29 Nov 2013

Sherlock Lives In 2014

Well, I missed it by that much. When the BBC released the most recent and brief trailer for series 3 of Sherlock, I guessed that the episodes would air on Saturday nights starting on Dec 28th. Turns out, I was off by a day of the week, and only four days off the premiere.

The BBC has confirmed that Sherlock series 3 will premiere on Wednesday, 1 January, 2014 with Mark Gatiss' The Empty Hearse. Following that on Sunday 5 January will be Steve Thompson's The Sign of Three, and conclude on Sunday 12 January with Steven Moffat's His Last Vow, featuring Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Hannibal's Mads) as the villainous Charles Augustus Magnussen, an update on Doyle's blackmailer Milverton.

So, now all we have to do is wait...

I'm tired of waiting, let's play Cluedo!

Via Den of Geek.

Illegal Immigrants Of The Really Old West

You know what I love about dinosaurs? Besides, literally everything about them, I mean. We have no idea how many there were, and in all likelihood, we never will. Fossilisation isn't like getting frozen in carbonite, and over the millions of years between us and them, many will have simply been ground into dust and lost to time. There are estimates that suggest we've discovered less than half of the total potential number of dinosaurs that once roamed the planet.

And because we've discovered less than half, new discoveries are being made all the time, like the fellow up top. Say hello to the newest (it's a relative term) member of the carcharodontosaurs, the Siats meekerorum. This theropod, which measured 9 metres long and weighted 4 tonnes, lived 100 million years ago in modern Utah (which was also the stomping ground - literally - of the last major discovery, though a few millions years later).

According to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' Dr Lindsay Zann, the lead author on the paper describing Siats, the animal is an important find because it dates from a 30 million year blind spot in the fossil record, where the apex predators in the ancient environment shifted from the carcharodontosaurs to the tyrannosaurs. Why this shifted occurred is still a mystery. Siats is also important because it is the first of the carcharodontosaurs to be discovered in North America (the genius is one of the many examples of the giants of Gondwana).

While the description of Lythronax argestes earlier this month seemed to support the idea of an isolated Laramidia, Siats placement in this area suggests otherwise, and that for a time at least, migration from the south into what is now the American southwest was possible.

Via Geekologie.

[How To] - Make Doctor Who Clue

[This is the part of a month long series of articles, lists and other features celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.]

I think, by now, my love of Doctor Who is well established. And, on occasion, I've mentioned how fond I am of the board game Cluedo, or Clue. To celebrate the 50th anniversary in my own way, I've put together my own Doctor Who themed Clue game, which I've punnily named Doctor Clue. They seem like a natural fit, but Clue is the least likely game to be licensed (Monopoly, however, seems to be the town bicycle, the way it gets around).

Please note: none of the images I've used to put this together are mine. The image I've used for the box art (seen above) was made by the talented Andy Lambert, and I've left his credit visible. The rest of the images were taken from the BBC website, or from screen grabs of episodes of the series. This is a fan project, meant for my own personal use. I'm sharing my designs with the internet, but not making any profit off of this. I won't be producing any copies, or dispensing this product in any way (this isn't Etsy). I am not affiliated with, nor do I have permission from, the BBC to use the copyrighted materials associated with Doctor Who. Again, I am a fan, expressing his admiration for the long running series. All of this is my way of asking not to sue.

Hit the jump for the board, the cards and the rules.

28 Nov 2013

Even Hitler Cared About Germany

Before he was "invited" back to Community for what will inevitably be its last season, Dan Harmon pitched and sold an animated series to Adult Swim. Based on a series shorts created by Justin Roiland for Harmon's Channel 10, Rick and Morty is a demented reimagining of Back to the Future. And Adult Swim has put the entire pilot on the internet, ahead of it's official premiere next year. The animation has an American Dad meets Adventure Time feel to it, and the voice cast includes Chris Parnell and Sarah Chalke, as Morty's parents.

And it is... bizarre. To say the least.

Via Uproxx.

The Boxtrolls Is Now My Most Anticipated Movie Of 2014

You know the difference between something that looks good, and looks lovely? This trailer should clear up that distinction.

[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 9, "Repairs"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions
I think we've established that SHIELD's greatest contribution to the larger MCU will be: a testing ground. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, when they introduced Scorch, it seemed like a backdoor way to introduce the concept of mutants into the MCU, without ever actually using that word. Likewise, this week, they played with the notion of ghosts, the afterlife and other physical plains, material that will no doubt be relevant once Doctor Strange comes up on the production schedule.

And that's one of SHIELD's reasons for being. Because it's week to week, they can play with all these different ideas. Something doesn't work, move on and never mention it again. Meanwhile, Kevin Fiege can take note of what makes sense, what the fans respond to, and craft the films to match those results. And then, across the board, everything works together in a cohesive MCU.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have never screamed like a little girl at their own prank. They scream like a manly-man.

27 Nov 2013

Hampster In SPAAACE(ish)

Carl Sagan once famously said that we are all made of star stuff. And that's true: the elements that make up all matter in the universe are forged in the hearts of stars, waiting until they explode, which sends them flying out into the greater space, seeding the void with the building blocks of literally everything. But in a far more literal way, we are made of not-quite-star-stuff.

Briefly and vaguely, here's how it happens. All stars start off as clouds of gas. Nebula are both the end and the beginning of stars. This gas will sit in a sterile stellar nursery until something (usually the addition of unexpected mass) precipitates a gravitational collapse, causing the cloud to coalesce into a dense core. This will steadily feed off the surrounding food supply of elements, gaining mass and gravity until the pressure in the core becomes great enough to cause fusion to occur. Then boom, you've got a star.

But there are left overs. Materials that the star was feeding on, but didn't use before it ignited. These accretion discs spiral around, falling into the star like a slightly clogged sink slowly draining. But as these flat discs of dust spiral around, the particulate rub together, generating static electricity. And as anyone who has ever dried socks knows, electrostatic energy causes things to attract. So, the dust will clump together in larger and larger chunks until, like the stars themselves, they form enough mass to exert a gravitational force on the surrounding materials. This gravity well brings everything together, until a planet is formed, or asteroid, or other smaller body. Might be a solid rock, might be a ball of gas. Point is, that unused materials form solar systems, and thanks to the good works being done by the Kepler project, we're learning that this process is far more common and produces more results then we ever expected.

And while all of that is fascinating, somehow it isn't as fun as explaining it with a weightless Richard Hammond and coffee grounds.

Via the Bad Astronomer.

Why It's Awesome To Be A Nerd

Leave it to Wil Wheaton to deliver what is perhaps the best definition of a nerd I've heard. And I know there is some debate amongst the so-inclined as to whether "geek" or "nerd" is the preferred term (I've always prefered geek myself), but I think this applies equally to both. It helps that it's a honest and genuine answer.

And made all the more poignant by the fact that he's wearing a Doctor Who scarf while saying all this.

The Day After The Doctor

Considering how Who-heavy the last month has been, I decided to take a bit of a break from posting Doctor Who related content. And that decision lasted almost one whole day, as the BBC inexplicably decided to stagger the 50th anniversary and the announcement of the Christmas special. We got the trailer on Saturday just fine, but apparently it was too much to tack the name on to the end of that, eh?

