SciFi Weekend: New Director For Star Wars; JJ Abrams Book Out This Week; Doctor Who News; X-Men; Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; Thor

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With J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars, a replacement is needed for the next Star Trek movie. I see this as a good thing. Abrams can make a slick blockbuster movie, but I think that Star Wars is a much better fit for him than Star Trek. There is certainly value in how Abrams has revived interest in Star Trek, but he does not really get Star Trek. Perhaps new blood can help revive the best of Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the show. Deadline reports on a possible replacement:

We know that Paramount and Skydance Productions lost JJ Abrams as the director of the third installment of Star Trek when Abrams took on Star Wars. I’m hearing the studio is sweet on Joe Cornish to direct the next film. Cornish made his feature directorial debut on Attack The Block, the saga of a group of British youths who stave off an alien invasion in their rough neighborhood.

Cornish followed by being one of the writers on The Adventures Of Tin Tin, and he and Edgar Wright wrote the script for Ant-Man, the Marvel Studios film that Wright is going to direct. Long story short, he’s gotten exposure to bigger scale projects than Attack The Block, in which he admirably depicted a full scale alien invasion on a relatively small budget. Doing a movie like this would certainly put his career on a warp speed path. He’s already working with Paramount on the novel adaptation Snow Crash which he’s prepping to present to the studio. It’s early days on this, but stay tuned. Paramount is readying the movie to shoot in summer, 2014.

I don’t know anything more about Cornish than this, but I would like someone else to get a chance at Star Trek in place of Abrams. This does not mean I don’t like other works by  J.J. Abrams. Again, I just think that Star Trek was not a good fit for him. I have ordered his upcoming novel S. Wired says this is like downloading Lost to your brain:

S by Abrams

Let’s get the tl;dr version out of the way first: If you were a fan of Lost — and especially the speculation and theorizing that surrounded the show itself — then S., the novel/meta-narrative by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, is pretty much written for you. At times, it feels as if reading the book is like having the entirety of Lost (the television series and the fandom alike) downloaded into your head simultaneously.

As much S. is, as the slipcover helpfully describes, a “love letter to the written word” (which it is, but we’ll get to that later), it’s also very much a love letter to Abrams’ career to date. There are oblique references to almost all of Abrams’ past projects throughout the book: the romance tales of Felicity; the constantly-revised concepts of identity in Alias; the supernatural existentialism of Lost; the genre pastiche of Super 8; the found object storytelling of Cloverfield. All we needed was an appearance from the Starship Enterprise as commanded by Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt from the Mission: Impossible movies and we’d practically have a full set.

Despite that, though, S. – a fictional artifact, much like the found film of Cloverfield – hangs together surprisingly well. That’s an odd thing to say about something that has at least four different interconnected narratives unfolding at the same time, although not necessarily in chronological order, a la Lost‘s signature flashback-flashforward storytelling. Perhaps you remember the original video tease for S., which appeared online this summer without any explanation:

The video connects to and contains Ship of Theseus, a novel written by a mysterious political dissident known as “V.M. Straka.” Little is known about Straka,  even by “F.X. Caldeira,” the translator of his works and publisher of this final novel, published after Straka’s disappearance and assumed death. Ship is one of the texts of S., with Caldeira’s footnotes for the novel offering a second text that seemingly gives context into Straka’s life and identity.

And then there is a third layer: The copy of Ship that exists in S. has been heavily annotated by a scholar researching Straka’s identity who doesn’t quite agree with Caldeira’s footnotes. His notes soon become a conversation with Jen, a grad student with too much time on her hands, as well as a chip on her shoulder and numerous secrets in her past. That conversation becomes the fourth text, another thread to follow…

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It appears there will be a mini-episode released, perhaps prior to The Day of the Doctor:

The British Board of Film Classification have announced today that a minisode has been made for The Day of the Doctor, entitled The Night of the Doctor. The BBFC passed the material for release in the UK. The minisode has a running length of six minutes and fifty-four seconds, and stars David Tennant and Matt Smith.

While, as far as we know, Peter Davison does not appear in The Day of The Doctor, he will have a role in the 50th Anniversary celebration of Doctor Who.

Cory Doctorow discussed Traversable Achronal Retrograde Domains In Spacetime, a physics paper on “the spacetime through which Doctor Who’s Tardis travels.” Note the acronym. There is also a version for non-physicists, The Blue Box White Paper,

What Culture! gives a detailed analysis of the trailer to X-Men: Days of Futures Past (trailer above)

Deadline reports that Paramount is fast tracking an upcoming movie written by David Chase:

In a big spec deal, Paramount Pictures has acquired Little Black Dress, a script by The Sopranos creator David Chase that will be fast-tracked to be the next film Chase directs. I’m told that this is a character-driven film about a twentysomething female war veteran who comes back from Afghanistan grappling with a disability. While working a potentially lethal investigation at a post-war job, she gets involved with a superstitious NYPD detective who helps bring her back from a personal precipice.

Arrow Crucible Black Canary

Arrow remains the better of the two prime time shows which tie into the DC and Marvel comic universes. This week, not only was Black Canary’s identify revealed, but it tied into Oliver’s back story both at home and to the flash backs on the boat (or both boats). Next week: The League of Assassins.

There was not a new episode of Agents of SHIELD this week. The previous week there was a rather lame explanation as to what Sky is looking for–information on her parents. I suspect they are working towards a parallel between Sky and Agent Coulson both looking for secrets which SHIELD is hiding from them–once Coulson realizes that there is a secret about “magical Tahiti” and his return from the dead. Still, they might have come up with something a little more creative for Sky.

The November 19 episode of SHIELD, entitled The Well will be a cross-over, taking place after the events of Thor: The Dark World. The episode will be directed by Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, sort of making this a three-way cross over.

The official synopsis reads: “In the aftermath of the events chronicled in the feature film Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, Coulson and the Agents of SHIELD pick up the pieces – one of which threatens to destroy a member of the team.”

Thor Agent Coulson

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

TARDIS in on Google Maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on crossover characters from other DC comics here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orphan Is The New Black

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

Natalie Portman expects there to be a Thor 3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Trek Science

Via Techeblog

SciFi Weekend: The 12th Doctor; The Next Batman; SHIELD And The Avengers; Captain America; Star Wars; Star Trek; Homeland; Dexter; The White Queen; Piracy

Last week white smoke emerged from the BBC and soon afterwards Peter Capaldi was introduced as the 12th Doctor on a show simulcast in the U.K., the United States, Canada, and Australia (video above). BBC America has a run down on the news coverage. The Guardian introduces Capaldi to non-Brits.

Every time there is a regeneration, there is speculation that the next Doctor might not someone other than a white male. Neil Gaiman claims that a black actor has turned down the role. Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, and Jenna Coleman discussed the transition in this interview. An excerpt:

Is writing that final story for Matt Smith’s Doctor the biggest pressure you’ve faced, in doing this show?

MOFFAT:  The biggest pressure will always be introducing a new Doctor.  And I can’t imagine it will ever be tougher than with “The Eleventh Hour” because everything changed.  It’s not an ideal way to run television.  It really isn’t.  That was mad.  All the execs left, the producer left, and all the stars left.  You think, “Christ, how do you get away with that?!”  We’re not in that situation this time, and it’s good that we’re not.  People say, “It must have been great and exciting and marvelous that you had all that new stuff,” but not really.  But, we got away with it.  I just remember thinking, “Are people going to buy that this is the same show, when it clearly is not?”

