Matt Smith Visits Craig Ferguson

Transplanted Scotsman Craig Ferguson moderated the DOCTOR WHO panel at Comic-Con last weekend, and Matt Smith dropped by his chat show, THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON, last night to be utterly charming — and make me even more sad that he is leaving the role of the Doctor.

Among the most interesting bits are Matt mentioning he’s buds with Nathan Fillion and Matt’s imitation of the English Wood Pigeon!

Why, why must you go, Matt?

Browncoats Unite!

Comic-Con International: San Diego 2012 has come up with the first bit of good news for Browncoats in as long as I can remember: The creators of the cult series Firefly will gather for a 10-year reunion in San Diego — and the Science Channel will tape it for a one-hour special to air on Nov. 11.

I know what you’re thinking: The Science Channel? Well, they’ve been airing reruns for the last year or so, and piling up gangbuster ratings, so they figured it was worth the investment to dish up a little treat for its loyal Browncoats.
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Soap Opera Weekly: 9/22/09

Can anyone think of a reason why Nathan Fillion is not one of the biggest stars around? His star vehicle, CASTLE, owes its success entirely to his lead character. This is basically, “MURDER, HE WROTE,” but Fillion (ex-Joey, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) is so charming that the premise doesn’t really matter; it’s just an excuse for Fillion (ex-Mal, FIREFLY) to smirk and deliver the show’s best one-liners. Sure, co-star Stana Katic (ex-Hana, HEROES) gets in her licks as Detective Beckett, and the able supporting cast (including GENERAL HOSPITAL’s former Ian Devlin, Seamus Dever)…er, supports ably, but it’s still Nathan’s show. Take this line from last night’s second-season premiere: Upon discovering a corpse with all its internal organs carved out, Castle declared, “Somebody hated his guts.” Okay, so it’s not a gut-buster or even shockingly original, but it’s damn funny and Fillion delivered it with aplomb. The killer turned out to be… ah, nobody really cares. This series isn’t about the hunt for a killer, it’s about the people hunting for a killer. And the chemistry between Fillion and Molly C. Quinn, who plays Castle’s daughter, Alexis, is fantastic (even if Alexis is just a little too perfect to be believed).

Killing and mayhem and fathers and daughters all figured into the fourth-season premiere of HEROES last night, as well. But most of it was far less compelling than on CASTLE. I love watching Hayden Panettiere and Jack Coleman play out the Claire/Noah father/daughter dynamic. And it was funny that Claire’s roommate from hell was played by a fellow soap vet, DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ Rachel Melvin. I know Claire will get along much better with Gretchen, played by Madeline Zima (Mia, CALIFORNICATION). It was a little hard to judge where the season will go from here because the two-hour block was dedicated to setting the stage for what’s to come. But Robert Knepper (ex-T-bag, PRISON BREAK) has the potential to turn Sam Sullivan into a classic villain. I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude with HEROES — as in, I’m waiting to see what the deal is with that freaky tattoo ink…

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 3/17/09

The occasion of the senior play was an excuse for GOSSIP GIRL to pile on references to classic novels (yes, books) like The Age of Innocence, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Great Gatsby, and films like The Graduate and Eyes Wide Shut. (Don’t laugh. Stanley Kubrick himself reportedly considered EWS, completed just four days before his death in 1999, to be his greatest film.) So watching the episode was almost like taking a class. A class for models. The plot had the kids staging a performance of The Age of Innocence, with events at Constance Billard School for Girls paralleling the characters/situations in the Edith Wharton book. Toss in Rachel serving as Dan’s “Mrs. Robinson” (even though her portrayer, Laura Breckenridge, looks about 5 years younger than Penn Badgley) and Chuck pursuing Elle, and the episode was practically a pop-culture quiz. Rachel was forbidden from seeing Dan and ostracized by the other teachers, just like in the 19th century New York society of Wharton’s book. Dan was reduced to passing Rachel notes (Really? He couldn’t text her? Oh, I forgot, they didn’t have Twitter in the 1870s.) Meanwhile, Blair’s fall from grace with Yale allowed her to relate to her character, Countess Olenska. Nate conveniently played Beaufort, the dashing gentleman whose family lost its fortune. (Typecast much, Julian?) Even GOSSIP GIRL’s usual weekly romantic misunderstanding was classed up by having Nate jump to the wrong conclusion after seeing Vanessa’s Cyrano act. (BTW, Marty Scorsese’s adaptation of Innocence really is, as Nate observed, heartbreaking. Rent it.)

