Paramount via Everett Collection
Even though there's still three months to go before Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be released in theaters, Marvel is reportedly already working on a third installment of the franchise. Though it was only a matter of time before another sequel was announced - like the rest of Marvel's recent films, The Winter Solider is expected to be a box office smash — the studio has decided to move more quickly than usual in an attempt to lock down the film's directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, for the third film. Though everything is still in the early planning stages, footage from the film has impressed both Marvel and test audiences, which propelled the studio into moving forward with the new project.
The biggest doubt as of right now seems to be whether or not The Winter Solider will actually live up to its hype, but it seems highly likely that the film will continue the studio's long line of successes. Cap is one of Marvel's most beloved characters, and Chris Evans' performance in The Avengers has helped win over any moviegoers who may not have enjoyed the first Captain America film. That kind of pedigree alone means that there should be no problems attracting an audience for the sequel, but it will be helped by forcing Cap to deal head-on with the way that society has changed in the 70 years that he was frozen. Introducing the emotional and psychological ramifications that come with the Avengers' jobs and histories received rave reviews from both critics and fans in Iron Man 3, and continuing that thread in The Winter Soldier will help to not only add depth and substance to the action sequences, but also to help make the character and his philosophy more timely.
In addition, the film will see the return of plenty of familiar faces, including Black Widow, Nick Fury and Bucky Barnes, and since all three are fan favorites despite not having any solo films, that will certainly help attract a larger audience. There will also be a new love interest, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, and a new sidekick for Cap, Stan Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon. The presence of these new characters, coupled with the emotional hurdles that Cap will have to face, open up new storyline possibilities for the character, both in the larger Marvel universe and, perhaps more importantly, in the third Captain America installment.
Though he joined the team for a while in the comic books, the Avengers lineup is already pretty crowded, so it's hard to see anyone adding Falcon into any of the upcoming Avengers films, other than in a supporting role. Therefore, the third Captain America film would be the ideal place to expand the character's screentime and explore his character further. It's already been revealed that he and Cap will bond over their shared history in the military and sense of duty, and it would be great to see that backstory fleshed out in a way that helps establish Falcon as his own, distinct character. The films have proven relatively adept at creating three-dimensional characters despite a lack of screentime, and often find ways to discuss and explore Natasha and Black Widow's past despite her only playing a supporting role in other hero's films. In the comics, Falcon had an important presence as Cap's partner, and it would be nice to see the films do justice to his importance, even if they can only do it through the Captain America films.
Similarly, The Winter Soldier seems set to forge a bond between Black Widow and Cap, both platonically and romantically, which could cause a problem with both Hawkeye and Sharon Carter. The Avengers seemed to establish some romantic tension between Black Widow and Hawkeye, and so having her and Cap become involved could either be a sign of Hawkeye's diminishing importance in the Avengers lineup, or it could set up a conflict amongst teammates, as Cap doesn't seem the type to be comfortable with overstepping those kinds of personal boundaries. Meanwhile, Sharon Carter plays a significant role in the comics, and she and Cap have a long, if somewhat tumultuous, relationship. It seems like Sharon will be appearing in several films within the universe, which means that the studio might be establishing a love triangle. It's a plot development that they've tried before, most notably in the two Thor films with Thor, Lady Sif and Jane, but it has never been particularly well received by audiences. These two women are well-written, smart, and interesting characters in their own right, so the last thing we would want for either one of them would be to see the third Captain America film taken over by a love triangle that pits them against one another. It not only takes away from what would probably be an exciting, compelling storyline, but it would negatively impact both characters.
The other major character introduction that will be occurring in The Winter Soldier is Bucky Barnes, Cap's best friend who has been brainwashed into a Soviet assassin. Although the main villain will be played by Robert Redford, the Winter Soldier will likely be a recurring villain, like Loki, and appear in multiple films throughout the universe. Both the bad guys in Cap's films are strongly to their time period and the political climate of the day, which makes it impossible for them to flit across the various planets and times that make up the Marvel universe. Bucky, however, is bot bound by those same laws, and like Loki, can move through those different universes and films in a way that seems to hint at the possibility of him being the main villain of either an Avengers film or the third Captain America. Setting him up to be the villain of the third film would be a good idea, as it forces Cap to confront the idea of fighting against his best friend, rather than beside him, which, again, helps give the film some depth. The implications and consequences of a character that has been brainwashed into evil are too interesting to be brushed off at the end of the film, and so we'd love to see the Winter Soldier be the big bad of the third film, if only to learn more about what Bucky has gone through.
The down side to news of the third film is that Marvel won't be giving a solo film to any of the other major characters, but Cap's position as one of the leaders of the Avengers allows them to incorporate those characters into his storylines, and give them more screen time. It would be really interesting to see Hawkeye or the Hulk team up with Cap on his next mission, instead of simply having Black Widow play the supporting role in every film, especially since neither character got to interact with him much in The Avengers. The fact that Marvel is expanding Cap's universe and history so much makes bringing in outside characters difficult, but since anything the Avengers do will affect them as well, it seems like it would be worth the effort.
Of course, since nothing has been officially confirmed by Marvel as of yet, there's still a chance that all of this can change, and characters like Falcon and Bucky could end up being significantly less important or interesting than we thought. But since there's nothing to do until Captain America: The Winter Soldier is released on April 4, there's no harm in trying to guess what the studio has up its sleeve.
Watching the Doctor Who 50th anniversary extravaganza reminded us that we want to live in a world where the Doctor exists. Not just because the Doctor is a fantastic person and the protector of Earth from all things bad and alien, but also because then a lot of the cool technologies featured on the show would exist as well. Since we’ve seen a lot of neat gadgets in Doctor Who over the past half-century, it was hard to decide which ones we’d want the most, but some were definitely guaranteed to make the list.
Although it might look like a simple pocket watch, the fob watch used in Doctor Who has the power to create whole new alternate universes. For instance, a world made of shrimp, if you like that sort of thing.
Used by Jack Harkness to travel around in time, it’s a handy-dandy device that any would-be space traveler needs to own.
A Time Lord’s best friend, K-9 is a robotic canine (get it??) that makes for a good companion and a useful member of the team. We wonder if the K-9 comes in French bulldog.
This simple-looking device has changed as often as the Doctor has regenerated, but it’s still one of the most important tools in the Time Lord’s arsenal. It can unlock almost any door, check alien readings, and it even has a wood setting.
It’s bigger on the inside! (Or smaller on the outside.) The TARDIS, which stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, is not only the Doctor’s way of traversing the universe; it’s also his oldest friend. Kind of like a cowboy and his horse (but don’t tell the TARDIS we said that, she probably wouldn’t like the analogy.)
Actress Jennifer Lawrence underwent therapy as a young child to deal with social anxiety issues after struggling to adjust to school life. The Hunger Games star reveals she was an energetic child, but her personality changed completely when she began formal education.
She tells French magazine Madame Figaro, "My nickname was Nitro, as in nitroglycerine. I was hyperactive, curious about everything. When my mother told me about my childhood, she always told me there was like a light in me, a spark that inspired me constantly.
"When I entered school, the light went out. We never knew what it was, a kind of social anxiety... I went to see a shrink, nothing worked."
Lawrence quickly learned she didn't need professional help and instead found different ways to channel her energy and deal with her issues.
She continues, "One day, I begged my parents to take me to a casting. We went to New York, and that's where I started acting. Just on stage, my mother saw the change that was taking place in me. She saw my anxieties disappear. She found her daughter, the one who had this light and joy before school.
"I finally found a way (to) open the door to a universe that I understood, that was good for me and made me happy, because I felt capable, whereas before I felt worthless."
Today, all of our needs are met by one indomitable force. You want to get driving directions, pay your bills, look up Gerald Ford's birthday, start dating, order food, or argue viciously with a complete stranger about the plotholes in Dragon Ball Z? You take to the Internet. But what about in the days before the Internet? That long dead, primal era known as... the mid-'90s.
