third season of Sherlock.

Dr.-Hall

The third episode of Agents of SHIELD was better than last week but still left a lot to be desired. Regardless of the show’s (lack of) quality, it has been picked up for a full 22 episode run. That is no real surprise considering how it helps promote the Marvel movies, and I’m sure Disney will also find other ways to profit from the show. I’m still hoping that everyone other than Agent Coulson gets furloughed during the government shutdown, especially Fitz and Simmons. Skye could conceivably be a good character if she was able to be more convincing as someone both working with SHIELD and a hacker group.

Arrow Oliver Summer Glau Felicity

Despite being limited to minor DC characters and being on CW, so far Arrow has been a much better show than Agents of SHIELD. As a plus, beyond the connection to DC, there is also a strong Doctor Who connection with recurring characters including John Barrowman and Alex Kingston. The producers are Doctor Who fans who are hoping to get Matt Smith to guest star.

The second season premier was a little uneven. There were great scenes, including a shoot out which seemed to be from Gotham City and the return to the island, but the show was hindered with some scenes to bring things up to date after a six month jump. This included the prison visits to Moira and the obligatory scene between Oliver and Laurel to place their romance on hold once again. It was good to see Summer Glau, but her character seemed to be even more of a robot than the robot she played on Sarah Connor Chronicles.

I have another nitpick with last week’s episode. When Oliver met with Summer Glau’s character, he was accompanied by John Diggle and Felicity. These two are his sidekicks when he does the vigilante thing, but they do not have comparable roles at Queen Consolidated. While I understand they want to place their main cast into as many scenes as possible, the business meeting should have been held with extras in suits who presumably have been running the country for the past six months while Oliver was gone and Moira was in prison. Despite the flaws of the first episode, I remain optimistic for an entertaining second season. Of course the major change is that Oliver now wants to be a hero instead of vigilante, going under a new name.

the-big-bang-theory-raiders-of-the-lost-ark

The new NBC comedies have been doing terribly in the ratings, making me hope that Community will return sooner than planned. Parks and Recreation is worth watching, even including an occasional genre reference. The rest of the shows have serious problems.  Unfortunately Parks and Recreation has to go up against The Big Bang Theory. They had an excellent episode with genre discussion last week. Amy destroyed Raiders of the Lost Arc for Sheldon by making an observation I had not thought of before. The story would have played out pretty much the same way if Indiana Jones wasn’t involved, with the Nazis taking the Arc, opening it, and suffering the same fate. Sheldon tried to retaliate by showing flaws in things which Amy liked. He pointed out things on Little House on the Prairie which didn’t belong in the era and said, “If I knew this show was about time travel, I would have watched it much sooner.” He also knocked Garfield: “Your precious Garfield has no reason to hate Mondays. He’s a cat. He has no job.” Meanwhile Leonard wanted to watch the full Blu-ray extended version of “The Hobbit” with long commentary instead of watching sports with Penny’s friends who he has little in common with : “It’s like they never even heard of Quidditch.” Plus there was an appearance by Leonard’s mother, played by Christine Baranski.

In a related item, here is a reference to all of Sheldon Cooper’s t-shirts.

I was pessimistic from the start that a US network would pull off an adaption of Gavin and Stacey, fearing it would be a flop as with the attempt at a US version of Steven Moffat’s fantastic sit-com Coupling. I was going to give Us & Them, the US adaptation, a chance due to staring Alexis Bledel. Fox has already given up on the show before it has aired, not planning to produce further episodes. I’ve seen conflicting reports saying that either six or seven have been filmed. Regardless of the number, there will be no more.

Joanna Page, the original Stacey, is appearing in The Day of the Doctor. She discussed the show in an interview posted here.

With a lack of successful comedies, NBC is looking at everything from a new sitcom staring Meg Ryan to a sitcom reboot of Remington Steele.

There have been a lot of stories over the past week about Robert Orci speaking with CBS about the possibility of a new Star Trek television series. I would love to see it happen. Star Trek belongs on television far more than in movies (not that the two are mutually exclusive). If anything, the talks are at a very early stage. Orci has now posted: “I THINK MY COMMENT HAS BEEN BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION. Someone asked about Star Trek TV, and I said we had inquired about the rights. Doesn’t mean a show is imminent nor do we assume CBS would want us to do that at this time. I refer you to the Roddenberry podcast for context.”

Gillian Anderson and  David Duchovny Revisit the Origins of ‘The X-Files’

There have been a number of cast announcements for the second season of Orphan Black and for Fargo, a ten-episode series to run on FX. The most interesting pick is the addition of Bob Odenkirk (Saul from Braking Bad) to the cast of Fargo.

There’s a Twitter feud between the writers of Elementary and Sleepy Hollow. Both shows have something in common as far as I’m concerned.  Both have episodes still sitting on my DVR as shows which I haven’t found good enough to keep up with. I still might give Sleepy Hollow another chance as time allows, primarily because of knowing that John Noble will be appearing. Fake Sherlock is a poor substitute for the “real” thing.

With Walking Dead returning, Oh No They Don’t took a look at How Horror Took Over Hollywood.

Saturday Night Live showed the impact of the government shutdown on Gravity.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Star Trek Into Darkness; Veronica Mars; Firefly; Batman; Pepper Potts; Gwen Stacy Meets Mary Jane Watson

Doctor Who returns March 30. Trailer above.

Here is an interview with Matt Smith on the Jonathan Ross Show. For those who are just interested in the Doctor Who Clip, here is a clip from The Bells of St. John, which appears to take place shortly after Clara first enters the TARDIS  (which has a new look):

Here is an interview (audio only) with Jenna-Louise Coleman and producer Marcus Wilson:

Executive Producer Caroline Skinner is leaving Doctor Who. Faith Penhale, head of Drama at BBC Wales, will be producing the 50th Anniversary episode. Steven Moffat has gone through three executive producers but rather than dwelling on rumors of conflict, let’s look back at the days when Julie Gardner spent four years working with Russel T. Davies. Above is The Ballad of Russell and Julie. This is a must-see video for Doctor Who fans who have not seen it yet:

They are starting filming on the third season of Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch has confirmed that he is willing to return for a fourth season:

“We’ve already agreed to two more series”. Those were the seven words Benedict Cumberbatch uttered today that set a sizeable section of the internet afire. Speaking at this afternoon’s South Bank Show Awards, the Sherlock and Star Trek: Into Darkness actor revealed, “All I know at the moment is that I’m doing these three and another three”.

Cumberbatch recently won a British Press Guild award as Best Actor. Interview with him above.