Do you wish that you could just introduce the new Doctor via the show, when he finally shows up?

MOFFAT:  I’d love to, but that’s physically impossible.  It was Russell’s plan not to tell anyone that Chris [Eccleston] was going to change in the last episode, but it leaked after one week.  I wish it were possible.   The fact is that those actors’ agents have to say that they’re available.  They have to take jobs.  It’s going to leak, so you have to take command of that story.  It’s annoying.  I’d far rather not tell anybody anything, seriously.  If you’re telling a joke, you don’t want anybody telling the punchline before you get to the end.  Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible now.  Everybody wanders around with cameras now.  A few years ago, no one had a camera on them.  Now, every little human being goes around with a camera on their phone.  How am I going to keep secrets with that?!  It’s tough.  It can be irritating, but what can you do?

Moffat started with a new cast with both Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. With Jenna Coleman still being relatively new to the series, the show with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman will have a different feel than during most of Moffat’s tenure with Matt Smith and the Ponds.

Now that we know who will play the next Doctor, the next major succession is who will play Batman when he appears in the next Superman movie. Rumor has it that Orlando Bloom is the leading contender.

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Joss Whedon discussed synergy between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the universe of The Avengers:

Speaking at the recent TCAs, Whedon said fans will spot some synergy in the run-up to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World. “There will be as much as we can allow,” he said. “We’re still working that out. It’s a fun opportunity, but it’s not the reason for the show. It’s not an Easter egg farm, we want people to come back.”

The pilot kicks off with Angel alumnus J August Richards as an “unregistered gifted” that the SHIELD agents must track down. Don’t expect a superhero-of-the-week show, though, “There could be a device, a mystery,” Whedon continued.

“There’s so many aspects as to what’s happened since everybody in the world found out there’s a superhero team and aliens invaded New York. We want to be able to change it up every week: spy stuff, hero stuff, heartfelt stuff. We want to make sure the humor is there, but every week, you get something that feels a little bit different.”

Disney has also released a full synopsis for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.

Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

These Avengers-themed sex toys will definitely never be sold at the many stores around the Disney theme parks, even should the Avengers characters be moved from Universal to WDW in the future.

ABC is in talks to bring another genre show to television–a live action Star Wars show. I really hope this happens, not because I care whether there is a weekly Star Wars show but because maybe this would lead CBS (who appears to own the rights, but it is somewhat murky) to counter by returning Star Trek to television. Star Trek worked far better as a weekly series than intermittent movies which are forced by market demands to be big action movies.

After Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars, there was talk of expanding the Star Wars presence at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. I expressed skepticism over speculation that they would  get rid of Muppet Vision 3D and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground for this expansion. Earlier in the week I was looking at the refurbishment schedule at Walt Disney World and noticed that Muppet Vision 3D is closed August 6 through September 2 for refurbishment. In addition, the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground will be closed September 3 through November 19 for refurbishment. They might not be around forever, but it doesn’t appear likely that they plan to remove them in the near future. As is usually the case at WDW, other areas will also be closed during these times. The most significant is that Spaceship Earth will be closed August 18-24.

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On Orange is the New Black, Kate Mulgrew ran the prison kitchen instead of the Starship Voyager. She was interviewed by Vulture, and told about one Star Trek reference thrown into the show:

At one point Natasha Lyonne has a line, “I thought I was your Spock.”
Yes, they threw that in. I’m sure they’ll do some more of that. I think that was intentional and very clever!

Speaking of Star Trek, Blastr describes how the show was saved by Lucille Ball.

In 1965, Roddenberry got a pilot order from NBC and produced the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage.” It was rejected by the network, reportedly because it was “too cerebral,” and for most shows that’s where the story would have ended. Luckily for Roddenberry, he had Ball on his side. The story goes that she still thought the Star Trek idea had legs, and used her considerable influence in television to push for NBC to give Roddenberry a second chance. The network made the exceedingly rare move of ordering a second pilot from Roddenberry, who overhauled almost the entire cast of characters from “The Cage” and eventually produced “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” That pilot was accepted, the show was given a series order, and the rest is history.

Damian Louis interviewed about his role on Homeland in the video above.

Anna Torv returns to television following Fringe in a show expected to air on HBO next year. Torv will play a lesbian yoga instructor.

Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah McKay (Season 7, episode 6) - Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime - Photo ID: dexter_706_0087

We don’t know yet how Dexter will end but executive producer Sara Colleton realizes that she can’t make everyone happy.

“This has been the ending that we have talked about for years,” she said. “So to us, it feels right for our show and how we feel about it. I hope fans will think it’s right [too].”

The exec conceded that there is no way to make “everybody happy” with the conclusion of the Michael C Hall series.

“At the end of the day, we know that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t,” she said. “There will be people who hate it, but we can’t try to anticipate that or put it through the lens of any other show’s finale – because that was another show.

“This is our show. This is Dexter.”

It is hard to believe that things will end well for Dexter Morgan. Multiple routes to doom have arisen this season. So far this has included Dr. Vogel and Deb when she is in a crazy mood. Last week episode showed two additional threats. He has decided he wants to be a mentor to Zach Hamilton, but Zach appears unhinged enough to turn on Dexter. Then there was the return of Hannah McKay.

Having a hard time waiting until Game of Thrones returns? The White Queen on Starz might help.

Piracy drops when there are legal ways to view shows. It comes as no surprise that piracy has spiked in response to the Time Warner cable blackout of CBS.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Star Trek Into Darkness; Revolution; Superman; Thor; Captain America; Elementary; Sherlock; New SciFi Series; The Newsroom; Veronica Mars

Doctor Who Ice Warriors

Doctor Who brought us to the Cold War and the return, after forty years of the Ice Warriors. The episode provided a good, suspenseful submarine/Aliens drama until the problems got wrapped up too easily. At least this time the Doctor didn’t solve everything with the Sonic Screwdriver alone. He also gave a speech like many that James T. Kirk used to convince aliens to play nice on Star Trek. The cold war backdrop and idea of mutually assured destruction did provide a good backdrop for the discussions with Grand Marshall Skaldac over whether he would destroy the earth. (Spoiler: Earth was spared.) Professor Grisenko provided a second surrogate Doctor.

Mark Gatiss showed us what is inside of the Ice Warrior’s suit and solved the perpetual problem which is present in many episodes of why the Doctor doesn’t use the TARDIS during a crisis to overcome a problem. There was some mumbo jumbo about the TARDIS’s Hostile Action Displacement System (not seen since the Patrick Troughton) has been reactivated to take the TARDIS elsewhere to remain safe. This raises two other problems. How does the TARDIS’s translation matrix continue to work after the TARDIS is gone and  how does the Doctor get to the South Pole, where the TARDIS rematerialized? Will there be reference to their adventures getting to the South Pole next week?  (I’m still wondering how Amy and Rory got back to earth after the Doctor left them behind at the end of A Good Man Goes to War.)

There were no clear clues to the Clara mystery but one exchange might be significant. When faced with the threat of World War III being set off Clara pointed out, “The world didn’t end in 1983, or I wouldn’t be here?” The Doctor responded, “History’s in flux, it can be unwritten.” Does that apply to the fate of the girl who died twice?

This week’s behind the scene video is available here.