See, before we all got vacuumed up into the Wall-E spaceship that is our present day society, we did things like calling people's houses, making plans via word of mouth, and reading newspapers. The latest video from Buzzfeed highlights a few more outdated practices from this prehistoric period. Check it out, and consider how much your life has changed since the rise of the almighty web.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter | Follow hollywood.com on Twitter @hollywood_com
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Little known fact: Guy Pearce was approached to play that lead role in the 2003 comic book adaptation Daredevil (the part that eventually went to Ben Affleck). According to Pearce, "playing a comic strip superhero was, some years ago for me, totally out of the question" back when he was courted to play the red-suited, blind superhero. Times have obviously changed, as this weekend he'll be seen opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man 3.
"I think I've broadened my horizons a bit," Pearce tells Hollywood.com. "The difference obviously is that the Iron Man films have proven to be really interesting and really fun and really cleverly done."
Pearce, who recently appeared in Prometheus, Lawless, and the Sundance premiere Breathe In, believes that "a lot of comic book movies out there that don't really work" but Marvel's Iron Man franchise has towed an "interesting line between reality and fantasy" while putting its character first.
In Iron Man 3, Pearce plays Aldrich Killian, mastermind behind a regenerative body enhancement process known as "Extremis." When he arrives on the doorstep of Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), he's your typical genius playboy with a shimmer of pure evil in his eye. But 13 years prior, when he first met Stark at a fateful New Year's Eve party, he was mangy, awkward, and unfit for the future Iron Man's attention.
"Here is someone who wants to get out of the hole that he's in," Pearce says. "He realizes he's annoying, he realizes he's irritating, he's constantly being rejected (and obviously we see in the film that he's rejected by Tony Stark). I think when someone you admire so much turns their back on you, it's almost like a final straw."
Pearce likens Killian's evolution to the modern obsession with plastic surgery. For a fragile personality, there can be an addictive nature to change. "Doing one thing to solve a problem and then thinking you need to do something else because there's another problem and do something else because there's another problem and never knowing where to stop. To me, it was an image I had in mind when looking at Killian and how far he takes it. Getting to the point where he just wants to take over the world," explains Pearce.
Killian may be Shane Black's subtle riff on "comic book fan culture," but Pearce is quick to clear up that it's not symbolically all-encompassing. "Here is someone who clearly has a lot of social difficulties, he's physically disabled in a particular kind of way, [and] he's extremely enthusiastic and ambitious. It was a tricky character to play," Pearce admits. The actor says he's portraying a "geek," but not every geek. Pearce says he's run into a similar situation before where one character resonates as a larger metaphor for audiences and that that's not the case with Killian. "When we did Priscilla [,Queen of the Desert] and a lot of people stepped forward and said, 'you guys are trying to say that all gay people are like this.' 'Well, no, I'm just portraying one character. Not the entire universe of gay characters.'"
Much like Prometheus and Lawless, Pearce goes under the guise of makeup and wigs to bring the pre-dapper-makeover Killian to life. The actor says that he enjoys "the possibilities of costume and makeup and the ability to change yourself on film" and is always surprised when actors look exactly the same from movie to movie. The transformation is part of the supporting character appeal — and for many years, it was the only type of role he wanted to take. He says the reason he took Iron Man 3 and not Daredevil was that he "wasn't asked to play Iron Man himself." At the time Daredevil was casting, he was worried about becoming "a leading man."
"I struggled years ago with the whole prospect of being pigeonholed," he says. "People pounce on you straight away and say, 'Oh, you're a good looking guy, we're going to shove you into leading men roles.' I really fought against that." Pearce recalls getting a taste of leading man work during his time on Australian TV show Neighbours. It left him craving to go back to the stage, where he got his start. "As a kid I did a lot of theater and played a lot of varied roles and I got much more satisfaction out of doing that. So I fought against playing a leading man role. I didn't think that was me. I didn't have anything to say."
"Now if it comes along, I'm more able to go and do it and I'm not afraid that I'll get stuck there," Pearce says of his decision to enlist for Iron Man 3. Pearce recently starred in the action vehicle Lockout where he both had a blast and nailed the persona of gruff, antihero Snow. Pearce says he's come to a moment in his career where he can perform and feel fulfilled tackling the leading man role. "I feel like I can do that (not that I'm doing it that often). I can do something like Killian in Iron Man and think that my versatility is still afloat."
So the ball is in Marvel's court now. Daredevil reboot, anyone?
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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Oh, so that's who.
Ever find yourself traveling through time and space with someone you totally dig but had literally zero idea about who or what they are? Who doesn't. And for the current iteration of our fair Doctor — someone who never really knows why, just who — we're still trying to find out exactly that. So, Doctor, who is Clara Oswald? We're well into Series 7 of Doctor Who now, no doubt building up to what is sure to be an epic finale and even more epic 50th anniversary special, and Saturday night's episode "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS" found Clara and Eleven in full-out, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey mode. Starting today I (Alicia Lutes) will be your Hollywood.com companion for all things Who. I like bowties (they're cool), blue boxes (always seem so much bigger on the inside, don't they?), and hashing out Who theories. But enough about me: let's talk about Eleven, Clara and the fantastical adventure Steve Thompson wrote us, shall we?
We found Clara and the Doctor bickering on (as they seem to always do so well) about what else: the TARDIS. Seems that our favorite blue box's issue with Clara is now a plot point — as evidenced by her curious behavior throughout the back end of this season. Something about Clara is off enough that we know ol' Sexy doesn't seem to totally appreciate (reminds me of the time when the TARDIS tried to shake Jack Harkness off) her. Regardless, the Doctor seems determined to make his two favorite ladies get along, come hell or high water.
...Or even a magno-grab! The episode begins in one of those too-obvious-to-have-been-an-accident sort of ways that has most Whovians playing inspector from minute one. Let's make Clara and the TARDIS get together, let's turn off all its defenses, let's park ourselves right next to a scrap metal ship, and — oh look! — looks like someone went and got themselves sucked right into the trash truck. Clara is lost within the depths of the TARDIS, and the Doctor needs to get her out and also save the TARDIS from her exploding heart.
The Van Baalen brothers and their android companion Tricky (interesting name, eh?) are constantly on the look out for garbage that could glean them a fat stack or two. How very "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship!" Not a bad thing, of course, but the brothers Van Baalen felt a bit too much like plot tools for bigger parallels and discussion going on within the show rather than fully-idealized characters.
But the episode wasn't all style without substance. Perhaps even creeper than last week's "Hide" was the revelation that Clara, the Doctor, and the brothers Van Baalen were being chased by monsters that weren't just creepy time zombies ("Good guys do not have zombie creatures, rule one basic storytelling!") living on the TARDIS, but actually future, dead versions of themselves attempting to reassert future events. Highly unnerving, if a bit easy to predict. Regardless, the idea was a great visual representation for not only their relationship, but also the confrontations that happened later.
Namely two: 1.) between Gregor and Tricky, who we come to find out is actually just a human and 2.) between the Doctor and Clara when they're in the heart of the TARDIS.
Tricky, upon closer inspection, is quite an interesting character device. Gregor and Bram "created" him for a few reasons: mostly, because they were bored, but also because he was the smart one (the boys' father originally wanted to leave the business to him), and it was a way for them to have "a bit of fun" with the accident that took away Tricky's memories, voice, and eyesight. Which is interesting because throughout the entire episode you're constantly reminded of how much more human he is than the humans, given his ability to empathize and feel for others. He's constantly the one parlaying how the TARDIS feels. "You're always on the side of the machines!" his brother yells, but he's just the most emotional one — so he is able to connect far beyond the reaches of skin and bone.