So, come the 25th, Matt Smith will exit the series as the Eleventh (or Twelfth, depending on how that all works out) Doctor, and see Peter Capaldi take the reigns in The Time of the Doctor. Not to knock it, but that will make three episodes in a row that end their titles in "Of The Doctor": The Name, The Day and The Time. Either Moffat is going so something of a narrative trilogy with these episodes, or he's getting lazy with his episode names.

The trailer includes shots of Silence, Weeping Angels and Cybermen, and this poster continues that, with a beaten up Cyber-head, and the Silence looming in the distance. Also, Clara has a Christmas cracker. But she already has the paper crown on? What is this, some sort of reverse timey-wimey cracker? This insanity will not stand!

Also, it just occured to me that if Capaldi's first episode isn't called Twelfth Night, I'll be a little disappointed.

Via Den of Geek.

26 Nov 2013

The Week Of Living Stoically

A team from the University of Exeter are challenging you to live as some Romans did, and embrace stoicism for one week. Stoicism is the recognition that there are elements in nature beyond our control, and by embracing virtue and reason, and eliminating the rash judgements that lead to emotional reactions, achieving happiness. While it's too late to register for the research portion of this experiment, that doesn't mean you can't take part on your own. The researchers are urging those who partake to keep journals of their experiences, to explain their decision making processes and how their reactions can become much more rationalised and effective.

This may seem a little cold, and that is certainly the reputation stoicism has earned over the centuries, but the analytical elements of the stoic philosophy are a corner stone of the modern therapeutic method. Self study of behaviour, identifying weaknesses and bettering ones self through purging of destruction or harmful habits is literally what the Age of Self-Improvement is all about. The Exeter team posits that, while this is all well and good, it's maximum effectiveness is undercut by a culture of touch-feeling over sharing (technical term, that). And with the rise of social media, a person's self image is increasingly dependent on constant validation (or at least, acknowledgement) from others. "Here is a picture of some food I will be eating, do you like this?"


As funny as Ron Swanson may be, he's actually an excellent example of how to live a stoic life. He's pretty much the ideal of the philosophy. His emotionality is limited. His reasoning is based on logic, survival and self fulfilment. He doesn't stand for frivolity. And he's at his most compromised when those things are taken away (by Tammy. Either one). The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness is a guide to stoic achievement.

Personally, I've never been an overly emotional person. Or, an emotional person. Or a person, really. My involvement with the human race has always been predicated more on a technicality than any actual kinship. But I liked to think that my actions and reactions are based on an understanding of myself and my environment, and that no matter how frustrating or ridiculous the world gets around me, I have limited control over that, and can at best remove myself from it's influence.

It's a hell of a lot easier than screaming into a pillow.

Via The Globe and Mail.

So, When We Go To Mars, We're Going To The Lush Happy Looking One, Right?

This is a simulation of the 4 billion year evolution of Mars, from wet and lively planet to the desolate wasteland of today. The video was put together by NASA's Conceptual Image Lab. It's nice, except there isn't a time tracker to let the viewer know how long this process is taking. Since it clearly states that it starts 4 billion years ago, it seems as though the whole thing happened over a really bad weekend.

And part of me likes to think of the video as the Wrath of Khan Genesis video in reverse.

Via Geekologie.

"The Protein Shake" Has Officially Been Added To The List Of Acceptable Euphemisms

Atlantis wasn't on over the weekend because something else was clogging up the timeslot, so there's no new review today. And it seems as though the Americans have started taking their Thanksgiving break a little early, because things have been a little dry thus far this week in terms of news. So don't expect today's posts to be overly substantive. Case in point, this commerical which was apparently banned because it shows a progression of men not wanking.

Every time I think my tastes have become refined and cultured, I see something like this and am reduced to a giggle fit.

All joking aside, based on sheer quality, I'd take one Doctor Who episode a year the calibre of Day of the Doctor over an ongoing entire series of Atlantis.

Via Uproxx.

25 Nov 2013

This Is Christmas

If we weren't spoiled enough by the 50th special, and by Peter Davison's superior-in-a-different-sort-of-way tribute to the series, after all was said and done with Doctor Who's celebrations, it reminded us, if only briefly, that it's not going anywhere. In almost exactly a month it will return, and Matt Smith will depart the series. From the short look, it seems as though Moffat might be in mind to wrapping up some of the many plot threads he's left dangling the last three series, as the Doctor makes his way back to Trenzalore.

And if that weren't enough, we also got another trailer for series 3 of Sherlock. Still no definitive word on a broadcast date in the UK, but I was right about them putting something with Day of the Doctor, so I'm putting money on my being right about a Christmas or Christmas-adjacent premiere date. Again, only a brief look, but long enough to let us know that Sherlock's survival doesn't remain a secret for very long.

You can see that preview after the jump.

[Review] - An Adventure In Space And Time

[This is the part of a month long series of articles, lists and other features celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.]

Courtesy of the BBC

If there was any doubt about my assertion that Mark Gatiss is the most logical choice to take over running Doctor Who when Steven Moffat steps down, those doubts should now be extinguished. An Adventure in Space and Time is an emotionally drenched retelling of the events surrounding the origins of the series, awash with reverence and nostalgia, but without ever letting it take away from the core storyline. And while it certainly adheres to the concept of "there is a difference between truth and accuracy," it is hard not to accept Gatiss' version of events as anything other than right. Things this important, that last this long, should have epic origins. It should mean something. And the way this story tells it, it means tears. Lots and lots of tears.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that wish they were in colour.

The Five(ish) Doctors

Listen, as brilliant as Day of the Doctor may have been, it doesn't hold a candle to this. Peter Davison (aka The Fifth Doctor) has shown his hand in the most marvellous way possible. There isn't a second of this that isn't delightful, and I really hope it finds it's way onto the 50th DVD, or that the BBC puts out a 50th special collection, with this front and centre.

Last week I asked why Doctor Who has lasted for 50 years, and this is part of the answer. Because as much as the fans love the show, the actors and writers and everyone involved love it just as much. Possibly more.

And if that last bit really is true, then my opinion of the 50th special just increased even more.

[Review] - The Day Of The Doctor

[This is the part of a month long series of articles, lists and other features celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.]

Courtesy of the BBC
Considering the way things have been going the last series or so, I was concerned. I was genuinely worried about the 50th. That, in an effort to try to be all things, it would collapse under the weight of it's own hubris. That it would be little more than an hour and change of winking at the camera. Or that John Hurt's mysterious Doctor-Who-Isn't would be too ridiculous a concept to swallow. And I couldn't be happier that I was wrong.

Steven Moffat really did something special here. He did everything just right, and has produced easily his best personal episode since The Eleventh Hour. An episode that managed to be all things at once: a quality episode in and of itself, but also managed to incorporate element after element from the fifty years of the show in a cohesive way that never felt winking or over bearing (and might have provided an explanation for The Face of Evil). An episode that even a novice could sit down and watch and not be nearly as lost as I might have imagined they would be. It was honestly, genuinely good, and that's all I ever hoped for.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that would make a great Curator.

