Looking Back — 2012: The End is Not Near

Now that Dec. 21, 2012, has come for us all (already passed for our friends Down Under) with no apocalypse — Mayan or otherwise — I’d like to congratulate everyone who didn’t fall for the manufactured Doomsday crap. Here I represent my very first post of the year, dated Jan. 1, 2012, in which I explained it all. Enjoy this blast from the past (okay, rerun)…

On this first day of 2012, what could be more appropriate than to address the impending end of the year – and the world – on Dec. 21, 2012? I’m referring, of course, to the end of the imminent end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, which some believe heralds the end of the world. Don’t worry, dear readers, I haven’t gone soft in the head and succumbed to superstition; I want to address the so-called “prophecy” in a bid to debunk it.

First, and foremost, there is no “Mayan prophecy” about the world ending when the calendar does. That’s a myth conjured by fools and con men out to exploit the foolish. The calendar indicates nothing of the sort. You will be seeing a glut of books, DVDs and probably even TV specials designed to appeal to the base instinct of fear of the end of the world.
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Introducing Burt Wonderstone

Well, the apocalypse of stupidity swirling about 12/21/12 has come to naught, so that means there will be movies to watch in 2013.

In a switch (for me), this trailer for the new comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone looks kinda fun, and this clip actually contains a couple of funny lines — which is rare, as far as I’m concerned. I am rarely impressed by comedy trailers, so this one is worth a look.

I’m starting to get tired of Steve Carrel’s gallery of “funny because they’re totally oblivious” characters, but it looks like Burt could be a funny satire of those glossy Las Vegas magicians. And I like seeing Steve Buscemi back in a comedy role. Jim Carrey hasn’t done anything for me in years, so I’m hoping this will be a comeback of sorts for him. And Olivia Wilde ensures that any movie she’s in is never a total waste.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opens March 15.

The TARDIS Changes (And I Don’t Like It)

tardisorangeinsideYesterday was a dark day for this DOCTOR WHO fan, because there has been a change in the series that I really do not like at all. Not one bit, actually. Such occurrences have been few and far between since the series relaunched in 2005, but now is one of those times. I do not like the new TARDIS interior.

I can see what was intended – a shout-out to the olden days of the classic series, and that’s admirable, but it reminds me of one the (negative) hallmarks of the classic series: It looks cheap.

Now, I’m sure that was at least part of the intention – to make the new console room remind folks of the old, low-tech-future version of the control room, but it just… makes me cringe. The bare floor especially cries out cheap (looking like the floor of the studio), as does the dinged-up gray “metal” of the main console, looking like the pieces were salvaged from some BBC junk room. The simplified allotment of oversized controls is very “Tom Baker,” isn’t it?

I’ve hidden the new image beyond the jump in case you don’t want it to be ruined spoiled…
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‘The Universe Doesn’t Care’

Oh, Doctor, you’ve really taken the loss of companions Amy and Rory to heart, haven’t you? Your dejected, depressed persona now just sees a dark and uncaring existence where once you saw light and life and adventure…

In this new clip from next week’s DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special, “The Snowmen,” Strax (Dan Starkey) tries to convince the Doctor (Matt Smith) to investigate the fresh alien snow that has fallen on Victorian London. Only… when has the Doctor ever needed to be convinced to investigate something otherworldly? Or as fun as snow – think of the snowballs!

“The Snowmen” airs Dec. 25 at 9 p.m. on BBC America.

Matt Smith Spills on British TV

The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, is never less than charming whenever he is interviewed about DOCTOR WHO, and this bit, from the show This Morning, is Matt at his best. I’m not sure any serving Doctor since Tom Baker has been a better ambassador for the show.

In addition to flogging next week’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen,” Matt covers quite a bit of ground, including why he incorporated liberal amounts of Clouseau, Blackadder and Frank Spencer into the Doctor, his Mum,  the fans (“I think people mistake craziness for enthusiasm”), his “TARDIS boots,” the new TARDIS interior (“space IKEA”), what’s written on that Type 40 plaque in the console room – and hints about the monster in one of the upcoming back eight episodes!

Definitely worth watching. Bonus: The presenters mention the 50th anniversary but do not ask Matt when he’s going to leave the role! Kudos!

