SciFi Friday: Doctor Who Conclusion (Spoilers for US Viewers)

It is a slow week in the United States with the 4th of July holiday. The SciFi Channel is taking a week off from Doctor Who due to the holiday, but this has been a very interesting week for those watching in the U.K. and those of us downloading the episodes after they are shown there. This post contains very major spoilers and those watching on the SciFi Channel might want to hold off on reading. The spoilers are far more significant than the news which leaked ahead of time that the Daleks play a major part and that Davros has survived. If you read further, you have been warned.

The Stolen Earth is part of an effort of Russell T. Davies to really go out with a bang as he concludes his tenure as show runner. The earth is literally stolen and then attacked by a new Dalek race cloned directly from Davros. The story brings together all of the supporting characters who have been companions to The Doctor since the series returned: Torchwood’s Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), Dr. Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) unite to battle the Daleks.

The Doctor is reunited with Rose in the final moments but gets mortally injured, setting up the tremdous cliff hanger for the finale, Journey’s End. The episode will be an extended sixty-five minute show. Having the earth in danger is not a big enough cliff hanger for Davies to end on as viewers would have no doubt that The Doctor would manage to save the earth. Instead Davies came up with the biggest cliff hanger possible as The Doctor began to regenerate.

There are many possible ways for this cliff hanger to play out. It could turn out to be a failed regeneration and The Doctor might remain in the form of David Tennant. The other extreme is that David Tennant really is leaving and they have done an incredible job of keeping this a secret in Great Britain, where a change in the actor playing The Doctor really is big news.

I suspect that something in between these two extremes might occur. There very well might be a new Doctor formed from the regeneration, but the question would be how long he (or she) would be around. The episode might end with a cosmic reset, which would be easy to do with the current story possibly occuring outside of normal time.

Another consideration is that there might be two Doctors for some time. We might both have a new Doctor for the regeneration and there has been speculation that the David Tennant form will be cloned back from the severed hand in the Tardis. This would be a way around the limit in regenerations which are possible, allowing the series to continue for many years to come. If there are two doctors, this might even last through next year as instead of a regular series there will be special episodes, with Tennant not necessarily staring in all. Perhaps whatever happens in the season finale will not be totally resolved for another year.

The fate of David Tennant’s Doctor is not the only question. Donna is not expected to return as a companion next year. She might simply return home with her family, or other possibilities exist. There has been speculation that the reason Donna has been able to control The Tardis is that she is actually a Time Lord, possibly The Rani. Maybe Catherine Tate will regenerate herself by the end of the season but her character will remain in the series.

SciFi Friday (Sunday Edition): Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who Premiers; Torchwood Finale

I held off until Sunday once again in order to catch the season premier of Battlestar Galactica, the season (series?) finale of Torchwood, and the season premier of Doctor Who.

Battlestar Galactica started right where the previous season left off with Starbuck returning. Starbuck thinks her trip to Earth and back took six hours when she’s really been gone for about two months. Many are suspicious about her return, and their feelings about her won’t be helped by the manner in which she decided to convince President Roslin to go in the direction she believes Earth is in by gun point, setting up the cliff hanger for the next episode.

Another story line which will probably continue throughout the season is the response of Saul Tigh, Galen Tyrol, Sam Anders, and Tory Foster after finding they are Cylons. They appear to be are a different type of Cylon, and at present are capable of continuing their loyalties towards humans. It is puzzling why the Cylons stopped their attack after identifying Anders. After all, they had previously tired to wipe out all life on all human colonies. That might become clearer as we learn the significance of the five remaining Cylons, including the one whose identity remains a mystery. I suspect that this will end with finding some type of continuing cycle of humans building machines which ultimately become indistinguishable from humans, only to be fated to repeat the cycle when the the joined humans and machine race build intelligent machines of their own.

If I am correct we will see an earlier point in this cycle with the spin off Caprica. TV Squad presents some spoilers as to what the show will be like with casting information which outlines the major characters.

Exit Wounds, The Torchwood finale aired in the U.K. during the past week and works well as both a season finale and, if it comes to this, a series finale. I won’t say very much for the benefit of those watching the series a few weeks behind on BBC America. The show does include the return of Captain John and resolves some continuing plot threads including the story of Jack’s brother. Jack’s personal time line also becomes even more complicated than it has been. Not everyone survives and Torchwood will be different should the show return.