22 Nov 2013

And Now For Something Completely Revisited

At a press conference yesterday, the surviving members of Monty Python announced that they would be reuniting for a one-off show at London's O2 arena on July 1st of 2014. The show, called Monty Python Live (mostly), will be directed by Eric Idle, and according to him feature "comedy, pathos, music and a tiny piece of ancient sex." Tickets will go on sale on November 25th, and are expected to be impossible to get shortly after that.

The entire announcement was met with the Python's usual manner of irreverency (the lot of them seems to agree they were all doing it for the money) and apparent dislike of the intended audience, actual bits of information did leak out between the jabs. While the show won't feature new material, it will feature previously unperformed material, as well as modern versions of their greatest hits. Said John Cleese, "the main danger we have is that the audience know the scripts better than we do."

Cleese also mentioned that, while the show is intended to be a single performance, which they will broadcast live and release on DVD afterwards, they are leaving the door open for a possible tour, schedules permitting. And while Graham Chapman leaves a sizable hole of talent in their ranks, I'm sure the group will only draw attention to the fact with their usual decorum and dignity.

Via the BBC.

The World's Gags

The World's End was one of the few highlights for me, to an otherwise dreary summer movie season. Now that's it out on DVD, we can be treated to the gag reel, which are my mother's favourite part of any film. Seriously, it's the only question she asks when it comes to DVD releases. "Is there bloopers?"
"I think you mean 'are there bloopers' mom."
"Don't talk back to me"
*Audible smack, followed by long drag off an unfiltered cigerette and a shot of whisky*

I'm probably going to get a phone call about this post.

After the jump, you can see the second part of the gags.

[Opinion] - Why Has Doctor Who Lasted 50 Years

[This is the part of a month long series of articles, lists and other features celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.]

"I can't imagine what'll happen to Doctor Who in the next 50 years. I would say that I'm absolutely confident that it'll still be around. Heaven knows in what form, heaven knows there will be interruptions at some point. There's no evidence of that right now... It's a massive thing. If letting it die in public sight and leaving it off the air for 15 or 16 years didn't work, what the hell's going to work? It's indestructible."
That's current showrunner Steven Moffat talking about the resiliency of Doctor Who, and he's not wrong. It's no small thing to have lasted fifty years. Bond has done it. The Rolling Stones, against all odds, have done it. And Star Trek looks poised to do so in a few years. But why did Doctor Who? How did a shoddy looking children's educational programme manage to stick around for half a century, and in the process garner enough influence and appreciation that London is effectively shutting down to celebrate it, that Google has created a cracking little 8-bit game to commemorate it, and that despite being cancelled, it managed to return after 16 years stronger than ever?

Can the show be boiled down into bullet points, to syphon out the magic elements that set this show aside from so many others that have come and gone. If Doctor Who were a person, they'd be nearly able to draw their pension. Actual people have lived their entire lives exclusively in a world where Doctor Who exists. What is it about this show that makes it apparently impervious to time and entropy? Can such a thing even be determined?

After the jump, I'll try my best to find out.

21 Nov 2013

The (Next To) Last Day

50th Mini epsode The Last Day by culttvstuff

Russell T. Davies, who originated the idea of the Time War as a way of removing the Time Lords from Doctor Who, was never one to lay down specific details about the war itself. The most that was know were snatches of unelaborated information that sounds really cool, like the Nightmare Child at the Gates of Elysium, the Cruciform, or the Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres. By the end of Davies' time on the show, the most viewers had seen of the War itself was the attempted salvation of Gallifrey in the closing hours of the war.

Day of the Doctor seems fit to remedy that, by taking us into the last days of the war at least. Billie Piper warns that "the moment is coming," with "the moment" coming into the Doctor's possession being one of the events that made the Time Lords so desperate at the end. The latest short (and last, until Saturday), made available on iTune yesterday and because it's the internet, the internet today, seems to be the moment when the war turned. Called The Last Day, it concerns the previously mentioned Fall of Arcadia, now identified as a city on Gallifrey, and apparently the last defence of the Time Lords.

Since this might be my last chance before Saturday, I don't know what surprises Moffat has waiting for us in the 50th, but I suspect there will be more than a few, considering Eight's sudden appearance last week. And if one of those surprises happens to be a loop hole that makes it possible for the Time Lords to return in some form, I won't be upset with that. The Time Lords get a lot of bad press, but I'm a fan, and while as a writer I understand the dramatic and narrative need for them to have been destroyed, the fan part of me wants the weird robes and terrible hats back. 

Via The Mary Sue.

Lake Bell And Simon Pegg Intend To Remain Funny

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've got something of a screen crush on Lake Bell. And why not? She's funny, talented and is on a roll of late. It's been announced that once she finishes with The Coup with Pierce Brosnan, she'll be joining another pair of Brits for her next role, the lead in Man Up.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've got something of a screen crush on Simon Pegg. And why not? He's immensely talented, unabashedly geeky and has a wonderful moustache. He and his producing partner Nira Park have put together Man Up from writer Tess Morris, the story of "a single woman who is on her way to her parents’ anniversary celebration when she’s mistaken for a stranger’s blind date. This mix-up somehow leads to her finding the perfect boyfriend." While that sounds like the standard rom-com tripe, that the film is coming from and will co-star Pegg, and will be directed by Inbetweeners director Ben Palmer suggests that it will have more of an edge to it. One more deserving of Bell's talents.

I, for one, am happy to see Bell being given lead roles now that In A World... has demonstrated her range of abilities. While she had long found success on television, it was too unfair to see her trapped in cinematic supporting roles as best friends and bridesmaids in otherwise unwatchable crap. Her quality in the roles does not excuse the fact that I've sat through two Ashton Kutcher movies to see her work.

Via /Film.

[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 8, "The Well"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions.
Is anyone else suddenly wondering if The Winter Soldier's change to an April release date might have had something to do with the synergy from a cross over between it and Agents of SHIELD? From the looks of the trailer, SHIELD gets it in a bad way in that film, which would have a profound affect on Coulson and his team. Just a thought...

This episode, incorrectly labelled as a cross over with Thor: The Dark World, is everything I feel people were expecting SHIELD to be from day one. I feel vindicated in telling people to wait it out, it's building towards something, but another part of me feels that the cohesiveness and the dynamics of the episode could have been present from episode two. I'm very glad that it has gotten here, and hopes that it keeps things at this level. This was a solid episode, in many ways, and is a clear expression of what this show can be when operating at peak efficiency.

Hit the jump for the review, which includes spoilers that remember the first time they felt hate.

20 Nov 2013

It Sounds Worse Than It Is

Finally, a proper full trailer for Muppets Most Wanted, which I correctly guested would be attached to Frozen, out this weekend. While the trailer might give too much of the plot away (we'll have to wait until March to know for sure), at least it looks great. The sort of hijinks and genre-spoofing you'd expect, but best of all this trailer makes it pretty clear that the Muppets are the stars. Last time around, it was very much a Jason Segel movie, that co-starred the Muppets. This trailer, quiet rightly, sees the focus shift where it belongs: on the gang. March can't get here soon enough.