One of the ultimate highlights of this episode for longtime Who fans was the did-not-disappoint sojourn into the TARDIS' inndards. The swimming pool, the TARDIS library (!!! We'll get back to that particular place and time in a bit), the swimming pool, the Eye of Harmony, and even the heart of the TARDIS herself: all there, all wonderfully realized. Other rooms we saw raised more questions, though: what was that massive telescope room (is that the one from "Tooth and Claw" with the werewolf that Ten and Rose dealt with)? And what was that weird workroom where we saw the Doctor's baby bassinet and Amy Pond's old toy TARDIS, eh? A memory room, perhaps? a laboratory? Storage? There were boxes, magnifying glasses and a whole manner of things we couldn't manage to see in time. Even another damn umbrella (is Clara actually Mary Poppins or a mom or Gallifreyan-era wife?)!
I do love the TARDIS getting such a pivotal role this season, though. A sentient being, really. To prevent the looting Bram and Gregor are hellbent on doing, the TARDIS keeps shifting and manipulating its own architecture — changing rooms and creating new corridors (is that the excuse for all the lame hallway shots?) to trap the Van Baalens and any parts they attempted to loot. The TADRIS is infinite you guys. Just like those kids from Pittsburgh in that book about wallflowers.
Speaking of books: let's go back to the library. (No, not THAT Library, although I am always a fan of talking about that Library, too). We saw a teeny, tiny, insignificant little work being casually leafed through by Clara: The History of the Time War. Oh, really? So, Clara knows the Doctor's real name. Not that it matters since the episode ends with some real deus ex machina bulls**t at the outset. Sure, it's implied that she'll probably remember in the future (after running around some more with her clever boy, no doubt) thanks to the brothers remembering to be nicer to Tricky (per the Doctor's suggestion), but still. The whole "telling a story that is later erased by time being rewritten" thing isn't new, but it sure is frustrating sometimes.
And time does get rewritten in the end, when the Doctor throws the magno-grab activator back to himself through a tear in the fabric of time to the moment before the TARDIS exploded. The Big Friendly Button (or wait, is that Clara? Dun dun DUN!) has finally arrived, so that means the engine never exploded and nothing bad happened. As far as we saw, this loop of events happened twice: the first time he just threw the magno-grab control through the crack, but Clara caught it rather than the Doctor, so he had to go through the crack himself the second time to make sure there was no secret as to what it was for.
"Secrets protect us. Secrets keep us safe," is a motto the Doctor has always believed. But there's one secret he really doesn't seem to like: Clara. In the engine room we finally see the heart of the TARDIS and also the big confrontation between the Doctor and Clara. "So just tell me ... Just tell me who you are. ... I look at you every single day and I don't understand a thing about you. Why do I keep running into you?" He tells her about the other Claras. "What are you, eh? A trick? A trap?" Clara didn't understand. "I think I'm scared of you right now more than anything on that TARDIS."
And then suddenly, it seems as though the Doctor understands something we really, really don't yet. The duo hug and are seemingly taken aback as evidenced by the fact that they simultaneously looked up at each other. But then something in The Doctor's eyes changed — as if a lightbulb went off and that sudden realization looked way deeper than that of "you're just Clara." No time for explanations though, because the TARDIS is "snarling" at them, attempting to scare the Doctor away in order to protect them.
Geronimo! With a leap, Clara and the Doctor enter the heart of the TARDIS and discover that the engine has exploded, but she's temporarily frozen the burst. He doesn't know what to do, but with a simple hand-grab, Clara has the answer: the burn mark has finally stopped changing and her fragile human skin (like parchment!) has exposed the plan to the Doctor.
And how does he solve it? "I need to find ... music!" Every episode has had music going on at its crux: the singing in Ahkaten, "Hungry Like the Wolf" on the submarine — there's so much that is accomplished by song (a River Song, perhaps?! Sorry, too easy. Feel free to groan). The Doctor uses the song in order to lock his sonic screwdriver onto their previous location in space and time in order to send the Big Friendly Button back through the rift. But Clara doesn't want to forget: not everything (certainly not his name). Tough titties for Clara, though, as the Doctor seems hellbent on imposing some time/space amnesia parlour tricks.
"Time mends us, it can mend everything."
Current showrunner Steven Moffat has always told us about the Doctor through the stories of others. It's part of his Who tenure signature; and my theory is that it's all about the redemption of the Doctor. Because when it comes to his role in Time Lord history, I think the Doctor’s way more important than we know. What if the "sliver of ice" inside of him (as mentioned by Emma Grayling in last week's "Hide,") has something to do with it? Explains the need for a human companion, certainly. But personally, I imagine that something larger is at play here. Perhaps that sliver is a part of Omega (I mean, he Does seem to come back every 10 years, yeah?), since Time Lords were made via loom after the Pythia's Curse (Google is your friend, non-nerds). And Omega was from the House Lungbarrow — same as the Doctor! This would also make them cousins, I believe. Either way, in the past the Doctor has confirmedthat he was made via the loom. And when that happens, you're born as a full-grown adult that's very child-like. I'd like to note that Matt Smith's Doctor has always been called "child-like" and Clara is a nanny (and always has been throughout her many iterations).
Ice also relates back to the Great Intelligence, though, so who knows.
But I don't think the Doctor's future is necessarily in the right order. I think the Doctor is being played young because even though he's existed for somewhere between 900 - 1200 years (depending on the episode), his regenerations aren't necessarily getting older, but rather hopping around within his own history. Because "generate" means to cause or produce something, but to "regenerate" means to regrow, replace, or be re-born. To me, the story feels like it has something to do with the fact that the Doctor is (I bet) someone far more important to the history/world of the Time Lords and its origins than may have been previously detailed. And, I think it wasn't necessarily good, which is why he is now known as the Doctor, aka someone who fixes things that are bad.
It also makes me think of Little Red Riding Hood. (Stay with me, I swear this makes sense.) My roommate brought it up last week as a half-joke when I remarked about how Clara is ALWAYS wearing the color red, or something with red on it/in it. Red actually seems to be quite the repesentational color for all of the companions: Rose (no explanation there), Donna Noble and Amy Pond's red hair, Martha Jones' red leather jacket, and now all of Clara's red stuff (her red purse; this episode's red dress). Is the Doctor (or some other entity like the Great Intelligence, the Silence, or the upcoming big baddies the Whisper Men?) the Big Bad Wolf (Ahhh Bad Wolf!)? Because ultimately, Doctor Who is about the companion as the person the story is happening to (just like Red), but it also really is meant to be a tale about how an innocent victim can be taken and controlled by a criminal mentality (Red is literally eaten by the Bad Wolf) when the victim is removed from its safe space (home).
Isolation is key there. And we all know that the Doctor is a very, very lonely man. It's his loneliness that Moffat focuses on the most (from his very first episode, "The Empty Child," until now). And when you remove something or some one from that space where they're more visible, the criminal entity has an easier time trying to gain control. And in the Brothers Grimm version of the story, Little Red Riding Hood is also all about how dangerous it is to not obey one's mother. ("Are you my mummy?") You guys! I think whatever entity ends up being the ultimate string-puller is trying to isolate and manipulate the Doctor in order to change history. I think it's Omega (in the past), and the only reason he's even able to try and control the Doctor/humanity is because the Doctor has a tiny sliver of Omega inside of him, from the loom (which would tie into the resue from last week's "Hide").
But going back to Little Red Riding Hood, if it weren't for the lumberjack, Red would've been wolfmeat. So: who is that lumberjack? Is it River Song? The companions themselves? Someone else entirely? The Doctor himself? Run you clever boy, and remember!
If it were me writing this show, Clara would somehow be CAL (from The Library: haven't figured out how yet but it must involve that damn red leaf), River Song would be the woman in the shop who gave her the number of the TARDIS, and it all goes back to The Library. The Library is how River Song was not only saved, but also — I think — able to help save the Doctor. There's a reason she was there, and I don't think leading that archeology trip was the full answer. If we all know the Doctor lies in order to protect, why can't River?
Next week: The Crimson Horror. Ahh, there's that red again!