BBC America aired Adrift which was one of the better episodes of the season. We see more of what Torchwood has been up to, and learn that the rift takes as well as gives. I was surprised by the ending. It was stronger leaving Jonah’s mother living with the knowledge of what happened to her son, but based upon past behavior I would have expected Torchwood to have slipped her some Retcon.

Doctor Who also returned in the U.K. and will be resuming soon on the SciFi Channel, along with The Sarah Jane Adventures. Partners in Crime won’t go down as one of the greats but it served its purpose well. It was done as a light episode to bring The Doctor and Donna (Catherine Tate) back together. Donna is less abrasive than she was in The Runaway Bride but is still a far different type of companion than Rose and Martha. After those experiences The Doctor is cautious about another taking on another female companion, setting up a brief misunderstanding:

Doctor: I want a mate
Donna: You want to mate?? You’re not mating with me sunshine!

Donna wasn’t the only familiar face seen in the episode but I’ll leave that as a surprise for those who are waiting to watch on the SciFi Channel. Next week they go to Pompeii on Volcano Day.

SciFi Friday: Voyage of the Damned a Success; Torchwood, Tribbles and Letterman; Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Voyage of the Damned, the third annual Doctor Who Christmas special, was a tremendous success. It was the most viewed episode of the revived series with 13.8 million viewers (and an unknown number of us in the US downloading copies with bit torrent). It is estimated that 55% of British televisions sets were tuned to the special–which must correlate with all those tales of empty cathedrals in Europe. (Warning, spoilers below).

The show took place on a space ship orbiting the Earth which was a replica of The Titanic. It shouldn’t be hard to guess its fate, but there was some mystery as to the motivations of the person responsible. The Doctor anticipated the danger as soon as he got on board:

The Doctor: Titanic. Who thought of the name?
Host: Information: it was chosen as the most famous vessel of the planet Earth.
The Doctor: Did they tell you why it was famous?

As with the previous Christmas specials, this one included the Doctor facing robotic symbols of Christmas, with angles replacing the robotic Santas in the first two specials. Unfortunately there was no good explanation for why they bothered to program all those robots to kill the surviving passengers when, if the Doctor hadn’t intervened, the Titanic would have crashed into the Earth killing everyone on both the Titanic and the Earth. Santa was not ignored in this year’s special as we learned about an alien view of earth’s Christmas customs. Mr. Cooper, the ship’s historian, explained:

I am Mr. Copper, the ship’s historian, and I shall be taking you to Old London Town in the country of UK, ruled over by Good King Wenceslas. Now, human beings worshiped the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws, and his wife Mary and every Christmas Eve, the people of UK go to war with the country of Turkey. They then eat the turkey people for Christmas dinner, like savages.

I’m not sure if there have been any other episodes in which so many characters are killed, including several sacrificing themselves to save others. Kylie Minogue made a fine companion but did not survive to return like Catherine Tate, who will be returning next season. David Tennant gave his usual fine performance. I’ve read speculation that his reaction to the death of Astrid, Kylie’s character, was enhanced by his personal experiences from the death of his mother in the past year. He also had a good scene when a passenger asked who he was:

Rickston: Hang on a minute! Who put you in charge? And who the hell are you, anyway?
The Doctor: I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old and I’m the man who’s going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?
Rickston: No.
The Doctor: In that case, allons-y!

The Doctor saves the Earth, and as in previous Christmas specials London is subjected to fake snow:

Mr. Copper: You know, between you and me, I don’t think this snow is real. I think it’s the ballast from the Titanic salvage entering the atmosphere.
The Doctor: Yeah, one of these days, it might snow for real.

Mr. Cooper wound up remaining on Earth. It seems that his degree as a historian wasn’t very legitimate, and if discovered during the investigation of the destruction of the Titanic he faced ten years in prison. Fortunately the credit card he had for “petty cash” had one million pounds on it, allowing him to lead a good life on Earth, with the possibility of running into The Doctor again.

We have to wait until spring to see more of Doctor Who, but its spin off, Torchwood, returns in January on both the BBC and BBC America. Freema has two videos of trailers for the second season here and here.

The Trek Movie Report has learned that there will be tribbles appearing in Star Trek 11. They better make sure that all the quadrotriticale is secure. Incidentally, tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the first showing of The Trouble with Tribbles.

David Letterman’s company has made a deal with the Writer’s Guild. Both his show and Craig Ferguson’s show will be returning with writers in January. The other returning talk shows will be at a disadvantage because of both not having their writers and as many potential guests might be unwilling to cross the picket lines.