Jenna-Louise Coleman had some hints on the Clara mystery in an interview with TV Guide:

In a way, Clara is connected with the 50th anniversary. We saw in the Christmas episode that her birthday is Nov. 23, the same date that Doctor Who first aired.
Coleman:
  In the Christmas episode, I didn’t know why that was the case. But again, we will find out by the end of this series. But it’s really exciting — [the season finale] is phenomenal.  My spine was tingling when I read it. Again, I’m teasing your so badly here, but there’s the beginning opening sequence, which [is]  kind of building up into the 50th. It’s just huge.

She also discussed her relationship with the TARDIS:

You get to pilot that TARDIS in one episode. What does driving it entail?

Coleman: There’s a certain part of the TARDIS you go to, that liftoff thing. But you know, the TARDIS and Clara have a relationship. Actually I don’t think we’ve talked about this in interviews before. It’s something that’s running through the series. Instead of it being like, “Does so-and-so like Clara?” The TARDIS and Clara have a bit of a face-off. So, the Doctor is obviously bringing back somebody new. I think we’ve done a whole additional content scene of me talking to the TARDIS, and the TARDIS is making fun of Clara. They kind of have an argument. They’ve got a relationship individual to the Doctor where they have a dialogue.

nF7Metg

Doctor Who is filming the 50th Anniversary episode in Trafalgar Square as pictured above. Another cast member  has been announced:

Jemma Redgrave will be returning to Doctor Who for the show’s fiftieth anniversary special. She previously appeared in 2012’s The Power of Three playing Kate Stewart, daughter of the legendary Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

Jemma is part of a brilliant cast that is already known to include Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman who are joined by the returning David Tennant and Billie Piper plus screen legend John Hurt and Joanna Page. Filming is underway on the special which will be a 3D spectacular shown later this year.

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There’s a new poster for Star Trek Into Darkness and a new trailer will be out on Tuesday. There are still rumors that, while named John Harrison, Benedict Cumberbatch’s character will turn out to be Khan. Cumberbatch won’t respond to the rumors saying, “Umm, I play a character called John Harrison. I can’t say more.” Some fans who believe this will be a re-imagining of the Khan story are upset since the change in the timeline in the first J.J. Abram’s Star Trek movie wouldn’t account for a different version of the Khan story. Of course the same might be argued about many other changes from the Roddenberry universe.

On last week’s Revolution, after lots of hype, Juliet finally told Google Guy what was going on. Something about how they all died on the island and are in purgatory, with no explanation of the flash forward. Actually there was something about viruses which only eat electricity and reproduce, sort of like Tribbles. I’m not very hopeful about the show, seeing it take a trajectory closer to that of FlashForward than Lost.  I do wonder what type of genre show Elizabeth Mitchell will be in next and what type of doctor or scientist she will play.

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Man of Steel is featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, along with mention of other genre (and non-genre) movies:

This week’s cover story reveals how the new film (out June 14) attempts to humanize the superhuman by finding new flaws and vulnerabilities. The most common one, however, was off the table: “I’ll be honest with you, there’s no Kryptonite in the movie,” says director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) Those glowing green space rocks – Superman’s only crippling weakness – have turned up so often as a plot point in movies, the only fresh option was not to use it. Anyway, if you want to make an audience relate to a character, a galactic allergy isn’t the way to do it.

Henry Cavill (Immortals), the latest star to wear the red cape, instead plays a Superman who isn’t fully comfortable with that god-like title. This film reveals that even on Krypton, young Kal-El was a special child, whose birth was cause for alarm on his home planet. (More on that in the magazine) And once on Earth, his adoptive parents, Ma and Pa Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), urge him not to use his immense strength – even in dire emergencies — warning that not every human would be as accepting of him as they are. So Clark Kent grows up feeling isolated, longing for a connection to others, and constantly hiding who he is. As a result, Man of Steel presents the frustrated Superman, the angry Superman, the lost Superman. “Although he is not susceptible to the frailties of mankind, he is definitely susceptible to the emotional frailties,” Cavill says.

That’s just the set-up. Once the Kryptonian villain General Zod (Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon) arrives to threaten the Earth, eventually the passionate Superman steps forward, too. It helps that he has a reason to care about the home he’s defending, and we can all thank Amy Adams’ Lois Lane for that. “I think she’s very transient. She’s ready to pick up and go at a moment’s notice,” Adams says of the hard-bitten journalist. “I think that definitely could be part of what she sees in Superman — not really laying down roots, not developing trust.”

Iron Man 3 will include a trailer for Thor: The Dark World. Screenrant has some information on Thor 2 along with Captain America 2.

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I gave up on watching Elementary earlier this season but might return to it after reading that Natalie Dormer of The Tudors and Game of Thrones will be playing Irene Adler in a three episode arc which begins May 9. It will be interesting to see how she compares to Lara Pulver’s (often nude) portrayal of her in Sherlock. Dormer has shown in The Tudors that she would have no qualms in topping Adler’s scenes if allowed on broadcast television. Henry Cavill, who is staring in Superman, also had a major role on The Tudors.

It was previously announced that the first episode of season 3 of Sherlock will be entitled The Empty Hearse. It has now been announced that the second episode will be entitled The Sign of Three.

Syfy has seven new series being considered, some of which are hard science fiction. These are in addition to Ron Moore’s upcoming series about a disease outbreak entitled Helix.

Orion
The space opera centers on Orion, an adventurous female relic hunter who tracks down valuable artifacts while trying to piece together her past. Set amid an intergalactic war pitting humans against a terrifying alien race, Orion must decide whether to use her abilities to save herself or commit to the cause and unearth long hidden artifacts that could free all of humanity from a horrible fate. Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes Burton (Alphas) will write and executive produce, with George Krstic and Ryuhei Kitamura on board as co-executive producers. F.J. Desanto will serve as a supervising producer on the UCP project.

Sojourn
The first detective ever in space is tasked with investigating a murder on a starship — headed to colonize another planet –­ and instead becomes embroiled in a vast conspiracy involving a mysterious terrible crime dating back to the original launch of the ship 50 years ago. Phil Levens (Smallville) will write, with Blum (Paranormal Activity) on board to produce the Lionsgate entry.

Clandestine
After a clan of bandits are nearly destroyed and left for dead by Coalition forces, they take refuge in the nearest safe haven, a derelict Coalition starship floating in space. Once onboard, they masquerade as Coalition officers while continuing their criminal ways ­– until they stumble upon a shocking realization about the true nature of the Coalition. Todd Stashwick and Dennis Calero will write, with Hurd (The Walking Dead) and John Shiban (Hell on Wheels) attached to executive produce the UCP project.

Infinity
When an alien armada is sighted in the region of Pluto, the Earth government turns to a young billionaire industrialist — who has the only ship ready for interstellar travel — to greet the aliens and avoid a catastrophe. Powered by secret alien technology discovered on Earth in the 1960s, the ship engages in a firefight that sends them spinning through a wormhole into an uncharted region of space. Lost in the universe, the team struggles to survive as they encounter new planets and alien species, searching for a way back home. Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) will write the Berman/Braun produced entry from Universal Television.

Silver Shields
When his father is slain by assassins connected to the government of the large nearby city of Pont Royal, farm boy Caymer journeys there to continue his father’s legacy as a member of the local police force — and to solve the mystery of his father¹s death. He discovers that his simple country view on life is at odds with the big city, filled with orcs and other magical creatures. Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Alphas) will write and executive produce the UCP effort alongside producer Aaron Kaplan.