The Origin of Madame Vastra and Jenny

To help us make it down the home stretch until the DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special, the BBC has released another minisode prequel to “The Snowmen,” this one called “Vastra Investigates.” Written by Steven Moffat , it’s not really an investigation, but something so much better: the secret origin of Vastra (Neve McIntosh) and Jenny (Catrin Stewart)!

We also learn that Strax (Dan Starkey) is relatively new to the crime-fighting team – but is he the same Strax we met in “A Good Man Goes to War,” or an earlier clone?

Vastra telling Jenny not to expect help from the Doctor (Matt Smith) because, “Heartbreak is a burden to us all; pity the man with two,” was quite sad.  So from this and “The Great Detective minisode, we can deduce that the Doctor, soul-sick over the deaths of his friends Amy and Rory, answered Vastra’s summons, but refused to help with her investigations. He parks the TARDIS there in Victorian London and refuses to come out. Sort of a “Do not open until Xmas” situation.

“The Snowmen” premieres at 9 p.m. on Christmas Day on BBC America.

Survivor: Philippines

survivorphilippinesIt all came down to the final four tonight on the climax of SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES, a season that I found interesting enough to follow, but not compelling enough to make it appointment TV.

Still, I did want to know who would win and, alas, it was not my choice — Michael Skupin — but rather Denise Stapley, the one-woman army, who also outlasted Lisa Whelchel, the former star of FACTS OF LIFE, and also-ran Malcolm Freberg.

The final trio was Denise, Skupin and Lisa, and while I was on the fence whether Lisa belonged there, Skupin and Denise earned their way into the final confrontation with the jury. Denise had endured every single tribal council, and kept her record straight. She won handily, earning all but two votes from the jury.

Lisa did, however, manage to pull out the fan vote for the $100,000 Player of the Season award.
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The Hunt Is About to Begin

hungergames

Katniss Everdeen, heroine of The Hunger Games

It was bound to happen: Someone would find a way to ride the coattails of box-office bonanza The Hunger Games by turning the premise into some kind of TV drama or a reality show. And now it has happened: The CW has confirmed that it is going ahead with a reality show called THE HUNT, “an intense wilderness competition” that will pit 12 teams of two against each other by challenging them to survive in the wilderness and “capture” other teams.

According to a story in The Hollywood Reporter, each team will be dropped in a wilderness area with no food, water or shelter for one month and tasked with capturing the other players until only one team remains.

No filming or premiere date has been announced, but The CW would be crazy not to debut it in the fall, during the publicity build-up for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in theaters Nov. 22.

You may remember that back in the summer, The CW was reportedly considering a series dubbed THE SELECTION that would hew closer to The Hunger Games’ (purported) inspiration, the Japanese cult classic Battle Royale. Apparently the American network was unable to reach a deal with the Japanese rights-holders to the original movie and novel, so the idea was shelved. But now it looks like the reality show may make it to series…

Lone Ranger Reboot Looks Better in New Trailer

Judging by this second trailer, Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger is going to be a quirky a film that you will either love or hate; I cannot see much room for a middle ground.

After watching this, put me in the positive camp – at least for now. I like the peculiar humor on display here, even if it does delve into the silly. (Silver climbing a tree?) I am a big Johnny Depp fan, I trust him to do something interesting with the Tonto role. And casting the relatively unknown Armie Hammer (whose greatest claim to fame so far is playing the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network) looks like a great move, because his face won’t distract from the character he’s playing. Ironically, co-star Depp will be doing just the opposite.

Also? Giving the Ranger a supernatural origin? I like it.
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The First Trailer for Pacific Rim Lives Up to the Hype!

We’ve finally gotten a look at Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim, and it is awesome.

The giant robots vs. giant monsters movie looks like it will live up to the hype; it appeared to look like a Godzilla flick should look, and it has Del Toro’s tell-tale visual style: It’s darkly beautiful.

Idris Elba has a great speech scene, as we saw, and Charlie Hunnam narrates with a suitably gravelly, war-weary voice. So far, I haven’t seen anything that I don’t like, but I think a lot will hinge on how interesting the monsters look. I’m certain that the monster scenes in this clip have been artificially darkened to hide details about the creatures, which is fine.

Pacific Rim is slated to open on July 12, 2013.