Kristen Bell has been busy since Veronica Mars was canceled. The trailer for Forgetting Sarah Marshall is above.The movie, scheduled for release on May 30, 2008, stars Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Heroes) and Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, Knocked Up). As a public service to save time for those who are only interested in the scene with Kristen Bell in a bikini, here’s a screen grab. (Those interested in Jason Segel’s nude scene will have to watch the clip.)


Billie Piper Returning to Doctor Who


The BBC has confirmed rumors that Billie Piper, who played Rose Tyler, the first companion to Doctor Who after the series was revised, will be returning for three episodes in the upcoming season. Piper was named most popular actress at the National Television Awards in 2005 and 2006.

There will be quite a few returning companions next season. Catherine Tate, first seen in the Christmas special, The Runaway Bride, will return as Donna for the entire season. Freema Agyeman will return for part of the season after appearing in an arc on the Doctor Who spin off Torchwood. There are also rumors that John Barrowman, a previous companion who now stars in Torchwood as Captain Jack Harness, will also appear next season. A Doctor Who spin off staring Piper had been considered at one point.

SciFi Friday: Fall Premiers, Doctor Who and Torchwood

The Bionic Woman was the most hyped genre show premiering this week, and it even beat the second season premier of Heroes in the ratings. Just as Battlestar Galactica was transformed from a camp show of the past to a more modern, edgy show, The Bionic Woman is a total remake of The Six Million Dollar Woman. The first episode was mixed, and hopefully will improve after it doesn’t have to spend time setting up the story. Typical of modern television shows of this genre, the remake centers around a government agency with a questionable agenda. David Eick, also Executive Producer of Battlestar Galactica, brought in a new character played by BSG’s Starbuck, Katee Sackhoff. Sackhoff (above) plays an earlier bionic woman who has gone bad, and who steals the scenes from the current version of the heroine, Jaime Sommers.

The most highly hyped new genre show, Pushing Daisies, doesn’t premier until next Wednesday, and is reviewed by Variety:

Series creator Bryan Fuller previously explored the great beyond in “Dead Like Me,” but this is a far more impressive construct, built around Ned (Lee Pace), who discovers at an early age that he possesses the power to bring the dead back to life with a single touch.

The tradeoff: If he touches that person again, they die forever — and leaving the resurrected alive causes someone else in the vicinity to drop dead, achieving a weird kind of cosmic balance.

Ned has found a way to eke out a living from this talent on two fronts: His dazzling pies, where his touch invests the fruit with tremendous flavor; and moonlighting with a detective (Chi McBride) who inadvertently witnessed his gift first-hand, reviving murder victims long enough to find out who killed them and split the reward. Still, it’s a detached, emotionally frigid existence, as his coworker Olive (the ever-adorable Kristin Chenoweth) points out.

Enter Chuck (Anna Friel), the girl Ned loved as a child before she moved away. When Chuck turns up murdered, Ned brings her back for the sizable payout but can’t bring himself to kill her, creating this conundrum: Although strongly drawn to each other, they can never, ever touch..

While it’s hard to imagine “Pushing Daisies” becoming a major hit, the best hope is that a cultish audience will become enormously attached to it (which is almost inevitable) and the series finds a way to sustain its initial charms. Those are both tall orders, but as the premiere makes clear, hope really does spring eternal; this is one pilot that truly deserves to postpone death’s embrace.

Heroes returned with a solid first episode. After ending last season together in New York to save the world, most of the heroes are split up four months later. A lot happens in the episode. Mohinder is researching a virus which is deadly to those with powers, and infiltrates The Company. We find at the end that Peter Petrelli lost his memory after blowing up. Clare Bennett and her father are trying to blend in while hiding in California despite a contending with mean girl cheerleaders and a stalker who can fly whose interested in Claire, and a boss on a power trip who gets on the wrong side of Noah. Hiro finds out that his hero is not what he believed. They even managed to introduce some new characters, while eliminating others.

Kristen Bell will be joining Heroes for an arc later this season, and is rumored to play Clare’s sister. Her television and film career is apparently taking up too much of her time, causing her to change her mind on appearing as the lead in Legally Blonde on Broadway.

Doctor Who has another strong episode tonight for those following on the SciFi Channel as they finally reveal what The Master has been up to behind the scenes all season in The Sound of Drums. I previously reviewed the episode here, along with a video clip.

The BBC also presents some information on one of next season’s episodes, Rome Sweet Rome:

The Doctor and his new companion Donna are set to travel back in time to the Roman Empire for the fourth series of Doctor Who.