Shelter  
A massive meteorite is headed toward Earth, forcing 30,000 hand-picked humans to live underground in a government-funded shelter in order to start a new society. What begins as a Utopia quickly succumbs to the old human faults and jealousies as certain members of society create alliances to gain favor and power. Meanwhile, things on the surface are not what they seem. Humans slowly realize that this event may have been fated and the survivors meant for a greater purpose in rebooting life on Earth. Bruce Joel Rubin (Deep Impact) will write and executive produce the UCP project with writer/co-executive producer/writer Ari Rubin.

Dominion (working title, formerly known as Legion)
The effort, based on the feature film Legion produced by Bold Films, is set 20 years after evil angels have descended from heaven to lay waste to the human souls they felt God had favored over them. A reluctant “savior” must arise to protect Vega, the last remaining stronghold of humanity. The savior has more to fear than just angels, as the elites of this new society conspire to gain power for themselves. Vaun Wilmott (Sons ofAnarchy) will write and co-executive the Sony Pictures TV project, with ScottStewart (Defiance) attached to direct and executive produce. David Lancaster will EP as well.

The reboot of Blake’s 7 has also been received a thirteen episode order. I’m surprised that it has taken this long to bring this classic back. A reboot does make more sense than continuing the original but I would have loved to see how they might have managed to continue after the events of the original show’s finale.

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Yvonne Strahovski will be reprising her role as Hannah McKay on the final season of Dexter. We can expect lots of flowers and murder.

HBO has announced that Aaron Sorkin’s show The Newsroom will return on July 14.

Last month I mentioned contributing to the Kickstart campaign to finance a Veronica Mars movie. They wound up raising 5.7 million. The bulk of this came from people other than myself.

SciFi Weekend: Spoilers on Star Trek Into Darkness; Doctor Who News; Carrie Fisher and Star Wars VII; Joss Whedon on Superheroes; Ashley Judd Running For Senate

A new trailer has been released for Star Trek Into Darkness (video above). TrekMovie.com revealed several spoilers coming from an extended screening in Brazil:

From the extended beginning of the film…

  • Opening sequence (previewed at IMAX theaters in December) has been reordered to have Nibiru Volcano sequence now opens the film followed by title card and then the scenes in London and at the hospital

  • Nibiru mission ends with Kirk rescuing Spock by violating the prime directive by revealing the Enterprise to Nibiru natives so he can beam Spock out of the Volcano

  • Kirk has a scene in bed (back in San Francisco) in bed with two “cat women”

  • Kirk makes mention of hoping to get assigned to a “five year mission” (implying that the famed five year mission hasn’t started yet for the time he has been captain)

  • Kirk is demoted for violating prime directive on Nibiru, loses command of Enterprise with Pike to take over command Kirk as first officer

  • Pike wanted to send Kirk back to Academy but was convinced (possibly ordered?) to make Kirk first officer of Enterprise by Admiral Marcus (played by Peter Weller)

  • Spock assigned to another ship

  • The “father” character uses his Starfleet ring as a bomb (dropping it into water for a reaction) and destroys a facility (in London)

  • London attack leads to big meeting of Starfleet captains which itself is attacked by John Harrison, resulting in Pike being injured…Harrison transport away

Later scenes in the film….

  • Enterprise severely damaged falling to Earth with Spock in command ordering evacuation

  • Kirk and Scott seen in Engineering trying to stabilize ship

  • Later Spock scene beaming down to San Francisco and starting long chase with Harrions

  • Eventually Spock meets up with Harrison and engages in a fight

Doctor and Clara

The BBC has announced a three day convention at ExCeL London for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Filming on the 50th Anniversary episode  begins on March 18. Presumably more information on the show, such as who is actually appearing, will be more likely to leak out when they are filming the episode. Peter Davison does not believe that the earlier Doctors played by older actors will appear:

Speaking at February’s MystiCon panel, he said: “I honestly don’t know very much. I know that Steven Moffat will have something planned. I don’t think it will involve the older Doctors, certainly in their present form, because of course we’re meant to look exactly as we did when we left the TARDIS and none of us really do. Some of us are not here any more and others of us have weathered less well than others. I don’t know where I’d put myself in that category. I’m not going to make that decision.

“I think we’ll be featured somewhere but I should think it’s probably footage lifted from older Doctor stories. I don’t know. We are doing some Big Finish audios. I know that there are events planned by the BBC. I’ve got a meeting with the head of BBC Wales when I get back to go through various things the BBC have got planned. I don’t think she’s going to offer me a part in it… I might be wrong.”

He adds: “I decided that if we weren’t going to be involved that I would get together with Colin [Baker] and Sylvester [McCoy] and make our own little special… If we can possible manage it, we’re going to get into the 50th anniversary special whether we’re invited or not!”

The Daily Beast has five facts about Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Matt Smith told The Mirror that his favorite moment on Doctor Who was kissing Jenna-Louise Coleman:

Clara and the Timelord snogged in the Christmas Day special and Matt said: “My favourite moment? I like our kiss, that was quite fun, even though it was hell to do. We actually did a couple of different versions there might be some outtakes.”

He also loves New York:

If I could film we’d film every episode of Doctor Who in New York. I have an affinity with the city. It has some wonderful locations and it is devastatingly vast and huge. Central Park looks amazing on camera.

Doctor and Clara notebook

Matt might love New York, but he cannot go back in time to whenAmy and Rory are living. We have a definitive answer as to why the Doctor will never again meet up with Amy and Rory from this interview with Steven Moffat from BlogtorWho:

Last year friend of the blog Dan Martin took time to chat with Steven Moffat about the Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1 finale, The Angels Take Manhattan  – and more specifically, “The Washington Theory”. Dan asked the current showrunner why could Amy and Rory not just travel to Washington (or Boston, or anywhere for that matter) and meet The Doctor there? Had Moffat left a useful plot thread dangling to bring the beloved companions back in a couple of years? Not so, according to Moffat…

“New York would still burn. The point being, he can’t interfere. Here’s the ‘fan answer’ – this is not what you’d ever put out on BBC One, because most people watch the show and just think, ‘well there’s a gravestone so obviously he can’t visit them again’. But the ‘fan answer’ is, in normal circumstances he might have gone back and said, ‘look we’ll just put a headstone up and we’ll just write the book’. But there is so much scar tissue, and the number of paradoxes that have already been inflicted on that nexus of timelines, that it will rip apart if you try to do one more thing. He has to leave it alone. Normally he could perform some surgery, this time too much surgery has already been performed. But imagine saying that on BBC One!”
More on the  Ponds later in the interview:
And what about return to the show for The Ponds? Moffat said, “You could never eliminate the possibility of dream sequences and flashbacks, but will the Doctor see them again? No. When I was first talking to Karen and Arthur about it, we said ‘let’s make it the proper ending’. Bringing back things just gives you sequel-itis. Just end it and get out. Heaven knows if they’ll appear in some form of flashback – I have no plans to do that I have to say – but the story of Amy and The Doctor is definitively over.”
That’s the definitive answer. Not the Doctor Who equivalent of Star Trek technobabble about that nexus of timelines that might rip apart. Doctor Who has been utterly inconsistent when dealing with the laws of time travel. The real answer is that Moffat doesn’t want them to return. His point about “sequel-itis” is more grounded in reality than the “nexus of timelines.”
None of this stops a future showrunner from having the Doctor and Amy meet again. There’s also another way to conceivably involve Amy and Rory in a Doctor Who story should Moffat or a future showrunner decide to boost ratings with such an episode. The Doctor could go back in time to Washington or anywhere else during the time in which Amy and Rory are living out their lives in the past. A story could be written in which both the Doctor and the Ponds get caught up with the same menace but are working independently and never actually meet. If this is done after the Doctor regenerates it would be possible for Amy to get a glance of the Doctor without meeting him. If she actually had much contact with him she would probably recognize him as Sarah Jane Smith recognized the Doctor.

