#DoctorWho Series 6 Episode 1, The Impossible Astronaut”: visual spoiler!

Don’t click below if you haven’t seen the episode. I’ve found a visual spoiler.

It’s related to the well-known fact that Craig Owens (played by James Corden) will return in Series 6.

UIPDATE: must-read review at Tor. No spoilers.

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Dr. Who Christmas Special airs Christmas Night… in the US, too!

The colonies have finally caught up – the Dr. Who Christmas special will be aired the same night in the US as the UK, Christmas night. The reviews are in, and as always intellect and romance will triumph over brute force and cynicism. Presumably, no spinning Christmas trees of death or robotic menaces this time, just Matt Smith, unhinged and unbound.

How about a preview?

BBC America, of course. I am not sure if I can watch BBC America at home because we dont have an HDTV (though we do have digital cable). Will have to try it out. Otherwise, I’ll just torrent it.

and so, the (Stargate) Universe ended

In the Beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. — The Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy

This is pretty depressing news – Stargate: Universe seems to have been canceled. They are midway through their second season run and the final ten episodes will air in the spring, they will also modify the plot to wrap up the storyline early (since it was originally scripted for a five year run).

That shows like ST:Voyager get dragged out for years but the great shows like Firefly and SGU get dropped before they’ve had a chance to build a wider following is massively frustrating to me. It’s amazing to me that Galactica was permitted to survive long enough to finish. Sadly, most science fiction (and SGU was no exception) have tried to imitate Galactica’s formula of oversexed characters to try and draw in the mainstream male demographics. I expect the lesson of SGU’s demise, as far as TV producers go, is that there was too much plot and not enough skin. SGU was one of the few shows out there that could credibly be called a successor to Galactica; even Caprica Galactica’s own designated heir already got the axe. The future of American science fiction is dim.

We still have the British franchises, namely Doctor Who, and if the stars align more of Sherlock. And Warehouse 13 seems to have survived the chopping block, though for how long?

Meanwhile, the SyFy rebranding is revealed to have indeed been appropriate. SyFy doesn’t have the patience that Sci-Fi channel did for good science fiction. They just want shows that look like science fiction. It’s just “siffy” now. I’m disgusted, and if I had the option to choose cable channels a-la-carte I’d drop Siffy entirely.

Incidentally, this is an example of why cable should indeed be a-la-carte. Niche channels will regress towards the mean of television norms instead of staying faithful to their niche as long as they are subsidized by general cable premiums. If these niche channels must justify their existence, however, to the niche audience, they will take more risks – and the niche audience will be more willing to pay. Right now I pay about $40 for hundreds of channels; I’d happily pay $50 for just a handful, and Siffy could get a much larger share of my money.

I hope at some point that we can skip able distribution entirely and see a future where TV shows are marketed directly to Netflix and Hulu plus.

At any rate, the long drought of American science fiction has begun.

in which intellect and romance triumph over brute force and cynicism

I’m not that familiar with Craig Ferguson’s body of work, but the man deserves infinite kudos for this.

The funny thing is, this was leaked over YouTube, but actually never aired – he was stopped five minutes before broadcast, because they technically didn’t have the rights to use the theme music. Here’s the segment which broadcast instead.

Sherlock: No sh$%

Sherlock (BBC)I returned from a lengthy trip and caught a few episodes of the Grand Moffat’s latest series, Sherlock, on the flight. This particular reimagination of Sherlock Holmes is unique in that it is set in the modern day rather than the Victorian era, which for me was like a revelation. The Wikipedia entry describes the series development and inspiration in detail and makes for good reading in its own right, as a case study in adaptation of a literary masterpiece to a different medium. For example:

The writers say that they didn’t want to force the modernity of the world onto the story. There were some creative challenges, such as the decision to include the sign “221B” on Holmes’ front door. Gatiss and Moffat reflect that in the modern world the door would only display the number of the house, and there would be doorbells for each flat. However, the full house number is so iconic that they felt that they could not change it. The writers also decided that the lead characters would address each other by their first names, rather than the traditional Holmes and Watson. Director Paul McGuigan came up with the idea of putting text messages on the screen instead of having cut-away shots of a hand holding the phone.

One of the modernizing facets of the show is that John Watson is encouraged to start a blog, as means of working through his adaptation to civilian duty and the psychosomatic limp. That blog is actually available online, and makes for great supplemental material to the show, as is Holmes’ own website and even the website of the landlady at 221b Baker Street! These tie-in websites are well done, if a bit amateur (though I am utterly spoiled with respect to
ARGs by Cloudmakers).

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re just getting introduced to the series), there were only three episodes made thus far. The series will be continued but our man Watson is off to New Zealand to play at Bilbo (which is also good news).

Frankly, the series was superb. So much so that if it continues, it could even eclipse Doctor Who. The parallels between the Doctor and Holmes are pretty amazing if you think about it (right down to the sidekick) and that certainly isn’t entirely coincidence. This is a great series. Between this, Dr Who, and Stargate Universe, it’s a golden winter for science fiction.

(and yes, I count Sherlock as science fiction. Discuss!)