Thursday, September 11, 2008

Production has been temporarily halted on Joss Whedon's new television show, Dollhouse, because he felt the scripts for some episodes weren't good enough. He's going to oversee re-writes before production begins again. This won't cause a delay for the show, because it isn't going to debut until January. Earlier, he shot a new first episode, deciding to use the previously filmed pilot as the second episode.

Iron Man director Jon Favreau revealed details of Iron Man 2 at a news conference today. The second film will introduce the Mandarin as the villain, and will also see the character of Rhodey become War Machine. Favreau is considering shooting it in IMAX and/or 3-D. Actor turned screenwriter Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder) is writing the first draft of the screenplay. Iron Man 2 is scheduled for release on April 30, 2010.

After a successful animated spoof of Star Wars last year, Family Guy is at it again with a planned spoof of The Empire Strikes Back, again with the approval of George Lucas.

According to a recent report, Spider-Man 4 is a go with director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire both returning, and a screenplay by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac). Vanderbilt should help the franchise get back on track after Raimi and his brother Ivan (Darkman, Army of Darkness) wrote the script for Spider-Man 3 with mixed results. The studio may also shoot Spider-Man 4 and a planned Spider-Man 5 back-to-back. Look for Spider-Man 4 in May 2011.

20th Century Fox is expanding their list of X-Men spinoff films. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is set for release on May 1, 2009, and a film about a young Magneto is still being developed. Now the slate includes development of a Deadpool film (he'll be played by Ryan Reynolds in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and a film about a team of younger X-Men (New Mutants, perhaps?). The studio might also make a Daredevil sequel.

Campy early 1980s television show The Greatest American Hero is being developed for a big screen remake to be directed by Stephen Herek (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure). I remember watching that way back when.

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This Week's Comics

Doctor Who Classics #10, Final Crisis: Revelations #2, Red Sonja #37, X-Men: Magneto Testament #1, Wolverine: Saudade #1, Patsy Walker: Hellcat #3, Nyx: No Way Home #2, New Exiles #11, Amazing Spider-Girl #24, Wonder Woman #24, Green Arrow and Black Canary #12, Ex Machina #38, 100 Bullets #95, Trinity #15, Batman Confidential #21, BPRD: The Warning #3, The Goon #28.


Review: Fringe, Episode 1.1, "Pilot"

Call me entertained.

Fringe is a new science fiction television show created by J.J. Abrams (creator of Alias and co-creator of Lost) and Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (the writers of Transformers and the upcoming Star Trek film).

It bears a thematic resemblance to The X-Files (incidentally, this episode was broadcast on Tuesday, the day before the 15th anniversary of The X-Files' premiere), but Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman have made their own show. One can see the touches of all three creators: Abrams brings the intrigue and an overarching mystery, while Orci and Kurtzman bring their knack for blending multiple elements (action, romance, humor) into an entertaining whole.

The premise is FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Australian actress Anna Torv) investigates mysterious events with the help of brilliant but mentally ill scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (played by John Noble, best known as Denethor in The Return of the King) and his estranged son Peter (Joshua Jackson).

The first episode, directed by former West Wing and Journeyman producer/director Alex Graves, is quite entertaining and very polished for a pilot episode. Much time and money (reportedly US$10 million) was spent on the pilot episode alone, and combined with its 90-minute running time makes it feel more like a big screen film.

The first new show to debut in the 2008-09 television season lives up to the hype. It might be too slick for some, but it's well-written and well-cast, the two most important ingredients for a successful television show. The behind the scenes staff is also high quality: cinematographer Michael Bonvillain and composer Michael Giacchino worked on Alias and Lost, while production designer Carol Spier is a longtime collaborator with director David Cronenberg on films like The Fly, Naked Lunch, and Eastern Promises.

I can't wait to see where future episodes, shepherded by showrunner Jeff Pinkner (a former staff writer and producer on Alias and Lost), take the characters and the premise.

Edited to add: If you missed it, FOX will repeat this episode on Sunday, September 14th at 8pm, with new episodes to follow every Tuesday at 9pm.


Review: Torchwood: Lost Souls

BBC Radio 4 celebrated the switching on of CERN's Large Hadron Collider with what it dubbed the Big Bang Day. One of the elements of this was a 44-minute Torchwood audio play featuring the television show's regular cast (John Barrowman as Captain Jack, Eve Myles as Gwen, and Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto) and special guest star Freema Agyeman (reprising her Doctor Who-originated role of Dr. Martha Jones).

Writer Joseph Lidster, who scripted one of the stronger episodes of the second season ("A Day in the Death") and is also a veteran author of Doctor Who audio plays, delivers a solid story set sometime after the second season finale, with Team Torchwood still dealing with the tragedy that befell them. When Dr. Martha Jones from UNIT calls them to Switzerland to help her investigate a mystery, can Team Torchwood save the day once again?

Lost Souls is a satisfying entry in the Torchwood mythos. The voice cast is in good form as their familiar characters (successfully making the transition from television), there are chills to be had for the listeners, and it provides some needed closure after the second season finale.

Torchwood: Lost Souls is available as a free mp3 download until September 17th from here.