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Last week Carrie Fisher said she would be in Star Wars VII:

Disney is going to continue the Star Wars saga, producing movies set to hit theaters starting in 2015. Can you confirm whether you’ll reprise the role of Princess Leia?

Yes.

What do you think Princess Leia is like today?

Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home [laughs].   I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.

And still wearing the bagel buns?

The bagel buns and the bikini, because probably she has sundowners syndrome. At sundown, she thinks that she’s 20-something. And she puts it on and gets institutionalized.

She subsequently said she was joking (in a statement which many have speculated Disney insisted she release). While she was undoubtedly joking about being in an old folks’ home, it does appear likely that she will appear. George Lucas told Business Week that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford have all been contacted:

Asked whether members of the original Star Wars cast will appear in Episode VII and if he called them before the deal closed to keep them informed, Lucas says, “We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ ” He pauses. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.” Then he adds: “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.”

Hulk Iron Man

Joss Whedon discussed topics including the difficulty in making movies about the Hulk and most of the DC Comics superheroes with Deadline Hollywood:

DEADLINE: What about speculation over potential Hulk spin-off stories? 
WHEDON: The Hulk is the most difficult Marvel property because it’s always about balance. Is he a monster? Is he a hero? Are you going to root for a protagonist who spends all his time trying to stop the reason you came to the movie from happening? It’s always a dance. I don’t think the first two movies nailed it, but I don’t envy them the task. It was easier to have him in a group than to build everything around him. I don’t think there would be any problem getting a movie together that had enough Banner, even if there was also Hulk. But if he was only Hulk for the entire movie I think Mark [Ruffalo] at some point would go, why am I here? I would be less inclined to pursue a storyline where the Hulk is only ever the Hulk. Mark [Ruffalo] and I loved the Hulk and went over and over the concept of rage and how it should manifest, and that part of it was fascinating to both of us. But when it comes time for the Hulk he has to put on the silliest damn pajamas you ever saw, a tiara made of balls, and a bunch of dots on his face and growl around like an idiot. The real heart of the experience ultimately becomes playing Banner. And people fell in love with Banner because I think Mark has you from the first time he shows up.

DEADLINE: How much do you keep an eye on Warner Bros with their DC properties?
WHEDON: I don’t keep that close an eye on it. But I loved Batman Begins so much and thought Christopher Nolan nailed Batman in a way that nobody ever had. It couldn’t be more different from The Avengers, and the Marvel and DC universes are different animals. If they actually crack the code which has not been done in terms of creating a shared sensibilities where all the movies are interesting and come together, I’m going to be thrilled. I have no fear that we’re going to be stepping on each others’ turf.

DEADLINE: You’ve had a history with DC. Do you think anyone will ever pull off Wonder Woman?
WHEDON: It’s not easy. It’s not a simple trick. The Marvel properties with the exception of Batman who has often been described as the Marvel character in the DC universe are much easier to translate to a modern audience. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern are so far above us and their powers are amorphous and that makes it 10 times harder. Even when you’re doing a fight, it’s harder to write a fight for Thor than it is for Captain America because he’s that much stronger. I loved what I was doing on Wonder Woman. Clearly I was an excited party of one. I wrote the movie, I felt good about the characters, the structure needed work, I did another outline, they read it and were done. There wasn’t even a phone call.

The difficulties which Whedon raised in superhero stories are complicated even more when the viewer is aware that the hero has a bunch of other superheroes as friends to call on. Marvel President Kevin Feige does address the question as to why Tony Stark doesn’t call in the other Avengers for help in Iron Man 3:

It’s a good question, and it’s sort of half and half. I am betting that like the comics you don’t have to keep – if you are reading a standalone “Iron Man” comic, they don’t spend every page explaining where every other Marvel hero is. The audience kind of accepts that there are times when they’re on their own and there are times when they are together. I’m betting that movie audiences will feel the same way. That being said, there is a little bit of lip service here and there to that. There is also just the very nature of Tony wants to, once he barely survives that house attack you saw today, and even you saw it in the message he left for Pepper, he’s basically saying “I’m going off the grid to try to figure something out.”

Christopher Nolan says he does not want to return to Batman, but is involved with other superheroes, producing Man of Steel and possibly Justice League. His next movie about black holes, Interstellar, will be released on November 14, 2014.

Deadline Hollywood reports that a series by Ron Moore has been picked up by SyFy:

Syfy has finalized a 13-episode straight-to-series order to Helix, a dark thriller from Ronald D. Moore, marking Battlestar Galactica developer/executive producer’s return to the network. Steven Maeda (Lost, CSI: Miami) has come on board as showrunner of the project, written by Cameron Porsandeh. Helix, from Sony Pictures TV, where Moore and his Tall Ship Prods are under an overall deal, is about a team of scientists investigating a possible disease outbreak Hot In Cleveland) and Maeda executive produce, with Porsandeh serving as co-executive producer. “With its well-drawn characters, taut drama, and incredible production team, we couldn’t be more excited to see this intense thrill-ride of a series come to life,” said Syfy’s president of original content Mark Stern. Helix is expected to begin production early in 2013 to debut later this year. In addition to hit Battlestar Galactica, Moore also co-created and executive produced Syfy’s prequel series Caprica.

SyFy is moving the final five episodes of Merlin to May. And people wonder why fans often download genre shows as opposed to waiting five months or more to view them.


Ashley Judd has reportedly told advisers that she does plan to run for the Senate against Mitch McConnell. The actress, best known to Star Trek fans as Robin Lefler, has been attacked by the right wing for everything from her residency to nude scenes she as done. Attack of the Show chose Ashley Judd as the fourth Hottest Women of Star Trek (video above). She also has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has been a Democratic activist.

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, one of the stars of Utopia, believes that continuing the story into a second season may or may not work:

Do you think there is scope for a second series of Utopia?
“I think there is scope for a second series, but I also think that it is self-contained. It really does depend. Sometimes you think things could have carried on or things aren’t resolved, and people can get annoyed by that.

“But some pieces of work don’t have a resolution and they leave you to figure it out, and that’s great. Utopia could carry on, but resolution isn’t always good.”

Io9 lists twenty things which Back To The Future got wrong about the future.

Conservative Hysteria Over Obama and The Medical Profession Working Together To Reduce Gun Violence

Today’s announcement of plans by the Obama administration shows that 1) Barack Obama is paying attention to input from the medical profession, and 2) the right wing still has its problem with paranoid kooks seeing conspiracy theories in benign statements.

