BBC announce 11th Doctor – Matt Smith [updated]


The BBC announced today that the 11th Doctor will be British Actor Matt Smith. He will replace David Tennant who will leave Doctor Who after four special episodes in 2009.

Wikipedia:

Smith did not go to Drama school but was a former member of the National Youth Theatre. His performance in The Master and Margarita secured him an agent leading on to his first professional performance in Fresh Kills opposite Christian Slater [3]. Further roles came as he appeared in On the Shore of the Wide World before then moving on with co-stars Thomas Morrison and Steven Webb to Alan Bennet‘s History Boys.

After History Boys he moved into television appearing in the BBC adaptations of The Ruby In The Smoke and The Shadow in the North alongside Billie Piper, then as Danny Foster in the BBC TV series Party Animals.

In January 2009, his casting was announced as the Eleventh Doctor in the long running BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, taking over from David Tennant in 2010.

It’s interesting to see what he has worked with Doctor Who alumni Billie Piper several times in the past.

From the BBC press release:

Matt Smith said of his new role “I’m just so excited about the journey that is in front of me. It’s a wonderful privilege and challenge that I hope I will thrive on. I feel proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity to join a team of people that has worked so tirelessly to make the show so thrilling.

“David Tennant has made the role his own, brilliantly with grace, talent and persistent dedication. I hope to learn from the standards set by him. The challenge for me is to do justice to the show’s illustrious past, my predecessors and most importantly to those who watch it. I really cannot wait.”

See his IMDB profile.

See the BBC press release.

Stargate Atlantis Cancelled

Woah. Just as Stargate Atlantis season 5 begins to air on Sky One in the UK, we have news that Stargate Atlantis will not be renewed for a sixth season.

Gateworld reports that Atlantis will screen it’s final and 100th episode “Enemy At the Gate” in January in the USA. It will then conclude with a two-hour movie with the possibility of more movies if the first is successful.

SG-1 Onion Face Project
Creative Commons License photo: Steve Webel

At 100 episodes, Atlantis will have screened two more episodes than Star Trek: Enterprise but falls well short of SG-1’s 214 episode run.

It’s not all bad news for Stargate fans. Producer Joseph Mallozzi has said there could be three or four Stargate movies a year based on the SG-1 and Atlantis franchises. And the third Stargate series I’ve mentioned in the past has been given the green light. It’ll premiere in summer 2009 with a two-hour movie.

According to a SCIFI Channel press release:

After unlocking the mystery of the Stargate’s ninth chevron, a team of explorers travels to an unmanned starship called the Destiny, launched by The Ancients at the height of their civilization as a grand experiment set in motion, but never completed.

What starts as a simple reconnaissance turns into a never ending mission, as the Stargate Universe crew discovers the ship is unable to return to Earth, and they must now fend for themselves aboard the Destiny.

The crew will travel to the far reaches of the universe, connecting with each of the previously launched Stargates, thus fulfilling the Destiny’s original mission. Challenges will arise though as the ship comes into range of Stargates placed centuries ahead of the Destiny and the crew is unable to control the ship’s navigational schedule. If someone is left behind, there is no way to go back for them, adding to the drama of encountering new races, enemies and adventures.

To be honest, I have been getting a bit bored with Atlantis lately so this doesn’t come to me as too much of a disappointment. With Universe, the producers say they will re-invent the format “in a whole new way”. Perhaps this will breathe some new life into the franchise.

UFOs & Why Aliens Haven't Made Contact

Hi guys! I’m back in England… I spent the last two weeks in sunny America and had the delight of seeing Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon as well as spending July 4th in America (odd being British and in America on Independence Day but there goes). You’ve been treated to a couple of scheduled posts over the last two weeks; hopefully we’ll be back to full operation soon!

Hovering Lights
Creative Commons License photo: Todd Huffman

When I was in America, I had plenty of opportunity to experience the wonders of American cable television (which also seems to have a ridiculous number of commercial breaks).

I saw a discussion programme about UFOs and there was a theory about UFOs and why “aliens” haven’t yet made contact which I thought was pretty concieved and quite funny.

Now, the standard theory about UFOs is that they are aliens of extra-terrestrial origin. They crash landed at Roswell and the government has been covering it up ever since, either because they feel we are not ready to know or because the military feel it is a tactical advantage to keep such information secret.