Alex Kingston is also interested in returning to Doctor Who as River Song:

I’m so attached to that character. I never expected her to grow and develop in the way she has. You never know whether she’s going to be hard-ass or good. As long as Steven Moffat has storylines that include her, I will always say yes.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Cumberbatch-Quinto

Damon Lindelof on Star Trek Into Darkness and the secrecy surrounding the movie:

“If the first movie was about meeting and introductions, this movie is about becoming a family,” Lindelof said. “The title of the movie is not just about the mission that the Enterprise is going on but what happens when you get to know each other a little better and the hurdles you must jump over in order to truly become family.”

“If anything, we’ve become more terrified,” he said. “We kind of got it right the first time, [we thought], ‘Let’s really not screw it up this time.’ You really have to honor the 40-plus years of canon and legacy that this amazing franchise had before we put pen to paper.”

Lindelof said they settled on the villain for the movie and decided very early on to say little about him — apart from the fact that Cumberbatch’s antagonist is named John Harrison.

“The audience needs to have the same experience that the crew is having,” Lindelof explained. “You’re Kirk, you’re Spock, you’re McCoy, so if they don’t know who the bad guy is going to be in the movie, then you shouldn’t know. It’s not just keeping the secret for secrecy’s sake. It’s not giving the audience information that the characters don’t have.”

Game of Thrones returns March 31. Trailer above.

As I posted earlier in the week, I am helping to finance a Veronica Mars movie. Along with over 50,000 other people I have pledged money for a Kickstarter campaign which made its goal the first day. Don’t let that stop you from pledging–the  more money that is pledged the better the movie might be.

The success of this Kickstarter campaign immediately led to speculation that this might be done to finance other genre movies, and Firefly was one of the first to come to mind. Buzzfeed spoke with Joss Whedon:

Buzzfeed talked to Whedon, a long-time Veronica Mars fan, and he admitted that he was thrilled to see the movie project funded, and funded in the way it’s been. “It feels like a real game-changer”, he admitted.

And then the obvious question. Is this something he’d consider to get more Firefly off the ground?

“I’ve said repeatedly that I would love to make another movie with these guys, and that remains the case. It also remains the case that I’m booked up by Marvel for the next three years, and that I haven’t even been able to get Dr Horrible 2 off the ground because of that”.

He added that “I don’t even entertain the notion of entertaining the notion of doing this, and won’t. Couple years from now, when Nathan’s no longer [working on] Castle and I’m no longer the Tom Hagen of the Marvel Universe and making a giant movie, we might look and see where the market is then. But right now, it’s a complete non-Kickstarter for me”.

Whedon suggests that Kickstarter “doesn’t just open the floodgates”, although we’d imagine that a flood of projects will be testing the water very shortly. He clearly still sounds keen to make more Firefly, though, and we’ll keep you posted as we hear more…

Batman in the Movies.

pepper-iron-man-3-trailer

Pepper Potts is no damsel in distress in Iron Man 3. From Marvel Studies President Kevin Feige:

In this movie [Iron Man 3] we play with the convention of the damsel in distress. We are bored by the damsel in distress. But, sometimes we need our hero to be desperate enough in fighting for something other than just his own life. So, there is fun to be had with ‘Is Pepper in danger or is Pepper the savior?’ over the course of this movie.

In the comic books she does get a taste for the suit and becomes her own hero named Rescue, who doesn’t necessarily battle other people, but is on missions to help people and to save people. Will we do that down the line with Gwyneth Paltrow? Who knows. But her being in the suit is something we have been playing with since ‘Iron Man 2,’ where we did some designs and it didn’t end up fitting in that movie.

Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) meets Shailene Woodley (Mary Jane Watson). More Amazing Spider-Man 2 set photos available here.

Gwen Meets Mary Jane Spider-Man

SciFi Weekend: Person of Interest; Fringe; Dexter; Once Upon A Time; Merlin; Captain America; Black Widow; Torchwood; Star Trek Into The Darkness Clip; and More

Returning genre shows such as Person of Interest, Fringe, and Dexter were far stronger than the new series. On Person of Interest I was almost disappointed to see Finch escape from Root, but it looks like Amy Acker’s character will be returning after this extensive development of her back story. I do hope that future episodes involve the machine and Amy Acker’s plotting along with the person of interest of the week. The dog will remain on the show according to this interview with show runners and cast from prior to Friday’s episode. There were also these comments on Root:

TVLINE | Have we just seen Root (played by Amy Acker) at her most ruthless, poisoning that lady in the restaurant? Or is the worst yet to come? GREG PLAGEMAN | She just scratched the surface there. NOLAN | Root is stone-cold but it’s considered. We don’t think of her as a psychopath but someone who is in her own way sympathetic. And the case she is trying to make is, in many ways – though not the killing people part! – something Finch can relate to. You have all these people who want to manipulate [the Machine], and Root wants to set it free. What that means, and how her plan ultimately plays out, is something that we’re going to see through the course of the season. EMERSON | Once Mr. Finch sees a few of the things she’s capable of, he needs to bring her down.

This week on Fringe we got a look at how the Observers will probably be defeated. Although the solution was wiped from Walter’s mind last week, we found that Walter left information on a series of recordings–recorded on old Betamax tapes as opposed to digitally, or even VHS. Astrid will be important in figuring out Walter’s clues according to this interview with Jasika Nicole. While getting this information in Walter’s old lab, the episode also centered around torture and the question of whether the resistance can retain its humanity while fighting the Observers. I am hopeful that remaining episodes will deal with such issues as opposed to being simple quests for tapes with clues. It does look like it is safe to predict that Etta’s former partner Simon will not be returning. Interview with Anna Torv here.

On Dexter, Deb has finally found out about her brother’s habit. Dexter tried to convince Deb that the killing she witnessed was a one-time event. It was only a matter of time until she figured out everything, so I am happy they got it over with in the first episode of the season. Jennifer Carpenteron what Deb learned:

Deb has uncovered everything! What’s her first reaction in the second episode?
Jennifer Carpenter:
I think audiences, especially our Comic-Con audience, wanted to me to say, “Oh, she’d rage or explode or fire a round from her gun,” but all [her] senses are firing and [her] brain is kicking up. I have this written history with this character for seven years, and there’s landmines everywhere. It’s rich. It’s dangerous for everyone involved. There’s no such thing as a filler scene this year. Everybody is involved in a weird way.

The Ice Truck Killer hand was on the table. What’s going on inside her head as she makes these connections that Dexter was present when she was on the Ice Truck Killer’s table?
Carpenter:
It’s too hard to process it all at once. All of those things were in the room at the time, but that realization that those things are connected has its own turn. There was a moment when I was scanning the table while filming and thinking, “That sucks.” At some point, your body just can’t play Tetris anymore and find room for everything. There’s some paralysis that takes over, like, “I’ll get to that in a minute.”