The conservative Weekly Standard posted the relevant passage under a fairly neutral headline, Obama Asks Doctors to Help Deal With Guns:

PRESERVE THE RIGHTS OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS TO PROTECT THEIR PATIENTS AND COMMUNITIES FROM GUN VIOLENCE: We should never ask doctors and other health care providers to turn a blind eye to the risks posed by guns in the wrong hands.

Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way.

Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.

These measures were requested by the American Medical Association. The government has strict regulations to protect the privacy of medical information. The rules govern both when information must be kept secret and when information might be revealed to others and HIPPA rules never prevented physicians from warning law enforcement about threats of violence. It is helpful to make this clear as many people do have misconceptions about the law. The protection of the rights of health care provides to talk about gun safety is in response to conservatives who have wanted to use government to intrude in the physician/patient relationship and prohibit such discussion.

Rational people would find nothing controversial here, but many conservatives are not rational. The Examiner is running this story with a headline making an absurd claim that Obama makes your doctor a spy for the federal government. The article makes a number of false claims, including those in this paragraph:

Thus, the inherent, traditional privacy that has characterized the doctor-patient relationship is now gone, unless Congress rescinds the executive orders in question. Obama stated in one of the executive orders that his new Obamacare law contains no requirement of privacy and supersedes the healthcare portability act of 1998 in which Congress strengthened the privacy of healthcare patients. Obamacare wiped out all legal protections of privacy.

This makes absolutely no change in in the HIPPA law they cite, which always included the right of physicians to release patient information under several specific situations, including to warn law enforcement about threats of violence. This does not wipe out a single legal protection of privacy. I would suggest reading the HIPPA disclosure which all medical facilities provide to patients. Such statements (including the one used in my office) typically inform patients that information regarding threats of violence can legally be released to law enforcement agencies. If someone told their doctor about a  plan to kill you, or to start shooting in a public school, do you really think the doctor should be forced to keep this information secret?

Misinformation such as this is contributing to the conservative calls to impeach Obama over his executive orders on gun control. Where were these people when Bush and Cheney actually did want to exceed the Constitutional limits on the power of the president?

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Merlin; Benedict Cumberbatch; Person of Interest; Thor; Building the Starship Enterprise

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Doctor Who TV has summarized many of the reports to date on the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who:

The format of the anniversary is still to be confirmed. Steven Moffat originally said: “Why talk in the singular?” Matt Smith also hinted at multiple episodes, but more recent rumours seem to suggest a feature-length outing.

In another interview Moffat said: “I’ve got various plans, but all I can say emphatically is it will be huge. It won’t be just one thing…. We’ll be doing lots of stuff. The plans are quite extensive, and changing all the time. Oh my God, we will hit that year very, very hard indeed.”

Moffat on multi-Doctor stories:

“It’s slightly difficult to do them all now. I’m not against it but I think as a gimmick it outlives its usefulness quite fast. “Doing Time Crash with 8 minutes of Peter [Davidson] and David [Tennant] was about right. If you have a really good story that motors on the fact that this is one man experiencing the same adventure at several different points of his life, that would be worth doing. But you can’t do a special or an episode as a reunion party. That’s not a story, that’s a party. Nothing wrong with parties but they’re not great fun to watch. But with a really good story, then yes.”

And in a later interview: “Possibly…. It’s so far in the future, it’s only a set of notions.”

Neil Gaiman wants The Eleven Doctors:

“The real dream story is the one you cannot do because technology is not there and people have died — It would be The Eleven Doctors,” he explained. They made The Three Doctors. They made The Five Doctors. It’s the 50th Anniversary, you’d make The Eleven Doctors and you’d have William Hartnell in it. The trouble is do you have actors playing these people? Do you have someone doing a Tom Baker? How do you do that? I trust in Moffat enough to think that whatever he’s going to give us, it will be worth it.”

A live episode?

Matt Smith: “It won’t just be a televised event, I think it will be a live event. The way it’s transmitted on TV will hopefully be an inventive thing–something different.”

More in the full post.

The BBC has announced a set of short stories will be written about the eleven Doctors.

The 11 tales, known as “eshorts”, will each be written by a well-known children’s author.

Each story will feature one of the various regenerations of the Doctor, starting with William Hartnell, who played the character from 1963-1966.

A paperback of the stories will be published by Puffin in November.

The first children’s author will be revealed on the BBC Worldwide Doctor Who Facebook page on Monday 7 January, followed by the first story on Wednesday 23 January.

A promotional video of each author will also be available each month on the BBC Worldwide YouTube channel starting on Friday 11 January.

There has been speculation that J.K. Rowling is one of these authors.

Billie Piper discussed the 50th anniversary on the Graham Norton Show (video available here). She denies rumors that she will be appearing: “No. I’ve not been asked. I think Matt Smith said something in passing or in jest like, ‘That would be nice,’ and it became something, but no.”

In an interview last night, David Tennant said he knew nothing about the 50th anniversary plans.

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It seems like Merlin and Downton Abbey just ended, and now they are starting up again in the United States.

TV Addict has an interview with the cast. This selection helps set up the final season:

Is there anything you can share about what’s upcoming in the 5th season?  Maybe just a few teasers?
BRADLEY:  Mordred’s back – I’m not sure what I can tell you without telling you what happens in the show!

We know there’s the 3-year gap.  You can surely talk about what happened during that time period for our heroes?
BRADLEY:  Yes, three years have gone by.  That’s what I can tell you.
KATIE:  I can tell you what happens with Morgana.  For two years of that period, Morgana has been held captive because of her magic and it is a very important storyline for her in season five is that everything she has feared her whole life about being persecuted for having magic has all come true.  She has been persecuted.  She has been tortured.  She’s been kept locked up.  I think that the fact that her fears have actually happened means that she feels vindicated in removing Arthur from power and in taking over because she’s protecting people like herself.

More from the cast at The Los Angeles Times and Blastr.

Parades End

Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be in everything these days. Besides Sherlock, The Hobbit, and Star Trek Into Darkness, Cumberbatch will be staring in Parade’s End, a five part mini-series on HBO in February:

From the reliable comforts of Edwardian England to the chaos and destruction of the First World War, the early 20th century was a defining era in history, a time of unprecedented change, when old certainties were being torn down. The long golden afternoons of the pre-war years would be shattered by the most destructive war the world had ever known, and countless lives would be changed forever.

Set against this backdrop of impending catastrophe is the story of English aristocrat Christopher Tietjens, trapped in a marriage to an unfaithful wife, and caught between his commitment to the values of Toryism and his unspoken love for a fearless young suffragette.

Spanning the glittering, shallow world of London high society, the trench-scarred battlefields of France, and the breathtaking English countryside, the sweeping five-part HBO Miniseries presentation PARADE’S END debuts TUESDAY, FEB. 26 (9:00-11:05 p.m. ET/PT), WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27 (9:00-11:05 p.m.) and THURSDAY, FEB. 28 (9:00-10:00 p.m.), exclusively on HBO. Adapted from Ford Madox Ford’s groundbreaking novels by Sir Tom Stoppard (Oscar®-winner for “Shakespeare in Love”), the drama was directed by Susanna White (HBO’s Emmy®-winning “Generation Kill”).

Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock,” “War Horse”), Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “The Town”) and Adelaide Clemens (“The Great Gatsby”) star in PARADE’S END, a Mammoth Screen production for the BBC in association with HBO Miniseries and Trademark Films and BBC Worldwide and Lookout Point; co-produced with BNP Paribas Fortis Film Fund and Anchorage Entertainment; filmed with the support of the Belgian federal government’s Tax Shelter Scheme. The executive producers areMichele Buck and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Ben Donald for BBC Worldwide, Simon Vaughan for Lookout Point TV, Judith Louis for ARTE France and Tom Stoppard. David Parfitt and Selwyn Roberts produce.

A spoiler-free review can be found here.

Firewall

Person of Interest returned with Reese in custody, but with a four-way complication for the FBI. Here is a portion of a press conference with executive producers Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman, posted prior to Friday’s episode:

Do you ever come up with a storyline and then think, “No, we can’t go that far”?
JONAH:  Every day.  Our writers come up with incredibly bold and great and sometimes subversive and odd pitches.  There’s a heightened aspect to the show.  I talked a lot about THE X-FILES, in developing the pilot, and Greg and I have referred back to it frequently, because it had a great balance between the case-of-the-week and a serialized, larger mythology that they were telling.  But, what they also had was this great dove-tailing connectiveness between the case of the week and that mythology, in the way they interacted with each other.  So, we always want the show to reach out as far as it can, as far as jumping from one unexpected world to the next, but with a common thread that emerges from that and giving the sense of a larger, corrupt, weirder universe around them.  I was a huge fan of James Ellroy’s books, “American Tabloid” being one of them.  There’s a sense that you get from Ellroy’s universe that there are weird machinations at play underneath everything, with his dark gaze on the CIA, on the events of the 1960′s, and on the connection with heroin out of Vietnam.  The darker lens that our show takes, looking towards government surveillance and all those sorts of things, is not all that different from THE X-FILES.  THE X-FILES universe was a very dark one, in the direction of alien conspiracies.  Ours is really about surveillance technologies and the pending odd moment when a number of different entities know more about your life than you do, and I think we’re kind of there.  We keep being interested in the larger universe of that, and what impact that has upon our relationship to our government.
GREG:  A perfect case in point is that one of our writers saw an article about the massive new surveillance program uncovered by the Wall Street Journal, in terms of predictive pattern matching.  It’s a constant steady drumbeat of these types of stories.

Are you going to be returning to the issues with the machine’s growing artificial intelligence?
JONAH:  One of the problems we have with the show is that our incredible writers have come up with so many compelling storylines and villains, at least to me.  From the beginning, one of the ideas with the show was compelling villains.  I love writing villains, and we’ve embraced that.  It was one of the first questions J.J. [Abrams] had about the show because he wanted to have that tapestry of villains.  They’re so fun, in the way that they drive the plot forward.  We have an absolute wealth of them, at this point, with some amazing actors, like Enrico Colantoni, Robert John Burke, Clarke Peters and Amy Acker.  I want to keep exploring, and I know our writers want to keep exploring, all of those different storylines, to the degree that we can and to the degree that the audience is willing to go along for the ride.  We tend to tell our stories in chapters.  Not explicitly because we don’t draw attention to it, but the story keeps a steady simmer going, on some elements.  At this point, the A.I. of it all is poised to erupt back into view.  But, when you have fantastic actors playing great characters, you want to go back and service those storylines again.  None of our villains are ever too far from surfacing, but we like to keep the audience guessing, as to how all these storylines connect together.

For the first time, the characters were following their own divergent interests, even if it was to their own detriment.  Is that something that will continue to happen, in the second half of the season? 
JONAH:  It’s all falling apart.
GREG:  I think it’s fantastic that we have two characters who are largely cognizant of the machine and its capabilities, but more so Finch than Reese, obviously.  Carter and Fusco are a little bit on a need-to-know basis, and the collision that they have encountered, up to this point, has been more on a municipal level, with HR, Quinn and Simmons.  And then, there is the larger nemesis of Root (Amy Acker), who is interested in freeing the machine.  When we last saw her, she got away, but we will hear from her again.  The great part of all these characters is that they come and they coalesce in interesting ways, on our show, and bump up against each other, all in the fine city of New York.  It gives each of our characters their own dilemmas, but they often bump up against each other and need each other’s help.

Thor-Jaime-Alexander-as-Sif

Jaimie Alexander discussed Thor: The Dark World.

“It’s going to be a bit of a darker feel, and obviously a lot more action. We get to explore the different Realms a lot more and you see a lot more Asgard, and you get to know the people of Asgard. We sort of explore the Thor-Sif relationship a little bit. It’s more like getting a feel of who these people are, and the way they are with each other. It was fun for me and fun for Chris. Again, he and I are almost like brother/sister types too, so I was like ‘maybe that translates into ooh they love each other on camera.’ [laughs] We had a good time making that movie.”

Many genre shows have started in the U.K. and later received followings in the United States. It sounds like Utopia might be a new show worth watching for.

Last month their was the petition to the White House to build the Death Star. Now there is a petition to build the Starship Enterprise:

An engineer is petitioning the White House to study the possibility of building a real-life starship Enterprise like the fictional vessel in television’s “Star Trek.”

The proposal was submitted through the White House’s official “We the People” channel, which promises an administration response to any petition that gathers at least 25,000 signatures. Just last month, a petition to build a Death Star like the spherical spaceship in the movie “Star Wars” garnered that critical mass, and is currently awaiting its official response.

The Enterprise proposal comes from an engineer who goes by the name BTE Dan, who detailed plans for constructing a life-size, flyable starship Enterprise on his website last year.

“We have within our technological reach the ability to build the 1st generation of the USS Enterprise,” BTE Dan wrote in the petition, viewable here.

As of this writing, the petition had 3,335 signatures, with more than 21,000 to go.

The project, BTE Dan maintains, wouldn’t be a vanity exercise, but rather a practical step forward for space exploration. [The Top 10 Star Trek Technologies]

“It ends up that this ship’s inspiring form is quite functional,” he wrote. “This will be Earth’s first gigawatt-class interplanetary spaceship with artificial gravity. The ship can serve as a spaceship, space station, and space port all in one. In total, one thousand crew members & visitors can be on board at once.”

Make it so.

There Really Is A War On Christmas

While the American right wing and Fox are whining about nonsense in the United State (appealing to the need of conservatives to feel like a victim) it turns out there really is a war on Christmas–in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.

The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country’s strict religious code.

The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians, as well as two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims. The host and the two Muslims were said to be “severely intoxicated.”

The guests were said to have been referred to the “respective authorities.” It is unclear whether or not they have been released since.

The kingdom, which only recognizes Islamic faith and practice, has in the past banned public Christmas celebrations, but is ambiguous about festivities staged in private quarters.

Saudi religious police are known to detain residents of the kingdom at whim, citing loose interpretations of Sharia and public statements by hardline religious leaders to justify crackdowns.

Saudi Arabia’s head mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah had previously condemned “invitations to Christmas or wedding celebrations.”

Person of the Year: Barack Obama

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This was a rather obvious choice in an election year. As Time points out, Obama is “the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice. Only five other Presidents have done that in all of U.S. history.” Time‘s explanation:

There are many reasons for this, but the biggest by far are the nation’s changing demographics and Obama’s unique ability to capitalize on them. When his name is on the ballot, the next America — a younger, more diverse America — turns out at the polls. In 2008, blacks voted at the same rate as whites for the first time in history, and Latinos broke turnout records. The early numbers suggest that both groups did it again in 2012, even in nonbattleground states, where the Obama forces were far less organized. When minorities vote, that means young people do too, because the next America is far more diverse than the last. And when all that happens, Obama wins. He got 71% of Latinos, 93% of blacks, 73% of Asians and 60% of those under 30.