They’re actually time travelling humans…

The theory put across by one contributor to the TV show was that they are not actually aliens, but humans from the future. They believe that time travel was discovered in the Philadelphia Experiment. The laws of physics don’t actually prevent time travel; they are apparently possible using wormholes. Some people have claimed to have made small particles travel in time. It is perfectly conceivable that a time travel device could be constructed in the future for humans or spacecraft. This time travel device might arguably be easier than a civilisation developing the capabilities to traverse great distances to make contact with extra-terrestrial civilisations (in this case, us). They argue that UFOs are actually time travellers from the future who have come back to prevent us from making big mistakes which would impact the future (like the temporal agents of “Star Trek: Enterprise”).

The reasons why we can never know the truth about UFOs is because if we know, we’d change the future. We might panic and destroy ourselves.

Why has it been documented that people in circumstances where they might experience more stress (e.g. during Wars) see more UFOs? Psychologists say that these people are more likely to “imagine” or make up stories about being abducted by aliens. But theorists say it’s because those are also the occasions are the ones which we might need more help to stop us from doing what is wrong.

Invaders
Creative Commons License photo: Jami Dwyer

If there are indeed aliens swarming around in UFOs everywhere, why aren’t there more documented cases, especially with the number of camera phones around these days? Because the future human in their UFOs wouldn’t visit us unless there was something in history to correct.

I thought this was a totally genius theory because it manages to answer why the governments can’t disclose anything about UFOs and the paradoxes of believing UFOs are of extra-terrestrial origin as well as finding a solution for a paradox of time travel.

I thought it was certainly a rather interesting, although rather concieved theory for the origin UFOs. Of course, I’m very skeptical about it as am I about the existance of UFOs. The beauty of the theory is it can’t be disproved. But I’m sure that my future self will be able to come back in time and stop me from making this post to prevent me from the embarrassment of having to admit I’m wrong.

A Utopian Star Trek Society – Making Economics Redundant

les années sans lumiere
Creative Commons License photo: izarbeltza

The society of Star Trek invented by Gene Roddenberry is sometimes held up by fans as something we should strive towards. In the Star Trek universe, they don’t use money: people strive towards bettering themselves and humanity. Doesn’t that sound like communism to you?

If we tried to apply these principles in our world today, it certainly wouldn’t work. That’s been demonstrated in communism. Money is a much better way to carry out transactions than bartering: with bartering there needs to be a double-coincidence of wants. A baker may barter a few loaves of bread in exchange for a haircut with a hairdresser. Now, the baker only needs his hair cut once every month or two. Between haircuts, the hairdresser has nothing to barter and thus cannot have any bread on the table.

As for striving towards bettering ourselves and humanity? It doesn’t work in communism: communism gives people incentives to do as little as possible as they aren’t individually rewarded. Free-market economics (or capitalism) works simply because it gives people individual incentives to work and perform better: wages for workers, profits for companies and dividends for shareholders. Economics uses the fact that people act in their own self-interest to lead to an optimal outcome for society. I’d argue that economics is the single most important invention ever: one which paved the way for science, technology and pretty much every single aspect of life we experience today.

I was watching Visions of the Future on the BBC the other day and it did lead me to wonder whether we might be on the verge of this Star Trek age where we might be able to do without money. There are two bits of technology which I believe would allow this to happen.

totality bites
Creative Commons License photo: mugley

First of all, nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion promises to be an abundant source of energy which is inexhaustible. Limitless and pollution-free, nuclear fusion could render the assumption of scarcity in economics out of date (that society doesn’t have enough resources to meet human wants). With an infinite amount of energy, we could do anything: mitigate global warming, travel to other planets, whatever we like.

Secondly, molecular assemblers or “replicators” as they are known in Star Trek. The development of replicators depends on further research into nanotechnology but the promise is that they can produce more or less anything at the touch of a button by constructing objects atom by atom. The only limitations would be the amount of energy required to replicate the objects and knowing what we want to produce with them.

Many scientists believe that nuclear fusion and molecular assemblers are both viable technologies and may only be about 50 years away.

In a world with limitless energy and the means to create anything that we wanted, nothing is scarce. We could immediately create anything that we want in order to fulfill our wants and needs. And it’s that fact which would render economics redundant. If everything costs nothing to make, why would you need money?

Passage
Creative Commons License photo: fdecomite

So what would be the effect of such technologies on society? Wealth is more or less meaningless and there is no reason for money to exist, so there will be no such things as city stock traders or economists. In fact, anyone working in the primary and secondary sectors would be made redundant by replicators. The important people in such a society would be the scientists and engineers: in a world where we aren’t limited by resources, we are only limited by our ideas. Scientists and engineers are the people who will come up with those new ideas.