How does Deb finding out that Dexter is a serial killer change her as a person?
Carpenter:
Instantly, the fantasy of being in love with this man falls away, or at least is snuffed out. It’s a slap in the face that wakes her up in a weird way. Suddenly, she can see all the manipulation and redirection that he’s handed her. It’s changed everything. It’s made her job so hard. In a weird way, I think I was afraid it was going to paint us into a corner when she one day found out, but it’s endless space to work in.

How does it affect her job since he’s putting her in a difficult position?
Carpenter:
What I appreciated from the writers is that its unfolding how I imagined it would in real life. It’s not some swift hammer that falls with her saying, “This is how it’s going to be.” It’s, “I need to collect information about how many [people he’s killed] and who taught [him].” All of that stuff will play into how she chooses to proceed.

More on what this means for Dexter from show runner Scott Buck:

Do you think Dexter is partially happy that his secret is finally out?
Buck:
Happy is not necessarily the right word, but he’s relieved. It’s a huge burden off his shoulder. He’s lived with this secret his entire life. In one sense, it’s a little scary not to have this secret anymore. He’s always sought comfort in his own private little world, and now to be exposed this way, it’s kind of frightening for someone who’s not used to being frightened. [But] yes, it’s a huge stress relief to finally be able to tell someone who you are.

Isn’t he now in ever-present danger that she might turn him in?
Buck:
It’s a real risk. It’s one thing [for Deb] to learn that [he] used to do this’ it’s another thing to learn that [he’s] still doing this and doesn’t intend on stopping.

Dexter is a great liar, but Deb’s not good with that. How will that start to weigh on her conscience?
Buck:
It gets very aggravating for her because she never knew. To learn that your brother has been lying to you your whole life, suddenly you’re wondering what’s true and what’s a lie. Not just all the things he said in the past, but everything that comes out of his mouth now makes her wonder. It becomes very difficult for Deb to deal with.

Once Upon A Time added yet a third location to its storyline as Mary Margaret and Emma wound up in fairytale land after most inhabitants were brought to the modern world. It looks like we will also learn that the modern day story is generally confined to Storybrooke with the townspeople being unable to leave. From the description of tonight’s episode:

While Regina continues to find a way to regain her magical powers, David continues his quest to uncover the whereabouts of Mary Margaret and Emma; and the seven dwarves discover what happens when any of the townspeople try to step past the city limits of Storybrooke. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, as her wedding day to King Leopold approaches, Regina is confronted by a man of magic who promises to help her become independent and break free from her mother Cora’s clutches.

I finally caught the first two episodes of Fake Sherlock (i.e. Elementary) last night. The show didn’t show anything near the brilliance of Moffat’s version. The show was more a standard U.S. police procedural with an eccentric detective. Elementary’s Sherlock Holmes reminded me more of a toned-down House than Sherlock Holmes, and they even have Lisa Edelstein guest-staring in the seventh episode. Benedict Cumberbatch has a little (far too little) to say about both his show and Elementary in this interview.

Merlin Season 5 began in the U.K. yesterday. I don’t want to spoil episodes for U.S. viewers who are not downloading the show, but above is an extended trailer. A review of the first episode can be found here.

For American fans of British shows who do wait, Upstairs Downstairs Season 2 (of the remake) is finally airing in the U.S. Alex Kingston plays an archeologist in this period piece. She fits in quite well, but her presence did make me look around for a police box. The show has not been renewed for a third season.

Iron Man 3 has resumed filming. Reportedly Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) will not be appearing in this movie, but will be in the sequel to Captain America.There is also a rather intriguing list of candidates for the lead female role:

Five actresses are reportedly vying for the lead female role in the Captain America sequel, which is widely assumed to be that of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, who would be some form of relative of Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter (which relative, in particular tends to vary). The five candidates are Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay, I Am Number Four‘s Teresa Palmer, Fright Night‘s Imogen Poots, and Community‘s Alison Brie.

John Barrowman has his opinion of the perfect story for the next season of Torchwood (which may or may not ever be filmed)–his own novel:

Torchwood and Doctor Who star John Barrowman has teamed up with his sister Carole to pen his first Torchwood novel, Exodus Code, and he’s so pleased with it, he’d like it to become the fifth series.

“I’d love to see this book become the series or to become something in the future that could be done on screen with Torchwood,” John Barrowman tells us, “and that is why it was important for [Exec Producers] Russell [T Davies] and Julie [Gardener] and the BBC to have their input, because if the show did continue then this must make sense.”

The plot follows the events of Miracle Day, the fourth series of Torchwood, and Captain Jack [Barrowman] and Gwen [Eve Myles] are racing to save humanity. Women are being driven insane by heightened and scrambled senses, leaving governments and scientists baffled.

This global scale is the direction Barrowman would like to see Torchwood take if it were to return. “I think every time Torchwood comes back it has to be something different,” he says. “We’ve always been challenged; we’ve been moved from network to network each series so we always have to build from scratch so I think if Torchwood comes back it needs to be on a bigger, global scale.”

The future of the show is still uncertain, however. “We haven’t been told no or yes, we’re in limbo.” But Barrowman is ready if it ever does: “Listen, I’ve always said if they ask me to put the coat on I will do happily because I love Jack,” he says. “I have it here ready!”

J.J. Abrams had a brief clip from Star Trek Into The Darkness on Conan. Yes, this does appear dark.

SciFi Weekend: Sherlock Returns In the US; Doctor Who News; Merlin to be Darker; The Avengers; Awake; Fringe; Gratuitous Sex on Game of Thrones; Jericho; Lost; Friday Night Lights;

With Doctor Who now filming and the second season of Sherlock premiering in the United States tonight, there has been a lot of news about both shows. For those who have not seen it, Steven Moffat’s version of Sherlock is fantastic, regardless of whether you are a fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. It is definitely worth watching for the next three weeks on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.  I think that the second season was even better than the first. While all three episodes were excellent, like the first season the first and third episodes are the most significant.

Steven Moffat was interviewed in the United States by Fresh Air prior to the start of the second season of Sherlock on PBS. The interview was primarily directed towards American audiences who are not familiar with Sherlock and Doctor Who. Several of the questions involved casting, and one item of interest was that Matt Smith had interviews for the role of Watson before being chosen to play the Doctor. Moffat also had this to say about casting Matt Smith:

Everything else about a show, other than casting — however great or admirable or excellent it is — can only sort of really be admired. People don’t really have a relationship with great writing or great production or great art direction or great direction. They just sort of admire it. What people fall in love with, oddly enough, is other people. The difference between a beautifully made failure and a beautifully made hit is who you’ve got playing the leads. It really, seriously is. Is a nation going to fall in love with those people and want to see them week after week? And making that decision is tough. But it’s easier if you’ve got a great casting director. … In the case of Matt Smith as The Doctor, I’d be very, very adamant that we have an older Doctor — that he’d be in his 40s. I wasn’t going to have any young Doctors on my watch. And on the very, very first day — the very, very first day — he was the third one through the door. His audition was so perfect, any fool would have cast him. It was dead easy. And I remember asking, ‘What age is he?’ And he was 26 and instantly the perfect Doctor because he does do that thing of combining the old man and a young man. He looks like a young man assembled by old men from memory.”