In one of the most ambitious episodes to date, The Doctor, played by David Tennant and Donna (Catherine Tate) arrive in Pompeii in AD 79, on the eve of the historic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The Time Lord and his companion are posed with an immediate dilemma; should they warn the residents of Pompeii of the forthcoming catastrophe or leave them to fend for themselves?

“Arriving in Pompeii marks the start of another exciting adventure for the Doctor and Donna,” said Doctor Who’s Executive Producer and Head Writer, Russell T Davies. “Donna is stunned to find herself in the midst of history’s most famous volcanic eruption. Viewers can expect many more ambitious storylines and a whole host of guest stars in 2008.”

TV Squad reports that some episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures are available on YouTube. There’s no word yet on when this Doctor Who spin off will be broadcast in the United States.

The premier of Torchwood might have given Pushing Daisies the idea of bringing people back from the dead to solve murders. The second episode of Torchwood shows why the show has a reputation of being the “adult” spin off of Doctor Who. An alien arrives on earth which requires orgasmic energy to survive. It takes over the body of a young girl who obtains this energy from engaging in wild sex which causes her partner to explode at climax. When trapped, she even attempts some girl on girl action with Gwen. Yes, it is worth waiting a week to catch this show in High Definition.

SciFi Friday: Madeleine L’Engle Dies; Doctor Who and Star Trek Join for Production of Hamlet, Battlestar Galactica Rumors, Awards, and High School Musical Scandal

Madeleine L’Engle has died at age 88. L’Engle is best known for writing A Wrinkle in Time, which won the John Newbery Award as the best children’s book of 1963 and has sold over six million copies. L’Engle also received a National Humanities Medal in 2004 from President Bush.

The BBC has announced plans for upcoming episodes of Doctor Who. As previously announced, the fourth season will air on the BBC next spring, with a Christmas episode planned for December. The fifth season has been postponed until 2010 in order to allow David Tennant to star in Hamlet in 2009 before returning to Doctor Who in 2010. In a unique Star Trek cross over with Doctor Who, Patrick Stewart will be playing Hamlet’s uncle Claudius in this Stratford-Upon-Avon production which wil run from July to November next year.

In order to help us get through 2009, there will be three special episodes broadcast instead of the usual single Christmas special. The BBC has also verified that Kylie Minogue will be appearing in this year’s Christmas episode and that Catherine Tate, who was in last year’s Christmas episode will appear in all thirteen episodes of season four. Freema Agyeman will return in the middle of next season.

This week those viewing Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel will see the conclusion of the two part episode, Human Nature and Family of Blood. These are two of the best episodes ever to appear, and I previously discussed them here. The episodes are based upon a novel which is available for download here.

The Doctor Who spin off Torchwood premiers on BBC America tomorrow night. The show will also start later this fall on HDNet (in high definition, obvioiusly). It’s a tough decision whether to watch now or hold out for HD. SciFi Storm has additional news on another spin off, The Sarah Jane Adventures. So far there are no plans to show it here in the United States and even access to the official web site is blocked to those outside of the U.K. One episode will include the return of the Slitheen, a family of Raxacoricofallapatorians who first appeared in the Doctor Who episodes Aliens of London and World War Three.

It’s bad enough that we must wait until next winter to see what happens after this spring’s cliff hanger on Battlestar Galactica. Now there are unconfirmed rumors that SciFi Channel might show half of the fourth season in 2008 and the second half in 2009 to get an extra season out of the show. Slice of SciFi has more reliable news on the made for television movie planned for later this year, which will also be released on DVD. Form the synopsis:

Battlestar Galactica: Razor takes you on an edge-of-your-seat adventure with an epic untold story of Lieutenant Kendra Shaw and the other Battlestar, Pegasus. Battlestar Galactica: Razor tells the story of Lee Adama’s (Jamie Bamber) first mission as commander of the Battlestar Pegasus and reveals the story of how Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) served her ship during the original Cylon attack on the Colonies. With clues to the fate of the entire Battlestar Galactica universe, this explosive adventure on DVD is a must own for fans before the final season of Battlestar Galactica airs on Sci Fi Channel.