And how excellent is it to see the Newsman again?

The Day Approaches

Saturday is nearly here, and soon, all the anticipation of the 50th anniversary will devolve into nitpicking it's every aspect. As I noted earlier this week, a 3 minute short mentioned on the DVD specs has come to surface, as a purchasable feature on iTunes. The short, called The Last Day, concerns a battle on Gallifrey, taking the viewer into the Time War that will presumably end in the 50th special.

Elsewhere, proactive fan Theodore Stone has set up a petition (because those always work) asking that Steven Moffat and Paul McGann (probably should have made it for the BBC, mate) create an Eighth Doctor spinoff, based on the recent and terrific Night of the Doctor. The petition reads as follows:
"For 17 years, we only had the TV Movie to satisfy our appetite for a Live-Action Eighth Doctor. On the 14th November 2013, we were granted the minisode, the "Night of the Doctor". Although we do possess a vast number of Big Finish Audio-Dramas and books, it would be a shame to never see McGann as the Time Lord on-screen again. Therefore, I have created this petition in order to drum up interest and support in order to pressure both Moffat and McGann into making a live-action series, featuring the Eighth Doctor. It would be a shame for such a fantastic actor and Doctor to be once again confined to the past yet again. Even a web series would suffice!"
Obviously, the BBC has tried Doctor Who spinoffs before (K-9 and Company, Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood) with various degrees of success, though as much as I would like to see an Eighth Doctor series (and I really really would), I doubt the Beeb would put on two series both centred on the Doctor, especially considering that we know how it all ends. A web series of shorts seems all the more likely, or perhaps some DVD exclusives or direct to market features. Wouldn't it be lovely if the Eighth Doctor's legacy on screen was a series of stand alone films? There is more than enough room in the now semi-canonal timeline of the Big Finish dramas for the Doctor to get up to some stuff.

Finally, in anticipation of the tomorrow's An Adventure In Space And Time, the BBC has released some new footage, seen above, which summarises the original intent of the programme pretty well.

[Review] - Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure

It's always nice to hear intelligent people speak on absurd topics, and Eddie Izzard is pretty much the king of that particular mountain. While the pseudo-titles - the lost Python, action transvestite, Jeff -  are liberally applied, the long and the short of it is, here is a man at the peak of his game, at the top of his field, speaking to sell out arena audiences about deep, philosophical ideas and the occasional lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and God. In French.

With his intentions to run for Lord Mayor of London in 2020, Force Majeure maybe be one of the last comedy tours he makes for some time, and happily he has marked this occasion by not at all changing. Hit the jump for the (very) brief review, which has a coat rack on it's head, and it's hunky-dory.

19 Nov 2013

You Need How Many Sandwiches?

True story: the first two food stuffs I learned how to make were grilled cheese sandwiches, and scrambled eggs. And while I would eventually eat myself sick of scrambled eggs, and take 25 years to get back to a psychological place of comfort so that I could eat them again, the grilled cheese has always been there. A warm, gooey, buttery friend to get me through all the dark places of my life. It is the least that I can do, to pass along this instruction on how to make grilled cheese en masse.

I can't believe I've went this long without knowing how to do this. It would even work on my own personal recipe, which I pass along to you:

Per Sandwich
Three slices bread, any kind (I generally use a light rye)
1/3 cup cheese, shredded (I use a blend of Mozzarella, Swiss and Monterey Jack for maximum gooeyness) 
As many strips of bacon as you damned well want, cooked
1/4 cup ground beef, cooked

Prepare two slices of bread as you would with a conventional sandwich. On the pan side of one slice of buttered bread, sprinkle ground beef. Cover with cheese, either blended or separated for a flavour dichotomy. Warm skillet. Toast third, unbuttered slice of bread in toast at light setting (just enough to give it colour and heat). Place beef slice in pan, butter side down. Place toasted slice on top. On this, place more cheese, top with bacon, and third slice of bread. Compress sandwich with spatula. When bottom cheese has melted and fully engulfed the beef, flip (carefully). Continue to cook until cheese is melted and bread is coloured to liking.

Via Guyism.

Everything Seemed To Be Going So Well

I'm a fan of Stanley Tucci. I'm a fan of Alice Eve. I'm more of a fan of each of them when they appear in films worth watching rather than the Hunger Games or Into Darkness. I'm a fan of films that have an isolated environment (like Carnage). I'm a fan of films with small, focused casts (like The Big Kahuna). And I'm a fan of slow burn character studies (like It's A Disaster).

All of that is my way of saying, I get the feeling that I'm really going to like Some Velvet Morning.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 8, "The Furies"

Courtesy of the BBC
You had your chance, Atlantis. You had your the means and opportunity to shrug off the last uneven weight of your program, and make the rest of the show and characters better for the loss. And instead, you went with... well, a lot of other stuff, in what ultimately turned out to be a Shaggy Dog story. And for what? To give your least defined character some backstory, three quarters of the way through your first year? And still failed to make him a sympathetic or likable, or important character?

Bad form, Atlantis. Bad form.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that liked Pythagoras' brother more than they ever have Pythagoras, and the brother was a selfish twit.

18 Nov 2013

Children In Need? Call A Doctor

If you look at the DVD specs for the release of the Day of the Doctor in December, you can see that the disc will include three episodes: one 75 minutes long (the main feature), one 6 minutes long (the fantastic Night of the Doctor) and one 3 minutes long. This... is not that yet to be released episode. This is simply a clip from the main event, released for Children In Need over the weekend, which shows us how Ten and Eleven get together. Sonic measuring contest to commence shortly there after, I would think.

As to what that three minute episode will be, I haven't the foggiest. Could be a prequel short waiting for release later this week, could be a short followup to be released next week. Could be a DVD exclusive, like those shorts on the series 6 DVDs. We'll have to wait and see.

After the jump, Strax delivers his field report on Elizabeth I, who plays into the story of missing painted figures (which I swear was the plot to an Eighth Doctor novel), Zygons and the Time War. Somehow...

The Oliver Show With John Not Stewart

Courtesy of Comedy Central

I knew this was going to happen. I've been saying it for a long time now, and this summer only made it more obvious: if Jon Stewart and Comedy Central didn't find a more permanent position in the Daily Show family (as they did with Stephen Colbert) for John Oliver, they were going to loose him. And so they have.