Other Things We MUST Discuss: - The key to the TARDIS — it says Smiths! Tell me River Song had that key made.- That big scratch! What in the ever-loving hell was that?- Lancashire Saxon - the Doctor says it into the intelligent sensor which then identifies Clara's time zombie as her: what does that mean? (Also/sidenote: the official flower of Lancashire? The Red Rose of Lancashire. RED ROSE!!!)- The Bells of Saint John are ringing again, my friend. Why is that?- Why, if everyone else has a dead future time zombie, does The Doctor not? How is it that he always manages to live when so many others around him die?- THE VOICES! Man, great atmospheric stuff in this episode tonight, huh? Not even just the music, but the voices. First in the library, and then again when Bram is at the console. We hear Amy Pond, we hear Clara, we hear lots of old familiar companions and Doctors. Why is that?- And also: we heard all those old voices of Gallifrey (Loved the line "Dreadful hats but smart!"). The drippy (reminded me of the crystal ball room in Harry Potter) Encyclopedia Gallifrey. Does it drip onto Clara? Part of it escapes and turns into weird airy stuff. What was that about? - It seems to me that the future continually trying to reassert itself is a theme we'll see more of later on. Do you agree?- In the original image of the Van Baalen brothers, Tricky was torn out of the photo, but at the end of the episode, he was not. This leads me to believe that when we see the Doctor and Clara at the end, the TARDIS explosion involved is different than the one they fixed — and also might've been the one that destroyed Tricky's voice, eyes, and memory.- Why is the Doctor so obsessed with how Clara FEELS? It's always about her feelings rather than say, her thoughts. Feels worth noting.- I've been saying for ages (to the two or three friends that don't groan and run in terror any time Doctor Who is mentioned in my general vicinity), but I think Moffat's been playing the long game on this story for far longer than anyone realizes. The episodes for the second half of season seven have been frustrating for many viewers. They're standalones, but also all have tiny parts to play in a much larger story. They're also so totally and completely out of order (Moffat really does love to do that, eh?), which I think makes many viewers go quite bonkers.
What did you think of tonight's Doctor Who? Sound off in the comments.
Follow @AliciaLutes on Twitter
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No takesies backsies, tonight's Doctor Who was really fun. The kind of fun that we haven't seen in awhile — in that it was light, eerie, and (I hate this word but I'm still going to say it) whimsical, without a lesson in morality or any real gravity to bog the thing down. Will we remember this story or its creepy, spider-like villain years down the line? Probably not. But I was definitely caught up in it moment by moment, and Matt Smith— who just turned a great, soulful performance in "Rings of Akhaten" — got to show some of his best comedy chops as he gleefully took on this Ghostbusters adventure.
If there is any lasting affect from this week's episode, it will come from the reveal that the Doctor wasn't actually chasing the ghost-that-wasn't, he was chasing the psychic empath assistant (who he called "companion", aw) so that she might read Clara's feelings. Oh Doctor, you sneaky mom. Luckily Clara never caught on, but it can't be too long before she figures out just how deeply he cares about her origins.
So to start, it was quite literally a dark and stormy night. Dougray Scott, who disappeared for years but is now EVERYWHERE this weekend as Hemlock Grove just started on Netflix, was hanging out with a bookish Emily Mortimer type in a haunted mansion back in '74. We know it was 1974 because they immediately said a recorder that it was night four of their attempt, November 25, 1974, at 11:04PM. Also they had just received an interference in their old fashioned ghost-hunting radio equipment, that I was thinking was the TARDIS. I mean, it was the TARDIS, right?
They went through with it anyway, because the bookish Emily Mortimer type, Emma, said that the ghost they were chasing was "So lonely." Lonely and apparently very powerful, as her spirit was shown zipping through the house Evil Dead-style, until it was too much, and a creepy-as-f**k white figure ran right into Emma's face, physically winding her. "She's… dead," Emma said in hysterics, until an ominous knock at the door ruined the moment. Was it the ghost? Had she been brought to life in physical form? Of course not, it was just an enthusiastic Doctor and Clara. "Boo!" the Doctor exclaimed, clearly giddy at the whole haunted house prospect. Clara made a Ghostbusters joke but duh, it's 1974, no one knows what you're talking about. Roll credits.
I must say, the Doctor's one-liners and rampant enthusiasm were probably my favorite part of this episode. He just barged into this house with the enthusiasm of a school girl given an unlimited allowance at Forever 21, and started rattling off The Professor's long list of achievements — "The Ministry of Un-Gentlemanly Warfare," which specialized in wartime espionage, being the most interesting. But the Doctor — posing as military intelligence — loved him, and all of his antiquated equipment. (But wouldn't all equipment look antiquated to the Doctor? Anyway.)
"I like the word 'toggle', the Doctor mused, as he examined the Professor's equipment. "Nice noun, excellent verb." All seemed to be in tip-top shape, so the Doctor was ready to meet. His. Ghost! But the Professor wasn't happy — this was his house and his ghost, and no Doctor could take that away from him, understood? "Um, no, not really, sorry!" the Doctor replied. So ghost hunting they would go.
This particular ghost, the "Witch of the Well" has apparently been around for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Her appearances were marked by a mysterious knocking, "As if the devil himself demanded entry," and she just, for the love of God, would not stop screaming. Clara instantly noticed that something was off — mainly, that in every photo (and there were many) the ghost was in the exact same position. She never changed. And apparently, she (the ghost, not Clara) now knew that Emma the Empath was there — and she was saying, "Help Me." This all
None of this sat well with Clara, who isn't one to go wandering off in a haunted house (read: She's not Amy Pond). So when the Doctor tried to convince her to investigate the house while Emma and the Professor did their thing, he had to resort to drastic measures. Mainly, cute faces and dares. "I'm giving you a face," the Doctor said. "Can you see me? Look at my face." Clara would do it under one condition — if it was a dare. A triple dog dare. "I dare you," he said. "No takesies-backsies."
So they went to the center of the house — the music room — while Emma and the Professor acted out their romantic subplot that was meant to serve as a metaphor for the Doctor and Clara's relationship. "Experience makes liars out of us all," the Professor said, talking about the Doctor but also, himself. Did this mean that the Professor would also lie about his feelings towards Emma? He didn't answer that particular question, but the romantic tension in the room was palpable.
Speaking of possibly romantic scenarios, the Doctor and Clara were now alone in the most swoon-worthy of settings — a haunted music room, by candlelight. Both of them quickly felt a cold, dark presence… and Clara, for one, was not happy. Was this because the lost spirit's ghost had empathically connected to Clara as well? I'm not sure, but the dreadful knocking sound referenced earlier was enough to shake me out of wondering about the question. Calm down ghost, we get it!
But as scary as it was, it wasn't enough for the Clara to be okay with the Doctor holding her hand. Except, wait, no — HE WASN'T. So they ran back to the main room with the Professor and Emma, where a giant DISH Hopper-like thing was floating through the air with ghostly interference. Emma suddenly saw the image of a forest through a darkened doorway, as well as the white image of the spirit looking very lost. "Help me!" she screamed, right as the Doctor snapped a picture. She also wrote it on the wall, for dramatic emphasis.
Everyone was spooked, and Clara went off to comfort Emma and chat about boys, while the boys (boy and Time Lord) discussed the Professor's darkness and death-filled history over the developing photos in the darkroom. "We think people are feeling the way we want them to feel, when they're special to us," Emma said of her feelings toward the Professor, who, for the record, still totally likes her. Also, her statement could totally apply to some of the Doctor's past companions (cough cough Martha).
However, the most interesting thing Emma said was regarding the Doctor and Clara's relationship. Clara insisted that there was nothing going on (though, was it just me, or did it look like she might have wanted there to be?) and Emma said, good. "Don't trust him," she said. "There's a sliver of ice in his heart." Woah woah woah, lady. We know our Doctor has a tragic history and that all of the empathy in the world wouldn't be able to cover it, but I'm not quite sure that "ice in his heart" is the diagnosis I would give. Should Clara fall for him? Probably not, given the obvious fact that the Doctor always peaces out when his companions age. But should she trusthim? Absolutely! The Doctor does whatever he can for his companions, though it sometimes goes very, very badly. Maybe that's what Emma was referring to. Anywho.