On the importance of Watson:

“If you look at any good version of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson is every bit as important as Sherlock Holmes, and some would argue more so, because he’s our conduit to Sherlock Holmes. He’s the person to whom, in a way, the story happens. We are more emotionally resonant with Dr. Watson than with Sherlock Holmes because Sherlock Holmes is a hard man to empathize with.”

In contrast, the show is largely from Sherlock’s perspective:

“We always wanted it to be stylish. We didn’t want it to be like other television. We wanted it to have a film sense. Everybody says that about their TV show. Everyone says that. But then my wife got a hold of [director] Paul McGuigan, and he’s the one who brought the tremendous beauty to it. One of the things he said was, ‘You want to think Sherlock Holmes is behind the camera, too.’ You want to see the world as Sherlock Holmes sees it. And that informs his work on an awful lot of the show, to give you the Sherlock’s eye view of the world all the time.”

Moffat had this to say about his childhood:

“I’m a geek. I’m a writer. I spent all of my time in my childhood obsessing about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. I was alone, I was an outsider — what do you expect? I was that bullied kid at the back of the class weeping for loneliness. I don’t think, generally speaking, people become writers because they were the really good, really cool, attractive kid in class. I’ll be honest. This is our revenge for people who were much better looking and more popular than us. I was a bit like that, I suppose.”

Even though Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are becoming big stars, Moffat is confident that they will return for future series of Sherlock. The three episode a year formula gives them plenty of time for other projects and, just to be safe, Moffat has their families locked up in his basement. Cumberbatch, now filming on Star Trek, does not share Moffat’s objection to Elementary:

“As we already know with the Downey Jr movie franchise that there’s room enough for two [Sherlock Holmes projects], so why not three?” the actor said at a Q&A session in New York to promote Sherlock series two airing on PBS.

Cumberbatch added that he considers Trainspotting star Miller – with whom he starred in the play Frankenstein at the National Theatre – a “friend”.

“[Elementary will] be different and I don’t think it’ll take away the love for ours, and there’s no reason to be churlish or bitter about them or what they’re trying to do,” he said.

It appears that River (aka Melody Pond) will pose as a gangster named Melody Malone. More pictures (and spoilers) from the upcoming season can be seen here.Doctor Who TV also gathered items of interest from an interview with Steven Moffat in Doctor Who Magazine:

  • Rory and Amy are no longer regular travelers with the Doctor: “If he thinks he needs them, he just pops in on them,” but, “Each time they’ll get a little older.”
  • Moffat on killing off companions: “Even if I don’t think I’ll do it…maybe I will do it!”
  • Moffat ponders, “If we did a UNIT story, would Martha be there?”
  • The Special Weapons Dalek will definitely appear in the opener
  • Moffat reiterates that the New Paradigm Daleks are an “officer class”
  • Can the question “Doctor Who?” be answered? “Wait and see”
  • We will find out exactly what Trenzalore is all about
  • “The Fall of the Eleventh” will also be resolved (perhaps not in Series 7 though)
  • Moffat is very keen that the order of the episodes can be swapped around this time
  • There will still be a story arc, but it will be “the opposite” of Series 6
  • Even though he said no more two-parters, they are still possible if the story requires them
  • Jenna-Louise’s companion will be different to the others and is “going to be a shock”
  • Filming will continue throughout the rest of 2012 and further into 2013 and beyond

Bond director Sam Mendes compared the James Bond franchise to Doctor Who in this interview:

The first time I saw the movie, I was like, “You’ve got to be joking! You can’t do that to the poor man!” But it was too…they were playing almost embarrassment, almost apologized for having a new Bond and I thought that was wrong, and I thought what they got right was Casino Royale. There was a kind of “We don’t need Q, we don’t need Moneypenny. We’ve got this character. We’re going right back to basics. He’s real, he’s in a real situation. Let’s start all over again.”  I thought that was very refreshing.

That’s why I mentioned the word in the press conference, “regeneration” rather than “evolving,” because I feel it is like, you know, we have Doctor Who…there’s a geek answer…we have Doctor Who and I was brought up on the idea of Doctor Who, who at the end of his final episode, he dissolves and a new actor pops up and he regenerates and it’s a whole other character: sometimes it’s an old man, sometimes it’s a young man, but he just changes.  I’ve always loved that idea.

Julian Murphy says that Season 5 of Merlin will be darker. Time will have passed showing the established court of Arthur, and there will be an older Mordred.

Combine Marvel characters and Joss Whedon and we had a formula where The Avengers really did live up to all the hype. An interview with Joss Whedon is above. The movie sets up conditions for further movies centered around Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.  Mark Ruffalo did a much better job of playing Bruce Banner than Edward Norton did , and now there are reports that further Hulk movies might be made, possibly along with a movie centered around Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. As has been the case with the previous Marvel movies, it is important to stay in the theater during the credits for an extra scene. In this case there are two extra scenes. One during the credits is probably significant in terms of a future threat for Thor and/or The Avengers. The second, at the very end of the credits, is not important but was still fun to watch.

As many watch movies long after the initial release date I tend to avoid saying much about the plot of movies in posts here. Those wanting to avoid even a minor spoiler might want to skip the end of this paragraph. In movies of this type it is necessary to accept a lot which is unrealistic, but I was bothered a little with the inconsistency in the portrayal of the Hulk. The first time Banner became the Hulk he was more destructive and showed less understanding of his situation as compared to his final appearance in the second Hulk movie. Then, when he became the Hulk for a second time, he acted with complete understanding of working as part of the Avengers team.

As usual with Awake, the personal events involving Britten in this week’s episode, Slack Water, were more interesting than the criminal cases. Once again the possible clues as to whether the two different worlds for Britten are both real are also contradictory. In some episodes there is real information obtained in one world which is helpful to solve a crime in the other. Other episodes were more like this week, were the house which is the scene of the crime in one reality was the name of a video game played by a murder victim in another, leading to Britten finding out information which helped solve the crime. Having the house be real in one reality but a video game in the other suggests that only one, or perhaps neither, reality experienced by Britten is real and his mind (or some other source) is supplying this information.