I decided to check in on 24 this week and, no surprise, Jack was running around, growling about killing people and and generally trying to convince someone that there are traitors in the government (again). Why, oh why, will no one in power believe Jack? He’s been battling terrorists and exposing traitors in the White House one day at a time for years. You cannot even argue that Jack’s previous missions might have been classified; people like the president’s chief of staff would have access to that intelligence. To me, that general lack of faith in Jack requires the biggest suspension of disbelief. That people would willingly convince themselves that this time Jack has gone off the rails and is lying…that is infinitely more silly than believing in private armies armed with WMD and doomsday gadgets on U.S. soil. How cool was it that Sebastian Roché’s (Jerry, GENERAL HOSPITAL) character, Quinn, got to fight Jack Bauer? The next time I talk to Sebastian the first thing I’m going to say is, “Dude, you got killed by Jack frakkin’ Bauer! How cool was shooting that?” Kiefer Sutherland got another one of those scenes he demands every season, where Jack gets to take a breath and emote. Here, Jack expressed regrets about wife Teri, about his daughter Kim, “and that the world even needs people like me.” Well, we certainly need Jack (and Kiefer) on TV.

This was only the second episode of CASTLE to air, yet the show already feels like it has settled into a groove — for better or worse. Kate seems a little too familiar with Rick so soon in their relationship; it’s almost as if this episode was filmed later in the production schedule, after Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have had more time to get accustomed to each other. In fact, the relationship between the characters reminded me of BONES more than MOONLIGHTING last night, perhaps because Katic bears a slight resemblance to Emily Deschanel. (Well, from a distance, at least.) and that same sort of winking attitude. This particular episode also reminded me a lot of soaps, since YOUNG AND RESTLESS’s Michael Graziadei guested as Brent, the suspicious ex-boyfriend of a nanny who was found murdered and stuffed into a dryer. Sarah Drew (Kitty, MAD MEN; ex-Hannah, EVERWOOD) appeared as Chloe, a fellow nanny. There was also another daytime shout-out: After complaining that his own nanny spent her time drinking and watching soaps instead of raising him, Castle acknowledged that he got the plot for his first novel from watching ONE LIFE TO LIVE. (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink!) I like how Rick “investigates” cases by thinking about what would make a “good story” — thus leading the police to consider someone other than the obvious, lazy suspects. Fillion’s Rick also got off the best line of the entire night, while suggesting that Kate should get married: “You’d be good at it. You’re both controlling and disapproving.”

Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 3/10/09

Watching CASTLE, the new mystery/romance on ABC, the first mystery that sprang to mind was, “Why isn’t this show called MURDER, HE WROTE?” I mean a mystery writer who solves deadly real-life mysteries? At one point, Castle laments that the reason he killed off the star of his successful string of best-sellers was because he saw no more surprises in the stories; he knew every scene that was coming up. Ironically, that’s also the problem here: CASTLE is a by-the-numbers MOONLIGHTING riff crossed with a standard sleuth storyline, ladled with standard-issue family “complications.” Rick has a hot-to-trot mother (See? Senior citizens have pep!) who behaves like she just escaped from a road production of GOLDEN GIRLS, and a snarky 15-year-old daughter with an old soul who parents her Daddy — who is nothing more than a giant child himself. Rick is paired up with a sassy lady detective who is tougher-than-nails and would look like a model if she wore lipstick and got a decent haircut. Of course they are the “Will they/won’t they?” couple, and she’s the competent authority figure who dismisses him as “a 9-year-old on a sugar rush.” CASTLE relies entirely — and I mean entirely — on Nathan Fillion’s boundless charm. Luckily, Fillion oozes charisma and cannot help commanding every scene he’s in with a personal magnetism that makes you forget he’s basically playing Jessica Fletcher. Of course, I’m sure he likes to think he’s a playing a better-behaved version of Capt. Mal Reynolds, the space rogue from FIREFLY/Serenity. Stana Katic (ex-Hanna, HEROES) is just playing a stereotype so far, so she is, by definition, “no fun,” and it will take longer to warm up to her. Does CASTLE have the time? I hope so, because Fillion should be on TV more than stopping by ONE LIFE TO LIVE every few years.