At this point, things got weird. The Doctor and Clara ran back outside, seemingly abandoning their mission to re-board the TARDIS. Clara remarked that the TARDIS seemed to be staring at her, to which the Doctor replied — "The TARDIS is like a cat. A bit slow to trust. You'll get there in the end!" So basically, the TARDIS pees on the Doctor's bed during thunderstorms, knocks over every glass of water and/or wine in its line of vision, screams for no reason every morning at 5AM, sits on top of his laptop, and turns toilet paper into its own personal confetti. That, Doctor, is like a cat.
But the TARDIS let Clara in of course, on an epic journey through time — or as the Doctor calls it, always — just in the same exact spot in front of the house, throughout eternity. They make several stops ranging from the Big Bang to the Jurassic era to the Victorian era to the End of Days. This all made Clara very, very sad — and, keeping Emma's words in mind, she was disturbed by the fact that the Doctor could observe the death of an entire species with no discernible reaction.
"What's wrong?" the Doctor asked. "Did the TARDIS say something to you?" No, Clara explained, as the Doctor's face turned full-on adorable (this is his "I don't f**king understand you but I WANT to face, which is one of my favorites). More like, "To you I haven't even been born yet, and to you I've been dead a hundred billion years. Is my body out there somewhere — in the ground?" she replied. I empathize (word of the episode) with Clara — it's all really heavy stuff. But the Doctor can't focus on things like that, or it would kill him. It's too much. He just doesn't get it. But when Clara said "we're all ghosts to you… we must be nothing," he perked up. "No," he said with a sense of gravity. "You're not that. You are the only mystery worth solving." Boom. Poignant stuff.
Back to modern times they went, where Emma the Empath immediately empathed Clara's muddled feelings — she couldn't shake the feeling that "everything ends." Not everything, Emma empathed. "Not love." Or fear, apparently — the Doctor put on a little slideshow with the pictures he took throughout eternity, and all of them featured the Witch of the Well. But that, explained the Doctor, did not make her a tormented ghost. In fact, she was merely trapped in a pocket universe where time runs more slowly (like "The Girl Who Waited"). A second to her was roughly 100,000 years for us, hence her all-encompassing presence in the history books.
And this non-ghost was facing a huge dilemma — the time traveler "Hila" was stuck in a world that would collapse in, oh, a few minutes. (She'd only been there for three, so it makes sense.) Her only hope was Emma, the Empathic Lantern that would guide her home. Well her and the Doctor, who would make the journey to the pocket universe — which contained an arachnid-esque monster — to pull her out.
In order to do this all the Doctor had to was put a giant blue crystal-thingy on Emma's head (it would increase her abilities, "like a pooper scooper") to open up the wormhole to the pocket universe, then jump in himself using an incredibly long rope. ("Geronimo!") The pocket universe was slightly creepy — a giant, enchanted-looking forrest permeated by a blue mist. It was also apparently rather small, as the Doctor and Hila ran into each other fairly quickly. They ran back into the portal — while the yet-unseen creature chased them — where Hila was quickly snatched up. The Doctor? Not so much. He got stuck.
Clara started freaking out, and Emma wasn't helping — opening up that wormhole had weakened her, and she didn't want to try it again. So Clara ran out to the TARDIS — and something magical happened. The TARDIS came to life as a hologram to talk to Clara, only she acted like a total bitch — literally appearing as a hologram of Clara. She had pored through all of the millions of options in her database, and, "This one best meets your criterion." To which REAL Clara responded — "You cow!" Seriously. The TARDIS is kind of a bitch now, guys.
Clara begged the TARDIS to enter the pocket universe to save the Doctor, and Ms. TARDIS was initially very hesitant. But off they went, and in good time — the Doctor was by himself in the dark forest, not having a very good time. "I am the Doctor, and I am afraid" he said to the still unseen beast that stalked him. The the beast — who was absolutely heinous — finally showed up, just in time for the TARDIS to rescue him, and for Emma to mentally rescue the TARDIS. Got all that?
Good. The next day, Emma asked the Doctor why the Doctor had come to visit — she knew it was to see her. "Clara — what is she?" he asked. "She's a perfectly ordinary girl," Emma replied. "Pretty, very clever… more scared than she lets on." This apparently did not appease the Doctor, who wanted more concrete answers. "Why?" Emma asked. "Is that not enough?" Good question — if Clara's insolvable mystery truly is, will he be willing to look past it and enjoy her not as the Impossible Girl, but as a regular human?
Emma also fit in a chat with Hila the lost time traveler, as both ladies felt as if they'd met before. This was impossible, but as the Doctor said, "she can be your "Great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter." Woah! "Yours too, of course," he added, staring at the Professor. As River Song would say — SPOILERS!
Since the Professor and Emma's relationship past present and future was just given away by the Doctor, the Professor asked what they should do next. "Hold hands," he said. "Keep doing that and don't let go. That's the secret." With this, a bell went off — earlier when something was holding Clara's hand, it must have been the monster from the pocket dimension trying to reach out to a monster in our own, or something. This part didn't really work for me, but it led us to the wonderful line "Every lonely monster needs a companion," so I'm okay with it. Get it? The monster is him! Oh, metaphors.
So in the end, the Doctor reuited the two monsters, helped unite two adorable non-monsters, and got... well, not at all closer to the mystery that is Clara. Still, what a fun week! Shout out your thoughts in the comments!
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
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The great thing about the Real Jell-O Shots of Dixie Cup Trailer Park is that there has always been some dramatic irony in the series – you always know how it's going to end before it even starts. During Season 1, we knew that the evil Camille Grammer (before her canonization as St. Camille) would get her comeuppance and that Kelsey Grammer would divorce her. In Season 2, which took a turn for the dark and tragic, we knew that Taylor Armstrong's (before she put on a black Victorian dress and became the Widow Armstrong) husband Russell would kill himself shortly after filming wrapped. This year we all thought it was going to be the year that Adrienne, the Queen of the Maloofs (a race of mole people that live under the mountain) would be getting a divorce. But now it's here, and we have been cheated.
We do know that Adrienne was attacked by the mole men she once controlled, and they ripped her limb from limb, sullying their hands not only with her gore, but with dark fake tanning solution that they will never rinse off. She is dead and she will never be heard from again. Not at the reunion, not on the next season, not even in the sale materials for her shoe, The Maloof Hoof, which is currently on sale for 75% off on lesser shoe deal websites across the Internet.
Yes, we thought we were going to see her and Paullo the Ape's relationship break down and shatter into a million bickering feuds, but we did not. We just heard about secondhand reports from Radar Online and TMZ saying that she confirmed that they split. (In fact, most of Lisa's housewarming party was spent standing around discussing stories that the women had read about each other on various websites and how true they are. Kyle thinks it is sad, but this is the life they lead. This is the life they chose, and now they're all stuck with it, a million glaring pixels pointing out their every flaw, surgery, or bathroom boink at Kyle's White Party.)
Anyway, we did not get to see the carnage of the divorce and for that, well, I am a little sad. I have a feeling it's coming in next week's finale, but they can't pack all that goodness into one episode. No, they can never.
But before we can talk about Adrienne's marriage falling apart, first we have to talk about her vodka party. We must never forget that Adrienne, when she was a Queen, was crowned in Las Vegas. Everything about her is Vegas. She is basically an over-stuffed faked Louis Cat-orze love seat sitting in the lobby of the Paris hotel. She is basically a fake canal filled with faux-gondoliers and Ty-D-Bol blue water at the Venetian. She is the roller coaster on top of New York New York. She is the sparkler that accompanies a $800 bottle of Grey Goose at Ghost Bar. She is the clown car parked out in front of Circus Circus. She is a nipple tassel at the Spearmint Rhino. She is the snap of the hooker flier a small Latino man makes before he pushes it into your palm. That is Adrienne, former queen of the Maloofs. May she rest in peace.