The more important story line came out of the revelation last week that Rex’s girl friend Emma was pregnant, with Emma having a miscarriage in the world where Rex survived the auto crash and continuing to carry Rex’s child in the world where Rex was killed. It was rather obvious that Emma did not agree with the decision of her parents to have a closed adoption, even if only Hannah recognized this during most of the episode. A theme of the show has been for Michael Britten to replace his loses in both realities. Where Hannah died, he keeps the older partner and has a female psychiatrist. In the reality where Rex was killed, Michael has a young male psychiatrist and is given a new, younger male partner.  (I did find it strange that the older former partner was not seen at Michael’s going away party in the other reality where Michael was given new partner.) Now things have worked out in the reality where Rex died that Michael not only has the prospect of adopting Rex’s child, but events have also worked out that they have a new teen-aged child in the home.

One implication of this is that Britten is no longer planning to move to Oregon and the person responsible for the earlier attempt on his life is now likely to act again. The back story was further developed as we learned that this involves a heroin shipment, and we learned that the police Captain  had been a narcotics cop in the past, providing some explanation as to how she might have become involved.

The previews for next week’s episode suggest that we might learn more about Britten’s situation. For at least part of the episode he ceases to go into the Rex universe. Could this mean that over there he is dead (unlikely), unconsciousness, or perhaps because he has to solve the mystery of his attempted murder in the other universe in order to protect himself in the other before returning. A voice over in the preview has Britten saying,  “There was no accident. They were trying to kill me.” Unfortunately Britten is off screen, so we cannot tell if he is wearing the typical white shirt of the Hannah universe or blue shirt of the Rex universe and we cannot be certain if the murder attempt, so far only mentioned in the Rex universe, is now becoming a factor in the Hannah universe.

While there has been suspicion that Leonard Nimoy was going to return to play William Bell on Fringe, they still managed to keep Nimoy’s actual appearance on this week’s episode of Fringe a secret. As an example of the misdirection used, in an interview shortly before the last episode aired, Jeff  Pinkner had this to say about the possibility of Nimoy returning: “We basically erected a sign outside of Leonard’s house which said, “Please come back to Fringe,” and we are hoping that by season five he says yes.” In the interview Pinkner also said we will again see the world of 2036 but avoided answering a question as to whether we will see the alternative universe again.

I09 looked at the gratuitous sex and violence on Game of Thrones.

There has been talk this week that Netflix might revive Jericho. It makes sense for Netflix to revive shows which have a strong following (such as with Arrested Development) even if off the air for several years considering they are shows which significant numbers of Netflix subscribers are currently watching. As more companies start to compete with Netflix for streaming older shows, providing new episodes will give subscribers reason to stick with Netflix.

Speaking of streaming providers, there was a major update to the Android versions of HBO Go and Max Go this week so that they finally work with Ice Cream Sandwich.

If Netflix might bring back Jericho, there has been speculation as to other old shows which might return. Damon Lindelof leaves open the idea of more Lost, but is not interested in personally being involved:

Lindelof has no interest in revisiting “Lost” anytime soon.

“It’s been two years (since the series wrapped) and we told the story we wanted to tell,” Lindelof said. But he admits ABC might look for ways to bring back “Lost” in some form. “I do feel like the world has not seen the end of ‘Lost,’ but I’m not going to have any involvement,” he said.

Lindelof isn’t bitter about the idea, however.

“It would be hypocritical for me to say I’m going to do ‘Star Trek’ but I don’t want anyone to touch ‘Lost,’ ” he said.

It is also looking like the plans to bring back Friday Night Lights as a movie are really going forward.

SciFi Weekend: Casting Jenna-Louise Coleman; Amy and Rory; The Easter Dalek; Enterprise in Las Vegas; Hugo Nominees; Captain America; Titanic; Downton Abbey; Upstairs Downstairs

People who interpret the Mayan calendar as indicating the end of the world in December 2012 are mistaken. It is now clear that  the Mayans were just noting the transition from Karen Gillan to Jenna-Louise Coleman on Doctor Who. We have some more information about the process of casting Jenna. Material has been posted on line from part of the audition of Jenna-Louise Coleman for her role as the new companion. The material, taken from Doctor Who Magazine, appears to be Jenna acting out a scene with Matt Smith:

The Doctor and Jasmine are investigating a haunted house.

DOCTOR: So you saw it coming in here? What did it look like?

JASMINE: Grey. Sort of dusty. Like it was made of spider webs.

D: And it came through the wall.

J: Yeah, that wall there.

D: But you don’t think it was a ghost. Why not?

J: Because there’s no such thing as ghosts.

D: You know, a lot of people who saw what you saw wouldn’t still think that.

J: Obviously. Otherwise there wouldn’t be idiots who believe in ghosts.

D: What were you doing here?

J: I love this place. It’s… beautiful.

D: It’s falling apart.

J: It’s old. I love old things, they make me feel sad.

D: What’s good about sad?

J: It’s happy for deep people. You’d know.

D: I’m not sad.

J: Oh, you are though. Under all that talking and leaping about. Takes one to know one.

D: So you come here for… recreational sadness?

J: Yeah. In a way. Okay, why are you looking at me like that?

D: You remind me of an old friend of mine. Someone I lost a long time ago.

J: Down boy. I’m not her.

D: Oh, I know you’re not – I don’t believe in ghosts either.

J: Oh my God, what’s that?

D: Okay, just stay calm.

J: But that’s the thing I saw before.

D: Yep, and it’s coming towards us. I expect you noticed that. Say it with me – I don’t believe in ghosts!

J: I don’t believe in ghosts!

D: Louder! I don’t believe in ghosts!

J: I don’t believe in ghosts!! Will this work?

D: No idea, never met a ghost before.

Whatever this is, Moffat has said that Jasmine won’t be the character’s actual name on the show:

“Two things before you read it. Her name is NOT Jasmine. I don’t like the name Jasmine (sorry all Jasmines, I didn’t mean you) so I knew I’d never use it for real. And also, you might notice there’s a line snuck in from Blink. One of those self-consciously clever, writer-showing-off lines that anyone stuck working with me better get used to.

“So here’s a spoiler from a future that is never going to happen. This is the scene we saw Matt and Jenna perform in a dull little room in the basement of the BBC, which changed the future of Doctor Who. Now remember, this is nonsense, none of this is going to happen, no clues or hints. Think of it as series of hurdles we placed in front of an actress to check her jumping skills.”

After months of rumors (spread by Steven Moffat and Sophia Myles via Twitter), Sophia Myles now says she is not returning to Doctor Who, at least in the near future:

“Steven [Moffat] and I did talk about Doctor Who and I honestly feel – and I think he feels the same – that The Girl in the Fireplace was so special, I really doubt we could do something better together on that show. It was just so perfect and I would rather leave it at that, ” she explains in the latest Doctor Who Magazine.

“If I was to come back to Doctor Who, I don’t think it should be as [Madame de Pompadour]… but it would just ruin it to come back as anything else.”

