Set your TARDIS for Easter: DOCTOR WHO Returns March 30

mazzajazzaFinally, some good news from across the pond — and on these shores — to delight my fellow DOCTOR WHO fans! The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) is returning a tiny bit sooner than expected — but what else would you expect from the Time Lord with questionable timing?

The BBC has announced that the second half of season seven will premiere on Saturday, March 30. And BBC America has confirmed that it will air the new episodes on the same day as the BBC. There will be eight new episodes, so the show is looking at a May finale, just like many American series. (BTW, the finale has been shooting in Scotland, leading to speculation that the story is set… in Scotland. Possibly in the Victorian Age.)

Surely you remember that the Christmas Special, “The Snowmen,” left us with a cliff-hanger revelation about Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna Louise Coleman), and that lead writer Steven Moffat has promised to tease us with clues about her. Personally, I like the idea of this mysterious companion, since we haven’t seen this sort of intrigue since Turlough and the Fifth Doctor.
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Robert E. Howard Did More Than Just Create Conan

rehfence
REH in a pensive mood

Today marks the 107th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Howard, the quintessential American pulp author best-known for creating Conan the Barbarian.

REH, as he known to fans, had an incredibly prolific and all-too-short career lasting from roughly 1929-’36. His powerful, evocative writing has always been an influence on my own writing, almost as much as H.P. Lovecraft. Like Lovecraft, Howard had a talent for painting lush, detailed scenes in only a few evocative words — although literary critics like S.T. Joshi dismissed REH’s prose as “subliterary hackwork that does not even begin to approach genuine literature.”

But, hey, Howard did much more than unleash a barbarian on pop culture. He helped shape modern pop culture by fathering the “sword and sorcery” subgenre of fantasy and contributing to Lovecraft’s horror mythos. Howard came up with a number of other vivid characters, including Solomon Kane, Kull the Conqueror,  Sailor Steve Costigan, Cormac Mac Art, Bran Mac Morn, El Borak and James Allison — notable for being disabled. I have previously looked at REH’s life, which tragically ended in suicide, so now I turn to his literary output.
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A DOCTOR WHO Special with 11 Doctors?!?!

11doctorsartCould it be true? Could the collective greatest dream of DOCTOR WHO fandom come true in this, the series’ 50th anniversary year? I am referring, of course, to a special episode featuring all the living actors who have played the Doctor. But the newest rumor bouncing around the Internet today is that Steven Moffat is penning an episode incorporating all 11 Doctors — played by their original actors!

Now, before we get all teary-eyes over the prospect of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor working alongside Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor once again, or Matt Smith’s barking mad 11th Doctor getting a hand from Patrick Troughton’s fussy Second Doctor, we need to take a deep breath and note that this is nothing more than a rumor.

And not even a very solid one, at that. The Birmingham Mail newspaper printed a story about an 11-Doctor special this morning without any sourcing or quotes — a sure sign that the story should be taken with a huge grain of salt (if not the entire salt shaker). Plus, certain details mentioned don’t really ring true.
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DOCTOR WHO 7.5 Promises Some Good Stuff

Who’s this? It’s Rachael Stirling as Ada Gillyflower in “The Crimson Horror.”
Who’s this? It’s Rachael Stirling as Ada Gillyflower in “The Crimson Horror.”

When the back half of series seven of DOCTOR WHO finally commences — most likely sometime in April — there will be some scary stuff coming down the pike, according to the director of two of those episodes, Saul Metzstein.

The first up is episode 11, “The Crimson Horror,” by Mark Gatiss (his second story in this half of the season, following episode 8). Metzstein describes it thusly:

“It’s very tight, and has its own peculiar particularities. Its own unique flavor. It’s very funny. Terribly creepy. It’s from that genre of DOCTOR WHO where the Doctor doesn’t appear till some way into the episode. I’ve been watching some old DOCTOR WHO, and it’s that type of episode. Also, it has a massive flashback in the middle of it, which is unusual for a program about time-travel! I like its odd structure.”

The director is also helming the finale, penned by Steven Moffat, but is far more closed-mouthed, saying only, “It has genuinely scary monsters. Wait and see!”

SPOILERS! Details of Neil Gaiman’s story are revealed after the cut…
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A Peek Behind the Scenes at ILM

We all know Joss Whedon’s The Avengers was nominated for just one single Academy Award — for special effects — but it should win the prize in a walk. Just to remind everyone how awesome and detailed the SPFX were, Industrial Light & Magic has released a special clip that demonstrates how some of the visuals were achieved.

Pretty amazing, if you ask me. (And I really love this kind of “how they did it” feature, so DVD/Blu-ray has been a real boon to me.) These were the effects The Avengers deserved.

Anyway, here’s what ILM had to say about the reel:

“We are proud to present this video, which showcases some of ILM’s Oscar nominated effects work for the 2012 hit film, Marvel’s The Avengers. This reel represents a small fraction of the work created by over 200 ILM artists, scientists, and engineers backed up by a world class production team.”

By the way, did everyone notice that the Oscar nomination list referred to the title of this film  as Marvel’s The Avengers?

85th Academy Awards Nomination List

Here is the complete list of nominees for the 85th Academy Awards — without any snarking from me. The Oscars will be handed out on Feb. 24.

BEST PICTURE

“Amour”

“Argo”

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

“Django Unchained”

“Les Miserables”

“Life of Pi”

“Lincoln”

“Silver Linings Playbook”

“Zero Dark Thirty”

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Del Toro To Try Scaling Mountains of Madness Again!

madness1Director Guillermo Del Toro, bless his geek heart, has decided to take another run at getting his dream project — a faithful adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic tale At the Mountains of Madness — off the ground and into multiplexes.

The Mexican maestro is so dedicated to this project that reviving ATMOM was one of the reasons Del Toro turned down a chance to direct Star Wars — Episode VII!

Del Toro had gotten pretty far into preproduction on ATMOM with none other than Tom Cruise in the lead role way back in 2011 when Universal suddenly pulled the plug, nervous about the flick’s unavoidable R rating and a budget that was anything but cheap.
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