At first glance, the utopian society as described in ‘Star Trek’ can seem like a communist society which would never function in the real world. I believe that today we are beginning to see the glimpses of technology which would bring society into a new age where we are no longer constrained by resources, scarcity and economics. The only constraints would be our ideas and dreams. Gene Roddenberry’s dream of our futuristic society might not seem so farfetched afterall.

Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds

A friend of mine recently sent me a few videos from the musical version of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds: an absolutely stunning musical based on the HG Wells’ book. Some of you might be familiar with Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds album which is 30 years old this year.

The musical starts with the song Eve of the War and two other notable songs include Forever Autumn and The Spirit of Man and features Justin Hayward, Tara Blaise and of course Russell Watson who is also responsible for the Star Trek: Enterprise theme tune 🙂

The tour was really well produced. There is an huge orchestra on stage and the production perfectly blends stage action with computer generated films and giant 3D robots which shoot laser beams into the audience.

I strongly urge people to get the DVD of the live tour, recorded at Wembley Arena, which is simply stunning. And for those of us who didn’t manage to go to the live tour earlier this year, there is good news! Jeff Wayne writes on the official forums:

This new year, for TWOTW, will be quite active again – the 30th Anniversary of the release of the original recording looms, (30 years, incredible!) and there are some new special projects being planned to help celebrate that event, for release commencing around June. We also expect to announce a third UK tour during that period for sometime early 2009, which will hopefully have, yet again, a number of new and exciting ingredients that take our live show to even greater heights – a true Mark 3 version.

Stargate Continuum

Gateworld has a review of Stargate Continuum, the upcoming Stargate SG-1 film which is released to DVD on July 29th. Gateworld calls it the best Stargate (film or TV show) in years and possibly of all time. Plot according to Wikipedia:

While SG-1 attends the execution of Ba’al, the last of the Goa’uld System Lords, Teal’c and Vala inexplicably disappear into thin air. Carter, Daniel and Mitchell race back to a world where history has been changed: the Stargate program has been erased from the timeline. As they try to convince the authorities what’s happened, a fleet of Goa’uld motherships arrives in orbit, led by Ba’al, his queen, Qetesh (Vala), and his first prime, Teal’c. The remaining SG-1 members must find the Stargate and set things right before the world is enslaved by the Goa’uld.

The upcoming film had a budget of $7 million, will feature Richard Dean Anderson and producers hope it’ll spawn a series of follow-up movies.

  • Season 2 of Heroes starts on BBC Two on Thursday 24th April at 9pm. This will be the first time season 2 has been shown in the UK so we’re all pretty excited!
  • This year’s finale to Torchwood sure was something. It was by far better than the first season and I thought the last episode was very powerful. Digital Spy has a review.
  • Season 4 of Doctor Who just got under way. I was a bit unsure about Donna (Catherine Tate) as a new assistant but I think she’s done a great job so far! Author of “The God Delusion” Richard Dawkins will feature in this series of Doctor Who.

Stargate Universe: New Stargate Series

About this time last year, people started talking about Stargate Universe and I speculated on what it could be about. Well, more information about the series has now been released!

The new series is still in a concept stage but the series is based on a ship which was part of an Ancient experiment – an experiment which was set in motion millions of years ago. The experiment is to send two ships across the universe: The first ship seeds galaxies with Stargates. A second ship then follows up and uses those Stargates to explore the galaxies. The ninth chevron is to get to that ship. The experiment was never started/completed because the Ancients got busy ascending.

Sounds complicated. However it’s possible that the series won’t materialise for a couple of years yet. It has already been delayed by the writers strike in America, is fairly expensive to produce and producer Brad Wright has indicated that he isn’t anxious to return to a schedule of filming 40 hours of television a year. My thoughts are that “Universe” is unlikely to begin until Atlantis or at least the SG-1 movies have concluded.

I must admit though, I can’t say I’m particularly excited about the sounds of this series. Atlantis has done the whole Ancients thing and SG-1 and Atlantis have both become more ship-based towards the recent years. Of course I’m not privy to all the details but it’s definitely not a huge departure from what we’ve already seen.