However, Myles doesn’t completely rule out another role.

“Maybe when I’m old and don’t look anything like her. I’d like to come back in 20 or 30 years’ time as a baddy, and cause some trouble! But as for anything imminently? No. I think that would be inappropriate.

This might be a major spoiler (or perhaps major misdirection) from the first episode of the next season of Doctor Who: Reportedly a prop was seen of divorce papers for Amy and Rory. There are also reports of them getting along well in scenes from episode 3, so if true early-season conflict between the two might get resolved.

Via the TARDIS Newsroom, here’s the Easter Dalek.

The big thing we learned about the alternate universe on Fringe is that they have different superheroes, and no Batman. It was obvious that Agent Lee was interested in Olivia in our universe. Now that she is reunited with Peter, is he heading into a relationship with Fauxlivia?

On Awake, Britten wound up working with Dr. Lee on a police case (although part of their contact was real, and part induced by a drug–or  was Britten  having hallucinations and losing his mind?). It might have been more interesting if they had Britten run into Dr. Lee in the time line where he sees the other psychiatrist and Dr. Lee doesn’t know that Britten knows him. Of course we’ve seen that sometimes things are quite closely the same in both time lines, and sometimes individual’s lives are quite different, so Dr. Lee may or may not be around as a police psychiatrist in the other time line. From the previews, it looks like next week gets back to the conspiracy around the auto accident which precipitated events.

Las Vegas considered building a full sized replica of the Enterprise in 1992. The story came out last week and can be seen here.

The Hugo Award nominees have been announced. Nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) include three episodes of Doctor Who and one episode of Community.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) (512 ballots)
“The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
The Drink Tank‘s Hugo Acceptance Speech,” Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
“The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who), written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
“A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who), written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
“Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community), written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

Television shows typically are recognized by the Hugo Awards based upon individual episode. Game of Thrones misses out under that criteria. The entire first season was actually one long story, but it is hard to pick an individual episode. Instead the first season was nominated under Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) (592 ballots)
Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely, directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

It is difficult to compare an entire season of a television show to a single movie. Perhaps they should divide into three categories, one for individual episodes of television shows and other short form presentations, one for movies, and a new category for genre television shows.

A sequel to Captain America has been announced for release in April 20124:

Marvel Studios isn’t waiting to see how “The Avengers” does in theaters later this year. Following in the footsteps of “Thor,” the studio Friday announced it’s moving forward with a sequel to its 2011 hit “Captain America,” prepping it for a 2014 release.

Keeping the film canon with “The Avengers,” Chris Evans will take on the title role in the present, and not during World War II like the previous film. The events at the end of the first “Captain America” film, along with some storyline in the upcoming “Avengers” movie, bring super soldier Steve Rogers to the present.

The first Captain America film is of increased interest being the film debut of Jenna-Louise Coleman. A picture of her in the movie was previously posted here.

Although not airing in the United States until next weekend, I did get a hold the first two episodes of Titanic. Some of the information posted about the mini-series on line was incorrect. Some reports claimed that Jenna-Louise Coleman doesn’t appear until the third episode but actually she was present in the first two. Perhaps she has a larger role in the third. Some early reviews also described the mini-series as each episode involving  different characters, leading up to the ship sinking at the end of each hour. It is correct that each episode leads up to the Titanic sinking, but there is tremendous overlap between the characters. The second episode introduced new characters and didn’t include all the characters from the first episode, but it did provide more information about some of the major characters from the first episode.

The mini-series, written by Julian Fellowes, does have much of the same style as Fellowes’ show Downton Abbey. One difference is that the some among the wealthy are far less sympathetic characters–and in some cases their servants are even nastier.

As for Downton Abbey, there are spoilers for the third season:

What can “Downton Abbey” fans expect when the PBS series starts its third season in January?

“Matthew and Mary do get married,” ”Masterpiece” executive producer Rebecca Eaton said Wednesday at a Winter Park party. She previewed the British drama, which is in production, for supporters of WUCF TV, Central Florida’s new PBS station.

In the new “Downton” season, everyone is waiting for the arrival of the mother of Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), a character played by Oscar-winner Shirley MacLaine. They’re waiting for MacLaine’s character because the British family, especially Violet (Oscar-winner Maggie Smith), needs money again, Eaton said.

“There are some wonderful scenes between Maggie and Shirley MacLaine — Shirley MacLaine being as ditsy as ever,” Eaton said. “And Maggie barely restraining her sneer in having to deal with this American. Maggie Smith is a handful, it’s true. She’s very difficult. She knows her worth, and she’s tricky on the set, but she delivers when the time comes.”

Eaton supplied more teases: “Somebody will be born, and somebody will die, somebody pretty key in the cast, unfortunately not going to make it. It’s the 1920s now.”

The obvious speculation is that the birth will be a child for Matthew and Mary, especially as it is confirmed that they will marry. There are other possibilities. Perhaps Bates makes it out of prison and starts a family with Anna. It is also possible that Lady Sybel might be having a child. Those interested in seeing Jessica Brown Findley in other roles might click here to see her in Albatros. (Beware, the scene is not safe for work, and the Crawley family would really be shocked to see her flashing in this scene).

The cast of Downton Abbey includes Hugh Bonneville, who has appeared on Doctor Who. Alex Kingston has a role on the second season of the remake of Upstairs, Downstairs (coincidentally also playing an archeologist). I was aware that Jean Marsh, who has been on the original and remake of Upstairs, Downstairs, has appeared in Doctor Who and was curious as to whether many other actors have appeared on both shows. I was surprised by the length of the list, which can be seen here.

The second season of Upstairs, Downstairs won’t air in the United States until 2013 and is well worth watching. The season takes place as conflict escalates between Germany and Great Britain just before World War II, giving it a much more modern feel compared to the original, or compared to Downton Abbey.

Steven Moffat Announces New Companion And Information On Upcoming Season Of Doctor Who

Steven Moffat revealed a lot of information about the upcoming season of Doctor Who, including the announcement that Jenna-Louise Coleman will become the next companion. I provided some information about Coleman earlier today, just after the announcement. It was also announced that there will be five episodes with Amy and Rory in the fall of 2012, including one with Daleks. Amy and Rory will leave the series in a final encounter with the Weeping Angels in episode 5. From the report that not everyone gets out alive, along with Karen Gillan’s previous statements that she would like her exit to be final, I suspect this means the death of Amy, and possibly Rory. It is also conceivable that Amy might decide to leave the TARDIS following yet another, and this time permanent, death for Rory.

Jenna-Louise Coleman will first appear in the Christmas 2012 episode and begins filming in May. Eight episodes will subsequently air in the spring of 2013 to complete the season, with additional episodes later in the 50th anniversary season.