Oliver will be leaving the Daily Show to host his own weekly "satirical look at the week in news, politics and current events," on HBO starting in 2014. And unlike basic cable, on HBO he'll be able to cuss without it getting bleeped. Said Oliver,
"I’m incredibly excited to be joining HBO, especially as I presume this means I get free HBO now. I want to thank Comedy Central, and everyone at The Daily Show for the best seven and a half years of my life. But most of all, I’d like to thank Jon Stewart. He taught me everything I know. In fact, if I fail in the future, it’s entirely his fault."
Really, Oliver's future success was only guaranteed away from Comedy Central. He was an excellent choice to replace Stewart over the summer, and is clearly the obvious choice for Stewart's successor. The problem is, Stewart isn't showing any signs of going anywhere. He still clearly loves his job, he's one of the highest paid hosts on television, and his show is the number one show in it's timeslot, by a wide margin. If Oliver had waited for him, he would have turned into Prince Charles, constantly waiting for something he might only get to do for a week before he himself falls to the ills of time. And there isn't really an organic place, or need, in Comedy Central's schedule for another Daily Show-type show. And, with no offence to either party, Oliver isn't Sam Bee or Jason Jones, who can comfortably spend the rest of their careers playing correspondent. That is their strength. Oliver, like Colbert before him, is a different sort of beast entirely.

What will be interesting to see is if there is a place in the as-of-yet unnamed HBO series for former Daily Show contributor Wyatt Cenac, whose chemistry with Oliver often saw them paired. Might Oliver have already found his Colbert?

Via Collider.

[Review] - Hyperbole And A Half, By Allie Brosh

It is the greatest accolade I feel I can give to something, if it succeeded in nearly killing me. The fantastic Gravity caused me to suffer a minor panic attack afterwards, so successful was it's depiction of the danger. And so too am I able and heartily recommend Hyperbole and a Half, which caused me nearly to hyperventilate, I was laughing so hard. That sort of laughter that is so strong and constant it is nearly silent, with only the occasional hard gasp as the body overrides the muscles and forces you to swallow a breath.

There was a particular sentence which took me the lion's share of twenty minutes to work through, each word only building on a mirth-induced fit, a rolling and relapsing kind of joy that built to a crescendo of me struggling for air, laid out physically and mentally by Brosh's straight forward, honest and hilariously flower free story telling. If you've not experienced her singular methods before, I highly suggest you familiarise yourself immediately.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that never think of birds as anything but dinosaurs.

15 Nov 2013

They've Really Got Something Here

Earlier today, when I made my suggestions of which classic Doctor Who serials a newbies to the series should watch first, you might have thought it odd that I didn't specifically mention the first, The Unearthly Child. It's absence shouldn't be misconstrued as a comment about the serial. I left off many serials that are fantastic, and anyone working their way through the years of programming should absolutely find their way into the story that started it all.

But it isn't a serial I'd suggest to introduce the concepts and the themes of the series. Simply put, it was too early on. The BBC, the writers, no one knew what the show was going to be then. And as if to help illustrate this point, here is the first trailer for Mark Gatiss' docudrama, An Adventure in Time and Space, which will air on BBC2 on the 21st of November. Starring David Bradley as William Hartnell and Brian Cox as Sydney Newman, the film concerns the creation of the programme back in the early 1960s, and until recently, I was looking more forward to it than I was the Day of the Doctor.

Now, I'd say they're about even.

Hello Darling

In all the hoop-la about the Hobbit, it has perhaps been forgotten that Stephen Fry is part of the cast. Personally, his casting as the Master of Laketown (and Billy Connolly's casting as dwarf Dain Ironfoot in part three) was what got me really anticipating these films.

Until now, he haven't seen hide nor hair of him. Now it's obvious why the latter was lacking.

Via the Mary Sue.

[List] - Doctor Who Newbies, Where Should You Start?

[This is the part of a month long series of articles, lists and other features celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.]

I'll be honest with you, I was uncertain what today's content would be. If left to the last minute, it probably would have been something like "The 9 Fattest Doctor Who Baddies," which is a list I not only could write, but would have to pair down to 9 candidates. Happily, I was saved from this indignity by a reader, who in the comments of last week's article asked the following question:
"I've never watched Dr. Who. Is there any advice you can give on where to start? Should one go back as early as possible and just watch whatever exists from the original iterations of Dr. Who (knowing just a little bit, that some series/episodes of it has been lost) and march forward? Or can you just kind of pop around, maybe start at the beginning of any Doctor's tenure?"
It is easily forgotten sometimes by the party faithful that it's only been 8 years since the end of the Dark Age, the 16 year gap when Who wasn't on. And that, against all sense and reason, many people in the world are not British, and therefore lack the cultural institutionalism that Who has achieved in the UK. That despite it's most recent successes (Steven Moffat puts world wide viewership around 77 million), for much of the world and certainly for America, Doctor Who is a new thing, and many people have yet to experience it.

And getting into it can be a daunting thing. Unlike Star Trek, which is an anthology of spinoffs, each with their own self contained stories in a shared universe, or Star Wars with it's two separate trilogies, Doctor Who is a single story that has been told over 50 years and 34 television seasons. One character, spanning all that time, with all the continuity snarls and dramatic character reinterpretations that would naturally be born from that scenario. So, where does the uninitiated begin?

After the jump, I'll try my best to answer that.

14 Nov 2013

The Night Of The Doctor


After the jump, I have thoughts that are more complex than that, but if you've ever enjoyed Doctor Who, watch the short above first.

[Review] - Richard II, By The Royal Shakespeare Company

Courtesy of the RSC
Honest admission time: I'd never seen a production of Richard II before this. I've read it, to be sure. Seen the monologues performed. But never the entire production. So, really, starting with the RSC is kind of like having your first bite of food come from a Michelin Starred chef. It's starting at the top. And what a top. For the first ever cinematically broadcast production from the RSC at Stratford-upon-Avon, director Gregory Doran has put on his first of 36 planned performances over six years, from the first folio of Shakepeare's work. And beginning with Richard II, has shown his willingness to experiment with the company, allowed his designers to be bold in their depictions, and elicited a package of performances that impress with their ferocity.

Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers for a 400 year old play, and a 600 year old king.

[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 8, "The Hub"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions
Last week, as I was reading a review for F.Z.Z.T on another site, the author commented that if every character on SHIELD was killed, and replaced by an entirely new team, they wouldn't see that as a negative. That even Coulson at this point hasn't been presented as a necessary or engaging element in this environment, and that starting from scratch might be the best way to save the show. I don't entirely agree with this, and feel like this is an overreaction to a series that is still very much in it's early days. Should the footing be sounder now than it was four or six episodes ago? Yes, absolutely. And it is. It's just taking a while to get there.

But it did get me thinking, as I was watching The Hub, if the characters were all killed, if the plane was shot out of the skies, which characters would I miss? Have any of them grown on me at all? Coulson, obviously, would be a felt loss. And May, who I still feel has the potential to be the most interesting character on the show. And she works best when she's playing off of Coulson. I have an increasing affection for FitzSimmons, though it might be because they are Scottish and British respectively, and therefore inherently better than everyone else (in my mind). And when I got to Skye and Ward, I felt nothing. Which is funny, considering how much they were the focus of the first pair of episodes. It seemed very much to be more Skye's show than Coulson. But this episode only served to highlight the fact that they remain the most two dimensional characters the show has, the most likely to be annoying simply by being in a scene, and probably the most likely to continue to be the focus of the series.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also have a very attractive head.