I would have thought that DANCING WITH THE STARS would have an easier time signing…y’know, stars, but the show seems content to settle for niche celebrities. Perhaps the biggest name they had, Jewel, dropped out due to injury, leaving NFL legend Lawrence Taylor as the big cheese — although the show’s target audience is unlikely to recognize the greatest linebacker who ever played the game. No, most viewers will no doubt be buzzing about emergency-replacement Melissa Rycroft, risking life, limb and self-respect fresh off her national humiliation on THE BACHELOR.

HEROES turned in another uneven episode last night — but I think that was a good thing, because the end was better than the beginning. The reappearance of Doyle at the end of last week turned out to be a false alarm, as “Rebel” had sent Doyle to Claire to be protected. Appealing to an old enemy for protection is a hoary soap cliché, but riffing on prepackaged ideas is sort of HEROES’ thing. Its narrow worldview is reflected in the way the show keeps repeating itself with visions of nuclear holocaust, time travel, obnoxious new characters, and beating to death the “How do you stop an exploding man?” trope. The latter was a key element of the show, as Matt was wired with explosives — like he had painted — and had to be saved by Nathan, who always seems to draw the short straw when an exploding man needs to be stopped.

The other key element of the night was Sylar’s search for his biological father, Samson Gray, was played by John Glover — SMALLVILLE’s bad daddy, Lionel Luthor himself. Samson the taxidermist was the kind of cancer patient who smokes and doesn’t fear the Reaper. And, naturally, Daddy has a power: He can take abilities, too. When he saw that Sylar/Gabriel possessed Claire’s healing power, he decided to steal it and cure his lung cancer. I thought it was intriguing the way Samson appeared to focus his powers by whistling. Sylar was able to turn the tables on Daddy and walked out on the man who had walked out on him all those years ago. Want to know what surprised me about the whole sequence? Sylar slaughtering the rabbit to be stuffed. When he killed that bunny, I’ll bet a lot of fangirls who were willing to forgive Sylar for cracking open the skulls of any number of people were mortified. It was a brave story choice, and perhaps the only way to restore Sylar to the bad old days when he was a faceless killer, not matinee idol Zachary Quinto. Speaking of killers, Danko made his move against Nathan, who pushed back by going directly to the president. After being fired, Danko decided the easiest way to learn whether Nathan can fly would be to just throw him out a window. (Gotta love the direct approach.) So now Danko knows Nathan has an ability. What will happen? I predict that HRG will counterpunch by discovering that Danko himself has a power, forcing the Hunter to go away while Noah takes over the Hero-hunting program.

Meanwhile, Noah’s daughter, Claire, took a job at Sam’s comic book shop in what can only be a bid to reconnect with the lapsed fanboy market. What comics geek doesn’t dream of walking into his local shop for the new Wednesday comics and seeing Hayden Panettiere behind the counter? But Claire must have another job — one that would help her get a new identity for Doyle. Where did all those false documents come from? True, Sandra showed her how to make a fake driver’s license last week; maybe the lesson also included other documentation. Or maybe Claire ordered them from the ads in the back of a comic book…