In describing the choice of Jenna-Louise Coleman to become the next companion, Steven Moffat replied to a question on what he could tell by saying, “It’s not the usual kind of story, it’s a very, very different way for the Doctor to meet his new friend, so absolutely nothing. Not even the name.” It is rumored that her character will not be from earth.

In the press release announcing the choice (full text below), Moffat also had this to say:

“It always seems impossible when you start casting these parts, but when we saw Matt and Jenna together, we knew we had our girl. She’s funny and clever and exactly mad enough to step on board the TARDIS.

“It’s not often the Doctor meets someone who can talk even faster than he does, but it’s about to happen. Jenna is going to lead him his merriest dance yet. And that’s all you’re getting for now. Who she’s playing, how the Doctor meets her, and even where he finds her, are all part of one of the biggest mysteries the Time Lord ever encounters. Even by the Doctor’s standards, this isn’t your usual boy meets girl.”

Matt Smith is signed with the show through 2013, with no decision made as to when he will leave the show. Moffat also said that the departure of Amy Pond does not necessarily mean the end for River Song.

Above is a the video of a BBC interview with Jenna-Louise Coleman following announcement that she will be joining cast of Doctor Who.

Following is a transcript of a press conference with Steven Moffat and Jenna-Louise Coleman from earlier today:

Steven Moffat (showrunner), what can you tell us about the character?
Moffat: “Absolutely nothing – you’re going to have to wait and see! It’s not the usual kind of story, it’s a very, very different way for the Doctor to meet his new friend, so [I can tell you] absolutely nothing. Not even the name.”

Jenna, how do you feel about being cast?
Coleman: “Beyond excited. Very excited – I want to get started already.”

When do you start shooting?
Coleman: “I believe it’s May time, [for] the Christmas special.”
Moffat: “That’ll be her first episode.”

Are you a fan of the show and do you have a favorite companion from the past?
Coleman: “I’m a huge fan of the show. It’s actually literally my grandma’s favorite show, so she is the most excited person in the world! I think my favorite companion is probably… it’s between Billie Piper and Karen Gillan, I think.

“I’ve got a lot of memories from the Billie Piper era, and obviously I’ve been watching quite a lot of the show recently as well.”

And aside from Matt, who’s your favorite Doctor?
“It’s probably David Tennant, because it’s the David Tennant and Billie Piper era that I remember the best. But it has to be Matt, of course!”

(more…)

Scifi Weekend: Awake; Doctor Who; Game of Thrones Previews; Mad Men; Terra Nova Cancelled; Sherlock; Emily Blunt On Superhero Movies

The second episode of Awake, The Little Guy, gave more hints as to the direction the show might be moving in. Like last week’s episode, much of the show involved slightly different events in each reality. In one, Hannah (the wife who survived in one reality and died in the other) investigated mail to their dead son and found that Rex had been secretly building a motorcycle with a friend. In the other world, Rex and his friend were still working on the motorcycle without Michael realizing it until Hannah told him about it in the other reality. Hannah of one reality also helped Michael with the information needed to wash Rex’s clothes in the other.

This episode provided clear examples of Michael finding out something in one reality which was pertinent to the other. This could be the case if everything was imaginary in Mikael’s head or if we are dealing with two different realities which split apart at the time of the accident.

There were some key differences between the two worlds. One is in the reaction of the psychiatrist in each to how Michael used information from one to help in the other, including in solving crimes. Dr. Evans was impressed by the manner in which (to her perspective) Michael was using his subconscious to solve problems. In contrast, Dr. Lee saw this as negative, believing the subconscious thoughts were unreliable.

Information from one reality did help Michael solve the murder of fertility specialist Benjamin Mackenzie by a teen (a little guy) who found that Mackenzie impregnated his mother with his own sperm. (Isn’t this always the case when a fertility specialist is seen on a crime show?) . In the other reality (where Dr. Lee questioned the use of the supposedly subconscious information) Mackenzie’s murder was not solved. In this world, Mackenzie had been murdered a month before (by a little guy) but Mackenzie was a homeless drug addict instead of a doctor.

While there are similarities between the two worlds with Mackenzie being murdered in each, it is a major finding that Mackenzie had a different life in each universe which would have begun before the auto accident. This could occur if everything is taking place in Michael Britten’s mind. This could not arise out of a situation where things split into two parallel worlds at the time of the accident as if this was the explanation Mackenzie would be the same in each reality at the time of the accident. Another possibility is that the accident is causing Michael to move back and forth between two parallel universes which were already in existence but where not everything was the same. (Perhaps one even has the twin towers still intact as on Fringe.)

In another major development, Laura Innes, who plays Michael Britton’s superior in the police department, met with another man who was revealed to have been responsible for the car crash which was intended to result in the death of Britton’s entire family. The actual accident was set up by a little man. Beyond revealing that the accident was not really a accident, this answers another question about the show–whether it is possible to have scenes showing events that Britton is unaware of. (This was not the only example, but is by far the most significant to reveal that there is a world beyond Britton’s thoughts). This meeting appears to take place in the Red World where his wife is still alive and the murder of Mackenzie was not solved, but could it possibly be taking place in a different “real world” if the two worlds we see with Michael Britton are both taking place in his mind? The reasons for trying to kill Britton provides another mystery which, while not as interesting as the underlying question of how there are two different realities, is an ongoing mystery which a reasonable story could be written about.

The third episode of the upcoming season of Doctor Who is being filmed in Spain. It is reportedly a western episode in  which a “half-human half-robot Terminator-style beast which patrols a Victorian-era western town”. Ben Browder of Farscape will be appearing and there are also unconfirmed rumors that Sophia Myles (also rumored to replace Karen Gillan) appears. (Myles previously appeared in The Girl In The Fireplace, an episode written by Steven Moffat.)

The episode was written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse and directed by Saul Metzstein of  Upstairs Downstairs. There is also another connection between Doctor Who and Upstairs Downstairs. Alex Kingston, in addition to being in the second season of Upstairs Downstairs, plays an archeologist. Seeing “River Song” in pre-World War II England is certainly not implausible.

Two new trailers have been released for The Game of Thrones (videos above).

Mad Men

A long time has passed since we last saw Mad Men. The cast helps us catch up in the above video.

Terra Nova has been officially cancelled by Fox but there are reports that Netflix might be interested in continuing the show. Until Netflix develops a following for original programming, I think it does make sense to try to take advantage of the existing audience of shows which had reasonable ratings but didn’t survive on network television, as it is doing with Arrested Development. While I (and many others) have become accustomed to watching original programing on HBO, Showtime, AMC, and now even Starz, I would be far less likely to click on an original show on Netflix unless I heard a lot of favorable buzz. I think that I, and many other potential viewers, would be far more likely to watch a show we were already in the habit of watching before picked up by Netflix.