13 Nov 2013

Mal Means Bad

Let's be clear on something from the get-go, I'm not a fan of these fairy tale adaptations that have apparently become the next big trend, along side juvenile post-apocalyptic dystopias. It's not that I don't feel that the stories are worth revisiting, or that there isn't anything new to be said within the confines of the story (for proof of that, read Snow, Glass Apples by Neil Gaiman). It's that none of the ones that have come out thus far have said anything new or different, and haven't been any good.

As if to prove my point, here is the first trailer for the very expensive (and from the looks it, they spent every dollar) Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. It's marketed as giving the Wicked treatment to the Sleeping Beauty villain, but all this trailer shows us is that it's a live action version of the Disney animated version of the Sleepy Beauty tale, perhaps with more of a focus on the villain than the heroine. But what exactly about that is worth revisiting the story for? At least the horrid Snow White and the Huntsman tried to do something different with Snow White, but this looks to just hit the same notes as the Disney animators did fifty years ago, just with a grittier lens and more sever cheekbones.

And my gods that narration is redundant, isn't it?

Lets Stay On Marvel For A Moment, Yes?

A lot of Marvel news has broke recently, and the previous article got me in a mood, so we'll just stay on this thread for a bit longer.

First up, confirmations for Age of Ultron casting. Despite the fact that Marvel, Kevin Feige or Joss Whedon haven't given the official word yet (they rarely do before press release time), some actors themselves have said they'll be in the film. Cobie Smulders will be returning as Maria Hill, to no ones surprise, considering her role in The Winter Soldier, and a presumed waiting place in the Agents of SHIELD cast. Elizabeth Olsen has confirmed that she will be playing Wanda Maximoff, AKA the Scarlet Witch, and Aaron Johnson will be playing her brother Pietro, AKA Quicksilver. They will be joining the entire returning cast of the initial Avengers film, with the exception of Tom Hiddleston, whose Loki will be replaced by the titular Ultron, motion captured by the ever excellent James Spader (don't think that'll be well done, remember that Mark Ruffalo mo-capped the Hulk in the first film).

Switching gears to the newly expanded television side of the MCU, two of the four Netflix backed series have announced creative directors, and I mean the writers that will guide the creative direction of these new shows. Melissa Rosenberg, former Dexter and Twilight writer, will head up the Jessica Jones series, which she had previously pitched to ABC back in 2010 as AKA Jessica Jones. This suggests to me that Marvel was impressed with her pitch, and while ABC wasn't interested back then, and Marvel had yet to develop their television strategy, that they brought her back after all this time might speak to the strength of her vision for the character.

Also announced (or, rumours are) that Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard will be writing the Daredevil series, which Kevin Feige has suggested will be a police procedural. Goddard got his start on Buffy, and is one of Joss Whedon's go to guys, having written for Angel and co-written Cabin, as well as work on LOST and on the film Cloverfield. Goddard's involvement in the series is a real boon to a series that might be a hard sell, considering that the best known version of the character is the Ben Affleck film (if you're looking to be swayed by the character, forget about Frank Miller and take a look at Mark Waid's recent run on the title). And it's nice to see that Whedon's influence over the MCU might be expanding. I can't imagine that Goddard didn't use him as a reference.

No word yet on who will be heading up the Iron Fist or the Luke Cage series, and how Marvel intends to blend the four together for the Defenders. Though considering the one-two punch of these announcements, it might not be long.

[Analysis] - What Is An Infinity Stone? [Updated]

All images courtesy of Marvel

Thor: the Dark World ends with a post-credits sequence that ties directly into the forthcoming and anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy. The scene was directed by James Gunn, much like Joss Whedon's directing of the original Thor post scene, that lead directly into Avengers. For the sake of spoilers, I won't go into more detail than that above the jump, but the contents of the scene have been the focus of many articles around the web since the weekend.

After the jump, I'll add my two cents to the analysis of how the scene is even possible, and what it means to the future of the MCU. And it's exciting stuff too. But very spoiler heavy for Thor, so if you haven't seen it yet, don't read any farther. [August 2014 update: now includes information and spoilers from Guardians of the Galaxy].

12 Nov 2013

Say Hi Brett

All marketing campaigns wish they could be this good. Keep it up, Archer, I'm more than willing to wait out January if this is what we have to look forward to in the mean time.

Via Uproxx.

The Bear In The Big (No, Really) House

One aspect of the Desolation of Smaug that has taken a back seat to the lady-elves and the dragon-who-shall-not-be-used-in-marketing is the character of Beorn, which is a shame. Partly because, afterwards, I suspect he's going to be a favourite amongst those new to the material, and because I'm rather found of the character myself. He's been glimpsed, twice and both times only briefly, in the trailers, and both times in his bear form.

One of the many nature-oriented characters in Tolkien's works, Mikael Persbrandt will be playing the 'skin changer" in the film. Originally, the dwarves meeting Beorn would have occurred near the end of the twin Hobbit films, but thanks to the addition of a third, it'll be how the second film opens. This new featurette takes us inside the giant's home, and gives us a glimpse of the dwarves having fun, and how oversized the sets were, but we're left to image what Beorn might look like in costume for a while longer yet.

Via Collider.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 7, "The Rules of Engagement"

Courtesy of the BBC
It seems like Atlantis might have settled into a groove somewhat, which is really what you'd expect after half a dozen episodes. After some early alternating of quality, the last couple episodes have seen a level of consistency, which is the first step towards quality, so long as they can keep it up. And we got an episode devoted to the love story between Jason and Ariadne that is being forced on us, despite the fact that it still lacks any of the organic attraction that the writer's are building up between Hercules and Medusa rather nicely. It also, as a boon, is building on the continuity of the series, making the week to week seem less stand alone and more integrated. It's just a shame that the episode was rather dull.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that would never bring parkour to a knife fight.

11 Nov 2013

The First Rule Of Tweeting Club, Is Don't Tweet About Tweeting Club

What with the success of Thor over the weekend, and everyone going on about what the post-credits scene meant, and how Thor's success despite not starring Robert Downey Jr. is a good thing for Marvel, there isn't a lot else out there right now. I hope this isn't the signs of a dry week, because honestly it's been a few of those in a row already, and I'm not interested in just posting stuff for the sake of posting stuff.

Yet that is exactly what I will do. So here's Patrick Stewart talking briefly about his tweeting methods. It's just that simple.

Via The Mary Sue.

Zygons And Daleks And Doctors, Oh My

Finally, finally, the BBC has released the first trailer with actual footage of the Day of the Doctor, and eee by gum does it look like we're in for some fun. Of course, the trailers always look good, that's their job, but I'm properly excited about this now. Smith and Tennant look to be having a grand old time together, though that serves as only more of a reminder of how close Eleven has become in characterisation to Ten, and why the Dozenth Doctor will need to go hard in another direction.

Now, for some analysis. I think, from all the shots of some very Gallifreyian architecture and fashion, and the prevalence of the Daleks, that the Time War will factor into the story. And that John Hurt's character is the Doctor that stops it, be he Eight, or be he a regeneration between Eight and Nine (which will technically make Capaldi the Baker's Dozenth Doctor, and as far as we officially know, his last regeneration). This trailer makes it look like Rose is instrumental in that decision, which might go a ways towards explaining why Nine and Ten were so obsessed with her. In fact, it might explain why Nine went looking for her in the first place (as it now suggests that their meeting was a coincidence).