They left out the more important fact that Obama ran against a Republican Party which has moved to the extreme right and very well might never again be able to win a national election until the party changes. (Some Republican apologists might counter by claims that John McCain and Mitt Romney are moderates but in reality both ran on platforms which were bat-shit crazy, even if the Republicans do have even worse lunatics among their ranks.)
Time’s interview with Obama gives indications we are living in a world which the authoritarian right just cannot handle. Obama took time to announce his support for gay marriage, but we may have reached a tipping point where any candidate who does not support marriage equality would be seen in the same light as someone who didn’t support interracial marriage. Obama is more conservative than many of his supporters on drugs, and it is a disappointment that he is not ending the drug war, but at least does not intend to use government resources for prosecution of marijuana users:

I have a couple of policy questions growing out of that shift. Do you expect your administration will join the gay marriage cases at the Supreme Court?

We are looking at the cases right now. I’ve already been very clear about DOMA, so there is no doubt that we would continue the position we’re on, that DOMA is unconstitutional and should be struck down. And I think the Prop-8 case, because the briefs are still being written, I should probably be careful about making any specific comments on it.

One of the other big things that happened in the election was in Washington State and Colorado, marijuana for recreational use was legalized. And, again, the same base — the younger people, more progressive people are in favor of that. Is a recreational marijuana user who is following state law someone who should be a federal law enforcement priority?

No. And I think what the Justice Department has consistently asserted is that it’s got finite resources. Our focus has to be on threats to safety, threats to property. When it comes to drug enforcement, big-time drug dealers, folks who are preying on our kids, those who are engaging in violence — that has to be our focus.

Now, obviously, you’ve got a challenge, which is federal laws that are still on the books making marijuana a Class I drug that is subject to significant penalties, and you’ve got state laws now that say it’s legal. We’re going to have to have a conversation about how to reconcile that, because it puts the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorneys in a pretty tough position; they don’t want to look like they’re nullifying laws that are on the books; their job is to carry out the laws of the federal government. On the other hand, I think not only have these states indicated that they’ve got a different view, but what’s also true isthat the public as a whole — even those who don’t necessarily agree with decriminalization of marijuana — don’t think that this should be a top priority for law enforcement.

So this will be something that we navigate over the next several months and next several years. I think that the broader lesson to draw here is that substance abuse is a big problem in oursociety, and we should be doing everything we can to prevent our kids from being trapped by substance abuse. I think a law enforcement model alone, or an emphasis on a law enforcement strategy and not enough emphasis on the public health approach and treatment has not yielded the kind of results that I think we would like. And we’re going to have to have a serious discussion about that.

There are many pictures worth viewing accompanying the articles:
Obama Clinton
Obama Spiderman
Obama from Behind
Obama Chicago
obama white house
Obama Families 911 Victims
Obama Bo
Obama 3D Glasses

SciFi Weekend: Larry Hagman Dies; Chevy Chase Leaves Community; Fringe; Revolution; When’s The Doctor?

The story which must lead over any other entertainment stories this week is the death of Larry Hagman. He is best known for the part of J.R. Ewing. In 1980 Dallas received a remarkable amount of publicity with a cliffhanger in which J.R. was shot (and recovered). The episode which resolved the mystery remains the second highest rated television episode of all time, and with increased fragmentation of the television audience in the age of cable, Dallas might hold onto this position.

Larry Hagman got to reprise the role of J.R. Ewing on a remake of Dallas which began last summer on TNT. Younger stars dominated the series (sometimes making the series feel too much as if it were Dallas 90210), but the presence of Hagman got the series off the ground. J.R. Ewing slipped into the background during part of the first season to open the way for the next generation, including Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing III and Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher Ewing, to battle each other. Hagman had filmed six of fifteen episodes of the second season, which begins on January 28. There is no doubt that the show will be rewritten to take J.R.’s death into account. A storyline about the death of J.R. Ewing in March is bound to be a ratings success.

This is not the first time that Dallas has had to deal with the loss of a major character, with Jim Davis (Joch Ewing) dying and Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing) leaving the series for health reasons. (Donna Reed also played Miss Ellie for one year, with Bel Geddes subsequently returning for an additional season). Bobby Ewing died in the eighth-season cliffhanger, with Bobby returning in Pamela’s shower at the start of season ten, making all of season nine a dream.

While J.R. Ewing could never be replaced, the remake of Dallas does feature other characters from the original series, with Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing) having regular roles. Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs) and Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) have had recurring appearances. Joan Van Ark and Ted Shackelford are returning as Valene and Gary Ewing, roles which were primarily seen in the Dallas spinoff Knots Landing.

Hagman had many other roles, including some which could be classified as genre. The most notable of his other roles was as Major Anthony Nelson, an astronaut who was the owner of a 2000 year-old super being on I Dream of Jeannie. Other genre connections include a role in the first Superman movie and directing a low-budget sequel to The Blob, called Beware! The Blob.

Reactions from many who have worked with Hagman can be found here.

Community will also have to deal with the loss of a leading character. Chevy Chase (Pierce Hawthorne) left the show late in the filming of the fourth season. It was an abrupt departure so it is not known how it will be dealt with on the show. There might not be any need for an explanation unless the series makes it to s fifth season. The episodes were being filmed out of order with Chase present in the finale.

Chevy Chase had highly publicized conflicts with former show runner Dan Harmon, and his problems with the show were obviously not resolved after Harmon was fired. Chase’s character also often had a rocky relationship with other members of his study group, and the remainder of the ensemble cast could easily carry on without him should the show get renewed for a fifth season. #sixseasonsandamovie.

Fringe wrote a character, Peter Bishop, out of existence and brought him back during the fourth season. This was not one of the better arcs on the series. Show runner Joel Wyman agrees that this “didn’t work.”

“I get so much support from the media and from fans [and] I can’t be upset if they don’t like [something],” Wyman explained.

“Like the whole [season four] disappearance of Peter, I learned a great deal from that. It didn’t work. People didn’t like it and felt it was sort of stupid and didn’t get it.”

Wyman admitted that he now “totally” agrees with fan criticisms of the plot, adding: “I look back at it and consider it one of our missteps.”

“It didn’t work as well as we all thought it would,” he confessed. “We liked it and thought it was cool. But no matter how many times we told people, ‘No, Peter is still part of the show…’ everybody was saying, ‘Peter is not on the show so I’m not watching anymore!’ They didn’t get it.”

Revolution had a great scene last week in which Rachel made sure that she will still be needed by Monroe. She did kill a former coworker, but on the other hand he did betray Rachel in telling Monroe that it was a bomb which she was building. In the mid-season finale, all the major characters will be reunited in Philadelphia. TVLine interviewed co-executive producer David Rambo about the mid-season finale. He said that, “The finale will answer some questions, but it will pose even more because it is a really good cliffhanger. One of the big things that will be revealed actually, I believe, is what Monroe’s plans really are.” The second half of the season might also show what is occurring in the other republics.

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You might ask Where’s Waldo, but the question with the Doctor is not where but when. Flick Filosopher presented some pictures from this Gallifreyan Where’s Waldo?