If Netflix really is interested, they better act quickly while the cast is still available. Christine Adams has already received a role in a pilot for ABC entitled Americana.

I hope that the announcement of the cancellation of Terra Nova means that this increases the chances that there will be a spot on next year’s schedule for Fringe and Alcatraz. There are reports that Fox might give Fringe a shortened season next year to wrap up the series as a short season would extend the series to at least one-hundred episodes, which is preferred for syndication.

The above video envisions the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock to the theme of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Emily Blunt, who appeared last year in The Adjustment Bureau, passed up on some other genre roles in superhero movies. She was asked about this in an interview in New York Magazine:

At one point, you were up for parts in Iron Man 2 and Captain America, but you passed. Would you ever want to do a superhero movie?
Usually the female parts in a superhero film feel thankless: She’s the pill girlfriend while the guys are whizzing around saving the world. I didn’t do the other ones because the part wasn’t very good or the timing wasn’t right, but I’m open to any kind of genre if the part is great and fun and different and a challenge in some way. I would love to do a comic-book movie or a science-fiction film that would scare the bejesus out of me. Maybe I need to be James Bond! I just did Looper, because it’s so original and breathtakingly cool. The time-travel aspect is just a backdrop to visit this heightened world, where you’re atoning for something and attempting to be more than you’ve been.

Carlton Cuse, show runner from Lost, is joining The Bate’s Motel, a prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho being prepared by A&E.

Stephen Hawking will be appearing on the April 5 episode of The Big Bang Theory. Will Sheldon try to tell Hawking about the physics errors he has made? Community returns this week!!!

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

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

John Noble discussed his role this season:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is an extended interview with Matt Smith and Mark Gatiss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were big changes on Merlin this week.

 

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Season Highlights, Mentions on US Television, Naughty Deleted Scenes, Christmas Special Filming; Dexter; Homeland; Downton Abbey; Merlin

The above video shows the highlights of the last season of Doctor Who in 89 seconds.Here’s a more musical version:

There was increased promotion of Doctor Who in the United States over the past season, which probably accounts three references to the show on American television shows so far this season. The best remains this parody from Community:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRPeqaZiQ-M&feature=player_embedded

Free Agents, an already cancelled U.S. sitcom based upon a British show, had a brief mention. The video clip is no longer available on line but the entire episode is available on Hulu. Criminal Minds had a recent mention which can be viewed here, along with this older clip:

There have also been some other older mentions of Doctor Who on American shows. For example:

The apparently nude picture of River Song was seen in some trailers for the season but never aired. Steven Moffat, who showed he is into naughty material on television from his work on Coupling, felt it was too naughty for Doctor Who. More from Blastr.com:

When Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat was asked on Twitter about the bit where we see a naked River Song (Alex Kingston) winking at an unknown someone in the trailer, he answered: “Deleted, yes. Too naughty, don’t know what I was thinking.”

The scene was apparently cut from the season six premiere episode ”The Impossible Astronaut.”

There’s a few more details coming from The Eleventh Doctor Volume 3:

The readthrough script for [”The Impossible Astronaut”] had minimal changes before issue as shooting script. The main alteration was the ultimately deleted scene at Stormcage where the governor remonstrated with River Song over her previous 15 escapes under his predecessor, “Oh, it was never fifteen—unless you’re counting holidays and hair appointments…” said River as she opened a cupboard on the cell wall and pulled out an impossibly long clothes rail of dresses commenting, “Don’t mind my wardrobe. Teensy bit bigger on the inside!”But the ”naughty” River Song scene is not the only one that ended up either on the cutting floor, or not being filmed at all. Apparently:

There were more changes later made to [”Day of the Moon”]; the opening sequence with Rory and Canton was set in Chicago’s waterfront docklands and the final scene with the little girl was set in New York. The Doctor and his friends had been gathering information over two rather than three months between installments. Still to be added were the Doctor’s comparisons of the Silents to the Roman Empire, the Doctor describing the sensation of the Silents being around, and much of a sub-plot about the Doctor’s beard.Then there’s also a scene  which shows a group of mean-looking Nazis searching for the Doctor (Matt Smith), also cut from ”The Impossible Astronaut.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFnaV6cBIiY&feature=player_embedded#!

In the video above, Karen Gillan discusses her involvement in the Doctor Who Adventure Game, The Gunpowder Plot.

The Christmas Special is now filming, with some information released by the BBC:

Production has started on the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas Special in which the Doctor (Matt Smith) finds himself in war-torn England embarking on a magical and mysterious adventure with a young widow and her two children.

A stellar guest cast including Claire Skinner (Outnumbered), Bill Bailey (Black Books), Arabella Weir (The Fast Show) and Alexander Armstrong (Armstrong & Miller), join Matt Smith in the emotional festive special, packed full of Christmas thrills and chills.

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, commented: “The Doctor at Christmas – nothing is more fun to write. Maybe because it’s so his kind of day – everything’s bright and shiny, everybody’s having a laugh, and nobody minds if you wear a really stupid hat. Of all the Doctors, Matt Smith’s is the one that was born for this time of year – so it’s the best news possible that he’s heading back down the chimney.”

The special, set during World War II, sees Madge Arwell and her two children, Lily and Cyril, evacuated to a draughty old house in Dorset, where the caretaker is a mysterious young man in bow tie, and a big blue parcel is waiting for them under the tree. They are about to enter a magical new world and learn that a Time Lord never forgets his debts…

Claire Skinner said: “I am thrilled to be in Doctor Who playing Madge who is a bit of super-mum. It’s a magical part.”

There are three recommended shows airing tonight. Last Sunday the first episode of Dexter looked promising, with Dexter asking some tough questions about religion. Homeland was also off to a promising start last week. Besides staring Claire Danes, the cast includes Morena Baccarin who planned Anna on the remake of V.Unlike Alex Kingston’s naughty scene on Doctor Who, Baccarin’s nude scenes can be aired on Showtime.  Baccarin plays the wife of Nicholas Brody, who had been held captive by al Qaeda for eight years. Claire Danes plays CIA agent Carrie Mathison who has reason to believe that Brody has been turned and is working with al Qaeda on a terrorist attack on American soil. Mathison also has some psychiatric issues, making it unclear as to whether to trust her suspicions of Brody.

Besides these two shows on Showtime, Downton Abbey airs in the U.K. on Sundays and has been off to a great season with a World War I backdrop. I won’t say much about this show for the benefit of those waiting for it to air in the United States. Merlin has started out this season on Saturdays in the U.K. with a strong two-part episode. Again I won’t say much, but Morgana is now more powerful, and Arthur has a more important role in ruling Camelot.