But damn! Bits of the Time War, hats and spectacles, and and sonic screwdriver measuring contests! I really really want this not to be terrible.

[Review] - Thor: The Dark World

Courtesy of Marvel Studios
Thor remains my favourite of the Phase 1 films. Maybe it was the Shakespearean sensibilities. Maybe it was the wild juxtapositions. Maybe it was because Thor represented the hardest sell Marvel had to make to the public to date (soon to be out seated by Guardians, and eventually Doctor Strange). And for it's flaws, it remains the one film of that initial lot I'm most likely to revisit on a whim. So, I had high hopes for the followup. And happily, as is becoming Marvel's tendency, it did not disappoint.

The Dark World is not a perfect film, and if it weren't for the likability of the cast and the continued commitment to character development, the plot along probably wouldn't qualify as even a good film. But the weaknesses are balanced out, and in many respects outmatched by the strengths, making for an excellent and direct followup not just to Thor, but to the Avengers, and the first steps towards the larger world of Phase 2.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that were happy to hear that space is good.

8 Nov 2013

Things Used To Be Better. And By Things, I Mean Animals. And By Used To, I Mean Millions Of Years Ago. And By Better, I Mean Bigger

I promised I would end the day on a high note, and what higher note then the news that some scientists have dug the rotted and forgotten remains of some ancient creature out of the ground, so that children can run in terror from them in a museum? High note!

Actually, this is the sort of news I can really get behind. First up, a new tyrannosaurid has been identified. A cousin to the infamous T-rex (they shared a common ancestor), the newly named Lythronax argestes was a theropod that lived approximately 80 million years ago. The lead author on the discovery, Dr. Mark Loewen, classified the animal from remains which consist of skull fragments, a rib and vertebra, and some leg bones.

The remains were discovered in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), an area that has provided a dozen potentially unknown dinosaurs species over the last two decades. Lythronax, which means "king of gore," lived in southern Laramidia, or what is now Utah, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, and at the time was largely isolated from the rest of what would eventually be North America, allowing a unique evolutionary system to play out. 

In an entirely different, and stranger, part of the world, Professor Mike Archer, from the University of New South Wales has identified what is being called the "Godzilla platypus." While I don't know is that name is appropriate, Obdurodon tharalkooschild has been identified as a member of the platypus family, but not an ancestor of the modern hodgepodge creature. This 15 million year old cousin was twice the size of the modern animal, up to three feet in length and - here's where it really gets different - had a mouth full of teeth strong enough to bite through a turtle. The animal has been identified by a single lower molar.

This sort of size differential between Ice Age animals and modern animals was common, even in an isolated area like Australia, who while the rest of the world was overrun by mammoths and giant ground sloths, had to content with kangaroos and wombats the size of horses. Part of me wishes the giants of the past still walked the Earth, then the rest of me remembers that I get uncomfortable around big dogs, let alone an armadillo the size of a smart car.

Via PhysOrg and the Telegraph.

I Got Nothing Else

I wasn't going to post this new (and at this point, a few days old) second trailer for Robocop, becasue 1) I'm not that big a fan of the original film, b) I'm not overly interested in the remake, and ummm... Ω) I generally dislike remakes. But things got the better of me, and I've got nothing else to throw up right now.

And, Michael Keaton does look like he's having fun, so why not. I'll do better later. Maybe.

[List] - Who Could Replace Steven Moffat

[This is the part of a month long series of articles, lists and other features celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.]

Doctor Who is very nearly 50 years old. Well, it's been around for 50 years. In television years, it's had 34 series, and a movie. Which isn't unimpressive either. The trick to sticking around that long is constant creative renewal. Any idea, no matter how good, will eventually stagnant when a single mind is behind it (look at... well, pretty much every other decade spanning franchise, at some point or another).

So, on a regular (but not dictated) basis, the minds behind Doctor Who would leave, and others would step up. Each new script editor or showrunner would bring a new creative vision, a new concept of what the show should be. The results have been a pretty spectacular range of genre constructions. From the history based stories of the early days of the program, to the Earth based military setting of the Third Doctor, to the nostalgia driven serials of the 20th anniversary year. Notable names on the list of driving influences include Terrance Dicks, Robert Holmes, Douglas Adams, Andrew Cartmel, Russell T. Davies and the current incumbent Steven Moffat, who has been leading the program for the last three series, and will be sticking around for at least another one.

This article is not about whether or not Moffat should leave the program. His original pitch of reinventing the show as a dark fairy tale was hugely successfully in his first year, though that vision has clearly underwent some erosion over the past two series. No, this article is about the inevitable day when Moffat announces he is stepping down. It is as inevitable as the actor playing the Doctor moving on to something else. And like the character, with a new writer in charge, the series will regenerate into something entire new, yet oddly familiar.

This article is about, when that comes, who should the BBC hired to fill the position.

7 Nov 2013

Marvel Defends Itself

Via DeviantArt.

A few weeks back it was teased that Marvel was shopping a massive TV package around to unconventional television broadcasters, like Netflix and Amazon. What the contents of this package were, was kept secret until today. Netflix and Disney (Marvel's parent company) have announced, in association with ABC Television Productions, that a whole different corner of the MCU is about to be explored. From the press release:
"Led by a series focused on “Daredevil,” followed by “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage,” the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a culminating Marvel’s “The Defenders” mini-series event that reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters."
Essentially, Marvel has decided to treat their TV properties in the same way they've treated their film series, which is to say 1) they will be cumulative, and b) likely wildly successful. Introducing new characters individually, then uniting them as worked for them in the past, and is in keeping with their comic origins. Think of the individual series and films as self titled books, and the team-ups being the group titles. It's brilliant.

In the press release, Marvel President describes this deal as "unparallelled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel’s brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling," and he's not wrong. Not only will this cement Netflix's place in the TV landscape, it will also inevitably lead to more opportunities for Marvel to exploit minor characters outside of the cinema. Aside from maybe Daredevil, none of these characters would have had the broader potential appeal to sustain their own film, but a tighter, more character focused series is a place they would work. And not for nothing, but back when Agents of SHIELD was announced, I put together a list of Marvel properties that should also make their way to TV. Just go ahead and compare my list with this announcement. Probably means that this announcement was obvious in it's inevitability.

If this deal, which will begin in 2015, is successful, what does that mean for Agents of SHIELD and the potential Peggy Carter series? Well, conventional over the airwaves TV will still be accessible to more people than a subscription based internet service, which means any series on ABC was potentially more viewers. But, SHIELD has been hemorrhaging viewers weekly, and hasn't exactly blown anyone away in the story department just yet. True, things could change, but they haven't just yet. I think the real message here is, that the old way of doing things is just that: old. Marvel is looking for new and innovative ways to distribute their products, and Netflix is that means. Cable is outpacing broadcast at every turn, and the old network formula of 24 episodes every season isn't the way things should be done anymore. Tighter, shorter runs make for better TV, and Marvel is obviously going in that direction. I think if nothing else, the biggest effect this announcement might have on a potential second season of SHIELD and any future series, are "half season" orders. That way, you might get SHIELD in the fall and Peggy Carter in the spring.