So, it should come as no surprise that she is launching a vodka called ZING!. No, wait. She is launching a red velvet cupcake flavored vodka called ZING! that comes in a bottle with a pink strobe light at the bottom. This party was a fantastic mess. First of all there was a wall of roses spelling out ZING! that was essentially a vodka glory hole, where liquor just appeared out of nowhere. I'm sure that Adrienne's gay party planner got this idea at a rest stop. Then there were all these models spray painted red velvet maroon with the word ZING! written all over them. Oh, and let's not forget the gorgeous people painted white who fooled only Fetch into thinking they were real statues. And the bartenders, mostly naked with topiary around their manscaped bits. Then there was the giant moving bush that looked like a Transformers robot made out of shrubbery and crawled in the same manner. There was also some girl jittering and glittering in the entry way, right after guests walked through a giant strobe-light vodka bottle. Oh, this thing was tackier than wallpaper covering wood paneling.
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All of this and they were serving all sorts of red velvet cupcakes that blinked with light. Everything blinked. Everything was illuminated (isn't that a book or something?), but no one at this party has seen the business end of a red velvet cupcake since the publication of The South Beach Diet in 2003. Seriously. And does Adrienne think this was going to do better than, for instance, her awful shoe line or, the other cupcake vodka that is already on the market or Skinny Girl Margaritas? Oh, Bethenny Frankel. She has ruined Housewives forever thinking they can replicate her success. She is the exception that proves the rule, not the rule itself.
At the party, we started to see the rift in the Paullo and Adrienne marriage, especially when she was ordering him around and telling him to do things, and he got all mad. Then he got himself spray painted like the rest of the help. ("This makes my fat disappear," he says. No, Paullo, it does not. You are still fat.) Then he climbed up in a tree and pretended to be, well, an ape. Adrienne smiled her Chesire Cat smile and tried to make a face of disapproval, but her plastic mug wouldn't move. She had to tell us that she is sick of Paullo being the center of attention, always being the dancing monkey trying to be on TV. Oh, it's so hard to be these two.
The only other thing that happened at Adrienne's party is that Fetch gathered all the girls around for a meeting of the We Hate Brandi Club and read them all a text message that Brandi sent her. "Do you know how you can fix your marriage? You and Dean should give each other a hall pass!" They all stood shocked and amazed. Fetch said her marriage didn't need any saving and she never talked to Brandi or anyone about her marriage. Wait, what? The only thing we know about Fetch is that she thinks her husband loves her more than she loves him and that she wants to sleep with other guys all the time. That is why Brandi sent that text, as a joke!
I've said it before and I'll say it again: no one on this show has a sense of humor, and they fundamentally don't understand Brandi. That is why Kyle, Fetch, TMC Faye Resnick, St. Camille, and Adrienne all sit around and talk about how awful Brandi is and how she will sleep with everyone's husband and she is an awful tramp. Brandi was joking! It was a joke. It might not have been a good joke or a funny joke, but just like when she said that she slept with everyone in Beverly Hills, it was not the truth. Lighten up, and for a change, I don't mean your skin tone.
Thankfully, Yolanda "Bananas" Foster was there to defend her. She did not back down, and told Fetch that she does talk about her marriage all the time and that if she has a problem with Brandi and what she said, she should bring it up to Brandi, not at this party behind her back where all the women can snake and sting about her while sipping some sickeningly sweet flavored vodka and wishing in their heart of hearts that there was just a nice glass of red around somewhere. Yolanda shut it all down, and for that I am grateful. I hate myself for liking her.
The other party we have to talk about, of course, is Lisa Vanderpump's housewarming/vow renewal/Dancing with the Stars cast announcement party. She was so stressed out about it that she had Brandi over so they could get massages. Lisa, if you need to relax, just spin around and look at that freaking view in your back yard that looks like it's the set of Heidi (the movie about the little girl in the Alps, not the madam from L.A.) or the opening of The Hills or something.
So, Lisa had her party planner Kevin Lee over, and we all laughed at him stripping down to his boxer briefs and wading in the pool so he could float out some flower arrangements. "Oh, what you scaring about, Lisa?" he asks in his exuberant broken English. And we all laugh, laugh, liggety laughed like he is not dressed as "Black and White" era Michael Jackson and visiting his gravestone.
The party started and everyone arrived. Lisa was wearing a long, black satin dress, as was Kim Richards, Fetch, and her mom (a satchel full of question marks for why she was even there). Does no one in Beverly Hills know how to dress for a day event? Sit right the hell back down, Kyle Richards, in your grey sequins (the dress that wasn't good enough for your store opening last week). You don't either. The Morally Corrupt Faye Resnick was there, wearing a green lace dress that looked like she found it in the window of the Exotic Video 2000 store on 8th Avenue somewhere in the 30s. The Widow Armstrong showed up with a gay on each arm in a gold dress that is somehow the exact same color as her face. She went into the bathroom and changed into her mourning garb and was never heard from again.
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Yolanda "Bananas" Foster was there, looking statuesque in white. God, I really do like her. Well, at least until she opened up her mouth and referred to her husband David Foster Wallace, who has been on more reality shows than Janice Dickinson and Simon Cowell combined, as her "king." After that, I just want to punch the smug right off her mouth. Seriously, YBF? Do you really believe that this man, who is trashier than a 46-year-old drinking a goldfish bowl cocktail at the wet T-shirt contest at the Booze 'N' Cruise in St. Pete on Spring Break Weekend, is "your king"? God, I hate that.
The party was filled with all sorts of odd characters like Linda Thompson, who brought apricot jam for Lisa because she is "so middle class." Yes, just like her ex-husband Bruce Jenner Kardashian and her son Brody Jenner. They are all middle class. They are all middle class and sold their souls to Ryan Seacrest for a production deal. And then there was Jennifer, Brandi's friend, who looks like a drag queen in the best possible way. She's not even a human, she is just a pile of fake lashes, flashy jewelry, lucite heels, and self tanner that was someone animated with gay sparkle magic. Oh, and let us not forget about DeeDee, who finally sees the light of day. Yes, St. Camille's greatest acolyte is there to protect her mistress and show her ever evolving love and devotion.
But the main event, of course, was in the final moments of the show. Yolanda and Brandi pulled Fetch over to talk to her about why she is upset with the text that Brandi sent. Fetch, like an amateur (which is why she will never happen) tried to play it off like it was no big deal, that she knew it was a joke and that she didn't think there was anything wrong with it. Then Yolanda piped up: "That's not what you were saying the other night." I love Bananas because she doesn't let anyone get away with their s***. She's calm, cold, and sober, so she has a much better memories than the rest of these tequila worms.
Across the party St. Camille, Kyle, and the Morally Corrupt Faye Resnick saw the two women talking to Fetch. The exchange got a little heated, however not heated enough to result in a fight. Yolanda was keeping Fetch honest and Brandi wanted to know what her problem was and was saying that she hoped they could be friends. However, Faye said, "They're attacking [Fetch]." Kyle, who is wise to this world, said, "No, don't go over. Don't get involved. Let this happen." But Faye barged ahead, the mint green lace jaunting across the lawn and sidling up to the conversation.
Brandi, ever the diplomat, said, "You're not involved. You can go." As with so many of Brandi's pronouncements, it was the right sentiment but the wrong wording. Faye was not there to help. Faye was not there to offer a resolution, she was there to pour nitro on the glycerine and watch it explode. Brandi knew this, but could have been a bit more subtle. Faye, like a petulant child refused to leave. Things, of course, just escalated from there.