The Hugo Awards have been announced, with Doctor Who among the winners:

2007 Hugo Award Trophy

  • Best Novel: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [Tor, 2006]
  • Best Novella: “A Billion Eves” by Robert Reed [Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2006]
  • Best Novelette: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Short Story: “Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Related Non-Fiction Book: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips [St. Martin’s Press, 2006]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro [Picturehouse]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who – “Girl in the Fireplace” (2006) Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Euros Lyn [BBC Wales/BBC1]

Doctor Who has a good shot at winning again next year. Besides the episodes mentioned above, the subsequent episode, Blink, is even better. (I have also reviewed the episode here but advise those who will be watching on the SciFi Channel to avoid these spoilers until after viewing the episode).
The Promethius Awards were also released from the Libertarian Futurist Society:

Best Novel: Glasshouse by Charles Stross

Hall of Fame Award: (tie) “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis and “True Names” by Vernor Vinge

Special Award: V for VendettaJohn Joseph Adams

There’s news on a number of upcoming movies. Keanu Reeves will star in a remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. A script has reportedly been completed for a second X-Files movie, with no details released. Considering his role in Californication on Showtime, I wonder if David Duchovny is demanding that Gillian Anderson appear nude. There are also rumors of a new movie based on Dune. Morgan Freeman is working on a movie version of Rendezvous with Rama.

The big movie question is how the nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens, which spread rapidly around the internet today, will affect further High School Musical movies. There were rumors Hudgens would be replaced, but it appears that Disney will be sticking with her. You would think that by now everyone would realize that privately taken photographs can still wind up making it on line. (Those wishing to see much more of Vanessa can see the photos spread on line today here.)

SciFi Friday: Somethings New

For the beginning of August there is a surprising amount of new material. Masters of Science Fiction premiered last week, but it is hard to see a show aired on Saturday night during midsummer surviving. The concept is certainly worthwhile as four short stories by established science fiction writers will be presented. The first episode, A Clean Escape, was mixed. The story centers around a psychiatrist and a patient who has blocked out his past. We learn a little at a time, and the final result certainly has relevance in a world with an out of control president who endangers our national security.

The problem I had with the episode was that the ultimate revelation was dramatic but left me wondering if it was really worth all the effort the psychiatrist put into such a transient victory. Even more puzzling was the suggestion at the end that they were repeating this. I also might have been a little disappointed in the episode as recently I’ve been reading some novels by Richard Powers who uses his background in neuropsychology to do far more than what can be done in a one hour television show.

I also picked up the direct to DVD Lost Tales from Babylon 5. It was nice to see the old station again, with the stories taking place after the events of the major arc but before its destruction. Unfortunately the stories could have remained lost. If they were shown as part of the regular series, both stories on the DVD would have been seen as below average episodes.

The latest remake of Flash Gordon premiers on SciFi Channel tonght. Reviews have not been very good, but at least I’ll record it and see how the buzz about the show is tomorrow. Weeds returns on Monday, followed by the premier of Californication, staring David Duchovny, on Showtime.

Doctor Who will be new to many in the United States tonight. Tonight’s episode, The Lazarus Experiment, is average but does contain elements which are important in the three part season finale. There are also some reports regarding next season. Catherine Tate, returning in her role of Donna from the Christmas episode, searches out The Doctor following an alien threat to London, and remains with him for the season. During the season they will meet Agatha Christie, and will go to the home planet of the Ood from the second season.

Freema Agyeman returns to Doctor Who midseason as Martha Jones, but first appears on a few episodes of the Doctor Who spin off Torchwood. The more mature nature of the show required some rewrites to clean it up for children who follow Doctor Who should they turn on Torchwood when Agyeman is on. Previously there were plans to air Torchwood on BBC America later this year and sell it on DVD in January. There was some great news this week from Mark Cuban as he’s going to pick up the show on HDNet starting September 17.

SciFi Friday: Doctor Who Season Three Ending, and Beginning

The third season of Doctor Who has ended in Great Britain (as well as for those of us who have downloaded episodes after they aired) and is just beginning in the United States. Before airing the third season the Christmas episode, The Runaway Bride, will be shown in which Catherine Tate played Donna, The Doctor’s companion for the single episode. In the first episode of season three, The Doctor meets medical student Martha Jones, played by Freema Agyeman, who becomes his companion for the entire season. As I noted in my review of the final episode of the season, Martha left The Doctor at the end of the season with hints that she will return.

The BBC has released further information on plans for upcoming episodes. Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue will play The Doctor’s companion in this year’s Christmas episode. When season four begins next spring, Catherine Tate will reprise her role as Donna. After the last couple of seasons with romantic under tones between The Doctor and his last two companions, this might bring about a change in atmosphere. The outspoken Donna might turn out to be a real challenge for The Doctor.

Next year Freema Agyeman will join Captain Jack and appear in a few episodes of the Doctor Who spin off Torchwood. Martha Jones will then return to Doctor Who for the second half of the season.