It's also important to note that the Jessica Jones series will be the first Marvel property centred on one of their female characters. A trend that needs to continue.

Via Collider.

Moore Tinkers With SyFy DNA

Ronald Moore hit the big time with his socially relevant and deeply character focused remake of Battlestar Galactica, right up until the moment that the bottom fell out from underneath that series (I'll leave you to figure out if Jane Espenson joining the writing staff around this time was coincidence or not). Since Battlestar ended though, he has struggled to get another project off the ground. Is this because of Battlestar's success overshadowing his followups, or because his work as showing signs of derivation? Series at FOX, ABC and NBC have all been in development on some level, and all scrapped at or before pilot stage. 

Finally, his former nest of the SyFy has given him a chance, ordering 13 episodes sight unseen of a new series, Helix, whose first trailer has arrived. The series follows CDC officers who are brought to an Arctic research base, which is undergoing a viral outbreak of some kind. The series will star Billy Campbell, and Jeri Ryan is confirmed to be appearing in at least one episode. The trailer looks like a mix of X-Files mythology stuff with John Carpenter's Thing (probably not surprising, as Moore wrote the original and unused script for the Thing remake).

We'll have to wait until January 10th before we know if it's a worthy followup to one of the best series of the 2000s.

[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 6, "F.Z.Z.T."

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions
ABC really shouldn't have skipped last week. Now we're aware that a certain upcoming episode had to align with the release of Thor: the Dark World, but F.Z.Z.T should have aired last week and this week should have been the breather. Why? It's all about momentum, something that SHIELD is in desperate need of, considering that each week it loses more viewers. It's also about making a statement. The series has introduced itself, presented the potential of what we can expect moving forward, and made a reasonable argument as to why we should stick around. This is the sixth episode, representing the end of the "try out" period. By now, viewers are either interested, hooked or gone.

Behind the scenes, after six episodes the actors should be comfortable in their roles, and the writers can start adapting the characters to the actor's strengths and personalities a bit more, where as before they were working from a framework. And, there should be a clear idea of where the series is going, in terms of tone, in terms of scale and in terms of ability. It is a rare beast indeed that is fully formed straight out of the gate, but by the end of six most of the inconsistencies should have been smoothed away. That, any way, is the hope.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that were really bothered by how no two characters pronounced Chitauri the same way.

6 Nov 2013

Television Worth Watching Returns In 2014

If the best television today is on cable (it is), then the most consistently enjoyable television on cable is on FX. Which, I'll be honest with you, I did not see coming, but the last half decade have been fantastic for that network, mostly because of the wide birth the creative crews on those shows are given by the management. There is no micromanaging, no constants notes form the Powers That Be. There is a recognition that the people best suited to plot the direction of a series are the ones who are writing that series. And kudos to FX for having the maturity to realise that. they stand pretty much alone in that regard.

The two best shows on FX are Archer and Justified, and the network has confirmed that both of these series will be returning early in the new year. Justified will begin on the 7th of January, on it's home night of Tuesdays, as Raylan takes on the Crowe family. Archer will return the following week, on the 13th, having moved to Monday nights, and will presumably continue to do what it does so well. Also returning will be the interesting, if uneven, Graham Yost produced cold war drama, the Americans, in February

All I know is that Krieger is going to do horrible things to that puppet.

Via Den of Geek.

A Serious House From Serious Bricks

Until yesterday, the most impressive display of Lego building I'd seen had been the Ghostbusters headquarters designed and created by Alexander Jones, aka Orion Pax. But despite Mr. Jones impressive achievement, I believe he has been one upped rather spectacularly by Thornsten Bosch, alias Xenomurphy. Over the course of a year, Bosch has constructed a massive and fully detailed Lego version of Arkham Asylum (it is equally impressive to point out that he had previously given the Daily Planet building a similar treatment).

If you head over to Bosch's Flickr account, you can find a sampling of the free 82 page manual he's put together explaining how he created this remarkable project. And after the jump, you can see a few more pictures of this beast.

He's Watching You, John. Now If We Only Knew When We Will Be

The BBC is keeping mum about when exactly the new series of Sherlock will air, though I think my estimate is logical. To make up for their silence, they've released this image from the new series, which others are saying is a still from the premiere episode, The Empty Hearse, though to me it looks far more like a staged publicity shot that a depiction of an event from the episode.

Now, if you'll excuse me as I move from reporting into full-on supposition mode, I have a theory as to when we'll get an official announcement about the air date. Despite the internet being able to spread the news around faster than an STD on a college campus, the BBC would primarily want an opportunity to broadcast the news when they would have the maximum potential audience. A time when whole families might conceivably be sitting down to watch programming. I therefore predict that the air date, along with possibly a new trailer for series 3, will air following the Day of the Doctor.

Mark my words, and if I'm wrong, may that not teach me not to make wild guesses.

Via Collider.

5 Nov 2013

Dog Day Afternoon Of The Doctor

It's only three weeks until The Day of the Doctor, and while we're still suspiciously lacking in a trailer for the event (seriously, BBC, you've dropped the ball in that regard), we now know the official, if still vague, description of the episode. It is as follows:
"The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him".
What does this tell us? Nothing really, but I'll willing to make some reasonable assumptions. First, it seems as though there will be multiple storylines that all feed into one another, meaning that the Doctors working together might be something the episode builds towards rather than leads off with. The "something terrible" at the National Gallery will be Eleven's story, considering the very public filming that went on in Trafalgar's Square with Smith. The "murderous plot" will be Ten's, and probably the Zygon heavy bits (considering that they were David Tennant's favourite monster, and that he lobbied to get them redesigned while he was on the show). And that would also add another layer to Ten and Elizabeth the First's relationship. That leaves the "ancient battle" as being the Time War raging in the skies over Gallifrey, for John Hurt to sort out. Because I still maintain he's an older version of Eight. How these plots intertwine is left to Steven Moffat to impress us with, and here's hoping that it at least makes a sliver of sense once everything is said and done.

Along with this information is the news that Neil Gaiman will be finishing up the successful monthly e-book anniversary series of Doctor Who original stories that has been running since Eoin Colfer started thing off back in January. Gaiman's story, Nothing O'Clock, focuses on Eleven, when Amy was his lone companion. In terms of what it's about, said Gaiman:
"I set it somewhere during the first season of Matt Smith, mostly on Earth, in our time now and in 1984, but also somewhere else, a very, very long time ago. I had never created an original monster for Doctor Who and really enjoyed getting to create a creepy Doctor Who monster of the kind that we haven’t quite seen before… I hope that the Kin will get out there and occasionally give people nightmares. And that you will be worried if a man in a rabbit mask comes to your door and tries to buy your house."
That's a very Gaimany sort of answer, isn't it? The story will go on sale individually on Nov 21st, and the entire 11 part collection will be published in physical format the next day.

Via Den of Geek, twice.
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