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God, I have said lots of things are the worst in my day – hang nails, Cheeto dust, Rachael Bilson, people who take too many pictures with the iPhones at concerts, when your DVR cuts off the last joke of a sitcom because it ran a moment over, cheese – but of all those things, of everything in the universe that is bad, the worst is really Faye Resnick. She is just an awful horrible human being and I would like to banish her to a black hole so that the chill of space will suffocate her for eternity and no sound will ever escape it. On that day, you won't hear screams in space, but you will hear cheers.
I think my biggest problem with Faye is that she is just leveling insults at Brandi for no reason. Brandi has never done anything to her. Brandi hardly even knows her (at least from what we can tell on the show). But Faye is just nasty to her becaues of things Brandi may or may not have done to her friends. Faye tells Brandi that, "No matter how many Chanels you borrow, you will never be a lady." Oh yeah, Faye. Since when do you know what a lady is? Since you posed for Playboy months after your best friend was murdered by her husband and then wrote a book about the whole thing to cash in on your pain? Who is the lady now? Faye makes all these judgments about Brandi, but doesn't even hold up to the smell test herself. (I bet she smells like wet dog and magazine pages.) She is cruel and condescending and absolutely horrible.
The worst part, of course, is that Faye accused Brandi to her face of something everyone has been muttering about her behind her back: that she is guilty of breaking up Adrienne and Paullo. Even Fetch, who was in the midst of an argument with Brandi and Yolanda, thought this was too much and told Faye to shut up. Of course this is not true. Sure, she might have added a bit of strain to a bad situation. But as Kim Richards said, if they were a real team, if they were a couple on healthy ground, they would have found a way to work through it. (And when Kim Richards is being the voice of reason, you know that everyone else is on magic mushrooms or something.) Paul and Adrienne did not work it out, and they had problems well before Brandi arrived on the scene. As soon as Brandi and Yolanda heard this, they turned around and walk away from Faye, who stood there looking superior.
It was at that moment, if you squinted your eyes and walked around past the giant urn pouring its water into Lisa's pool, if you looked through that water and into the sun, that you could see it: all the spirits haunting that hilltop, fluttering around like tissues caught on the limb. There was one behind Faye, buffeted about by the elements, her hair and garments flapping about her as if they were all about to take flight. It was a blond woman, someone close to Faye, who was always standing there watching over her, pushing her forward and steering her course. You could see that spirit there at the party if you looked the right way. But then you saw it get farther and farther away, floating up into the air blown by an invisible gale and then it turned it's back on Faye and disappeared into the sky, leaving behind it a little glint of light. Faye lost something by being there that day. In fact, we all did.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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Adam Scott almost stole Pam Beasley from Jim. Well, from the Jim we know and love. Before John Krasinski became the adorable, floppy-haired jokester of The Office, Scott (Parks and Recreation) auditioned for the same role, according to EW, forcing us to wonder what could have been.
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If Scott, the somewhat slighter actor had been wooing Pam Beasley (Jenna Fisher, or in another casting universe Anne Dudek or Mary Lynn Rajskub), would he have been able to pull off all those slick pranks on Dwight (Rainn Wilson in our world, Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder Matt Besser in the alternate one)? Or would he, like his Parks and Rec character Ben, be someone what of a klutz, and charm Pam with his unbelievably goofy, sexy elf king stature? Could he have made "Are we having fun yet?" an actual catchphrase? The possibilities are endless. But one thing is for certain: we'd never have learned the romantic wonderment of the Ben Wyatt/Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler... and in alternate universe: Amy Poehler. Because she is a goddess.) on Parks and Rec. So, basically, we should be thanking Krasinski for being really, really ridiculously charming and nabbing the role of Jim.
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And Melissa McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone, should be thanking his lucky stars that he (and other Michael Scott potential Alan Tudyk of Firefly) didn't nab the lead role that eventually went to Steve Carell and made him a superstar. Reason One: Carell is amazing and no one should be deprived of his first five seasons of genius. Two: Now his claim to fame gets to be as the Bridesmaids Air Marshall with a gun where the sun don't shine and a strange naked-hungry-bear-eating-sandwich fetish.
Of course, despite varying gripes about the later seasons of The Office, we can't deny how grateful we were for the series in the perfection of its first few seasons. It's fun to think about what could have been, but I for one, wouldn't have changed a single thing about the U.S. Office.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit:]NBC; Wenn(2)
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Friends, Klingons, readers! Welcome to the inaugural edition of Get Thee to the Geek, Hollywood.com’s weekly column devoted to everything that prevented you from getting a date in high school: sci-fi, comics, videogames, basically anything that features something going “pew pew.” We’re not just going to limit ourselves to movies, TV, or games—if there’s something worth obsessing about, we will obsess about it. For Volume 1 of this column, I thought about doing something all pretentious like come up with a geek mission statement. But then I realized we’re not the types who like an ordered set of guidelines to govern our interests. In fact geekery is defined by only one thing. And that one thing is not a quality you might automatically associate with geeks but is really the foundation of contemporary geek culture: passion.
We geeks unabashedly, unreservedly love the things we love, without regard to such matters as taste or cred. Oddly enough, that means true geeks typically have great taste, which has given geek culture enough cred for us to have pretty much taken over American entertainment. As Hollywood’s annual tribute-paying at Comic Con shows, geeks are loud, proud, and a more coveted demo than ever. And who are the loudest, proudest geeks of all? Trekkers. So for the first ever Get Thee to the Geek, we’re going to dive deep into a show that’s cast a remarkable, if largely unrecognized shadow over contemporary pop culture. A show that’s a subculture within a subculture: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Sure, The Original Series gave us Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, green space babes, tribbles, and Clint Howard as an evil genius baby. The Next Generation gave us an individual with possibly the single greatest moral compass in TV history: Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. And even Voyager remains startlingly underrated, with an incredible lineup of brainy girl power that made possible J.J. Abrams’ “Babes Who Kick Ass” phenomenon. But Deep Space Nine is better than all of these. Fourteen years after it signed off, in May 1999, DS9 hasn’t aged a day, but continues to move and inspire. 2013 represents the show’s 20th anniversary, and instead of getting drunk on Klingon blood wine we’ve decided to honor the occasion by presenting nine reasons why it’s the best that Star Trek has ever been, and how its influence is still being felt.
1. It’s the Only Star Trek Series That Shows What It’s Really Like to Live in the 24th Century
Based on The Original Series and The Next Generation, you’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone, and I mean everyone, living three centuries in the future is a member of Starfleet. The only view we have of that more enlightened future Earth is of the United Federation of Planets’ exploratory military branch. Okay, partly that’s because it was always easier and more cost-effective for Trek to set episodes largely within the already-built sets of the Enterprise interiors. It hardly seems a more enlightened future, though, if everyone is in the military. Deep Space Nine opened up the Star Trek universe and finally showed us what it would be like to live there. The show was set on a space station, not a starship, near the Wild West frontier of the Federation’s most distant borders. Purists who venerated Gene Roddenberry’s original “wagon train to the stars” vision cried foul, even though Roddenberry himself approved the space station concept before his death in 1991. But setting the show in one place allowed us to explore the Star Trek creator’s utopian vision like never before: here was a place where beings of all races could commingle, conduct trade, get drunk at Quark’s bar, and let off steam in the holodeck. Deep Space Nine, the name of the space station, was actually a place to live in.
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That allowed for the best worldbuilding—a term that’s become only more relevant since DS9’s 1993 debut--that Trek has ever given us. A vision of what it’s like to work, play, and live in the 24th century. With strong worldbuilding you can engage with and immerse yourself in a fantasy environment all the more fully, and invest more deeply in its characters. That’s what one of DS9’s writer-producers, Ronald D. Moore, learned from the show and brought with him when he relaunched Battlestar Galactica in 2003. Of course, exploration was still a big part of the DS9 concept. There were Runabout shuttles for away missions and, later, the coolest Federation starship ever, the U.S.S. Defiant. DS9 avoided the glistening, but antiseptic, white-on-white corridors that were the defining features of interior design on the previous shows. That’s partly a reason why…
2. DS9 Gave Star Trek a Harder Edge
Today, adding a touch of darkness to your sci-fi/fantasy franchise is equated with seriousness of intent. Just think of how many people want a Star Wars: Episode VII that’s harder-edged than the prequel trilogy. Somehow a more gritty Episode VII will be a movie that’s taken more seriously. That’s a false correlation, if you ask me, but on DS9 it worked beautifully. In fact, it may be the first example of a franchise reevaluating itself by going in a decidedly more dark direction. For one, since the space station was in essence a border town, there were many opportunities to question the Federation and test its values. And, more than ever, it allowed for us to view the Federation from the perspective of outsiders. Check out this great discussion between DS9’s Ferengi barman Quark and his Starfleet ensign nephew, Nog, about the fragility of human beings,’ well, humanity.
The idea of Star Trek not being all about starry-eyed optimism was revolutionary, and the tone was set from the get-go in the 1993 pilot episode, “Emissary.” Here’s how the show began, with tragedy and loss, and one incredibly ominous opening crawl:
You’ll also notice that J.J. Abrams opened his 2009 Star Trek with a prologue just like that. Later in the pilot, DS9 made its break with Trek tradition even more clear. Commander Benjamin Lafayette Sisko (Avery Brooks), the fiery star of the show, has an incredibly tense meeting with Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard in which the Enterprise captain has to acknowledge the fact that he played a role in the death of Sisko’s wife, when he (unwillingly) gave the Borg intel about Starfleet’s defense protocols. Picard, our hero, seems strangely unburdened by the cost of the carnage he has indirectly unleashed…until that moment. Suddenly, guilt became a part of Star Trek, and so did regret.
NEXT: Why so serious? Yeah, DS9 could be dark, but it was also the funniest Trek series by far.
3. Trek’s Morality Suddenly Got a Lot More Ambiguous
So DS9 existed in a world of greater verisimilitude than any Trek series before it, and with it presenting us a “real world” came the realization that right and wrong aren’t always absolute. Sometimes ignoble actions are necessary to facilitate noble goals. This was the theme of the episode that’s often considered the very best of the series, Season 6’s “In the Pale Moonlight,” when Capt. Sisko (yes, after three seasons he finally got a promotion) revealed how he helped stage an assassination in order to force the Romulans to join the Federation’s fight against the primary antagonists of the show, the Dominion. Avery Brooks directly addresses the camera in that ep, like he’s straight out of House of Cards…and yet he’s still never less than our hero. “I lied, I cheated, I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all? I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again? I would.”
It’s impossible to imagine Kirk or Picard making such a boldly relativistic statement about morality.
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4. But It Really Has a Sense of Humor!
I’m making DS9 sound like a depressing exercise in interstellar sturm und drang. Far from it. Yes, the show was Trek at its darkest. The way it killed off characters very much preceded how cheap life is on TV today. Heroes could have a streak of larceny in them. But episode for episode, I’d say DS9 was the funniest Trek of all. Take a look at this great moment between barman Quark (Armin Shimerman) and his Cardassian patron Garek in which they pair the moral inquiry and ambiguity that made the show so smart with a dash of rapier wit.
And the laughs on DS9 weren’t all dialogue-driven. One of the most inventive TV episodes of all time, “Trials and Tribble-ations,” digitally inserted the time-traveling DS9 crew into scenes from the Original Series episode, “The Trouble With Tribbles,” from 1967. In the episode, the culture clash between the 24th and 23rd centuries was at issue, but, in real life, for us, it was about how much the conventions of television had changed between the ‘60s and the ‘90s.
5. It Was a Bold Experiment in Serialized Storytelling
Star Trek had always been episodic, devoting one episode to a single mystery, conflict, or quest. DS9 upended that and paved the way for today’s serialized storytelling with long-term story arcs. The last five seasons of its seven season run are concerned with the Federation’s run-ins with primary series antagonists, the Dominion, culminating in a war between the two great powers that dominates the storylines of Seasons 6 and 7. Serialized shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica, that also featured sprawling ensembles, focused heavily on how their characters lived their lives, and balanced moral murkiness with humor, something unimaginable without the precedent set by DS9.
NEXT: It's the characters, stupid. Why DS9 didn't just prove to be influential but revolutionary.
6. It Featured the Best Special Effects in the History of the Medium
Back to that whole lived-in realism thing…I don’t know if there’s ever been a show in the history of the tube with better special effects. I remember watching an episode of ABC’s V a couple years back and thinking that some force-field effect they had looked worse than what DS9 was doing 15 years before. And V was a network show, while DS9 was merely in syndication until 1995, at which point it went to UPN, hardly a guarantee of quality. Mostly, it’s because the Trek franchise’s TV production company, Paramount Television, had contracted Industrial Light & Magic to render its effects. Here’s a space battle from DS9’s 1998 season finale. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look every bit as good today.
7. It Was That Rarest of All Things…A Sci-Fi Character Study
But as great as the special effects were on DS9, what was truly dazzling was its exploration of its characters. Sci-fi isn’t traditionally known for its emotionalism. But the astonishing number of heart-tugging moments during its run, testifies to DS9’s deep investment in the psychology of its characters and the crafting of complex, resonant relationships among them. SPOILER ALERT if you don’t want to see the final parting of Rene Auberjonois’ Odo and Nana Visitor’s Kira in the following video from the series finale. To me, however, this was indicative of everything that made the show so great. Even watching it out of context and on YouTube I still found myself getting misty-eyed.
8. It Featured the Best Ensemble of Any Trek Series
Of course, as great as the DS9 writing team, led by Ira Steven Behr, Michael Piller, and Ronald D. Moore, was, it wouldn’t have meant anything without an exceptionally gifted cast to bring those characters to life. Brooks brought a theatrical flair to Captain Sisko, Alexander Siddig brought finesse and elan to Dr. Bashir, Robert Altman veteran Rene Auberjonois brought quirkiness and off-beat charm to Odo, Nana Visitor feistiness and tenacity to Kira, Armin Shimerman gleeful amorality to Quark, Terry Farrell intelligence and sexiness to Dax, not to mention those two great additions from The Next Generation, Colm Meaney as Miles O’Brien and Michael Dorn as Worf.
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9. It Was Groundbreaking In Its Diversity Without Ever Being Smug or Self-Conscious About it
After years of shows with racially and ethnically diverse casts like Lost and Grey’s Anatomy we may forget just how revolutionary it was in 1993 to cast an African-American as the lead on a show not geared primarily toward an African-American audience. And as a Starfleet Captain no less! This was not color-blind casting, however. A native of New Orleans and proud of his heritage, Sisko was truly a 24th century African-American. The key was that, though he was proud of being black, he wasn’t defined solely by being black. The same goes for a character that was every bit as groundbreaking, Alexander Siddig’s Dr. Bashir, who may have been the first-ever Arab character as a series regular on an American primetime drama. Bashir was cultivated, stylish, savvy. Oh, and a genius. Quite a difference from the way people of Arab descent are often stereotyped on TV. The fact that DS9 acknowledged this diversity, while making it clear that each character’s race and ethnicity was only one part of what made each unique was a triumphant balancing act that many series still struggle with today.
Quietly revolutionary and hugely influential, for my latinum DS9 is one of the most important shows of the last 20 years. It still boldly goes where other series fear to tread. Today’s geek culture is unimaginable without it.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
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A ten-part series about the history of science in the West from ancient to modern times. James Burke, the series creator and host, traces the discoveries that have fundamentally transformed man's understanding of the world around him and the universe he inhabits. The premise of the series states that people make descisions based on the knowledge available at the time. When knowledge changes, people adjust their attitudes and prejudices accordingly, and in each successive age society defends what it "knows" against what it considers ignorant and barbaric. Simply, when what we know changes, what we are changes.