Stargate SG-1: The Ark of Truth

After the cancellation of Stargate SG-1, it was decided that SG-1 would be finished off with two movies: The Ark of Truth which would wrap up the Ori storyline and Continuum which will have some time travel and all that malarkey. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to seeing The Ark of Truth, especially as it’s a movie: it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s a lot more epic than the TV series given the larger budget.

According to Gateworld, it’ll be aired in the UK on Sky One on Wednesday 26th March at 8pm. It’ll then go onto DVD for the 14th April.

The Ark of Truth stars SG-1‘s Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Claudia Black, and Beau Bridges in a story that spans the galaxies. With our own galaxy under seige by the armies of the Ori — powerful ascended beings who demand worship from “lower” life forms — SG-1 must take the Odyssey through the Supergate into the enemy’s own territory. There they hope to find a device created by the Ancients millennia ago, which they hope will stop the Ori worshipers from killing millions of innocents.

For the Americans, it’ll come out on DVD on Tuesday 11th March. I’d be really interested in hearing from the Stargate fans who read this blog what they think of “The Ark of Truth” when they see it!

Looking forward to it!

Martha Jones Axed from Doctor Who?

According to The Sun, Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) has been axed from Doctor Who for weak performances in later episodes.

DOCTOR Who actress Freema Agyeman has been axed from the next series, The Sun can reveal.

And they are planning a storyline where the Doctor, played by David Tennant, will lose her and travel through the universe searching for her.

The decision to dump Freema comes as a bolt from the blue after her performance for the first couple of episodes was praised.

Make of this what you will; remembering The Sun was also the source of the rumour that David Tennant was leaving Doctor Who.

Now, there have already been some hints Martha isn’t a proper assistant… you’ve seen how they’ve mentioned shes just tagging along for the ride, and in todays episode he asked some other woman to join him. But anyway, it’s all speculation.

Good news though: Captain Jack is back in the 11th episode! 

3rd Stargate Series: "Stargate Universe"

Gateworld reports that the third series of Stargate has the working title "Stargate Universe" and that it will deal with the ninth chevron.

Gateworld

The new series has been conceived to be "a completely separate, third entity," Cooper said in an interview — "much more so than Atlantis was. Atlantis was much more of a spin-off seires of SG-1 and was sort of born out of SG-1."

Like many of the producers ideas, Cooper said, the idea for Stargate Universe was originally conceived as a stand-alone movie. "When we originally were sitting around talking about this we were trying to come up with ideas for a Stargate feature — not an SG-1 feature or an Atlantis feature, but a feature that would fit into the Stargate franchise that we feel we have created," Cooper said. "We were thinking, ‘How do we create a third arm to the franchise that is very connective and that fans will feel is born out of the material that has come before, but at the same time is very much something that stands alone?’

What We Know

  • Targeted for early 2008
  • Ninth Chevron plays big role in series
  • Will be separate from SG-1 and Atlantis, rather than spin-offs.
  • Will be gate-based rather than ship-based
  • Will be set in the present; will not be a prequel or a sequel
  • Will relate to existing mythology but will have separate storylines
  • Will have a team on adventures (presumably a team from Earth)

The Name

My first reaction when I saw the name "Stargate Universe" was really of shock. It’s a terrible name, almost something you’d expect from a children’s television programme. It doesn’t really seem to capture any of the magic but it is only a working title so may change. 

The Ninth Chevron 

We know that the show will involve the 9th chevron. It has been hotly debated amongst fans of what this chevron does. 

We know that most gate addresses use 7 chevrons. The 8th chevron is used to add an extra distance calculation like a area dialing code; it was required to travel to Atlantis and the Asgard galaxy. The name "Universe" implies that the show will perhaps be set in a much larger area than SG-1 which is set in the Milky Way, and Atlantis which is set in the Pegasus galaxy. The 9th chevron perhaps will add yet another distance calculation – like an international dialing code.

Some have suggested the 9th chevron could account for time or parallel universes. The first is unlikely, as the show is set in the present, and the producers of Stargate have made it quite clear that they don’t want to dabble with time travel, causality.

The second is a possibility. We know that the idea for Stargate Universe originally was for a movie. It’s quite easy to imagine a movie which is set in a parallel universe. However, there is already a quantum mirror to travel between universes. Effects such as the entropic cascade failure have already been established. And the title of the series is Universe, singular, not Universes.

My bet would be on the 9th chevron being an additional distance calculation. 

Mythology 

We also know that the show ties into existing mythology. So the chances are, the Ancients will come into it somehow. The whole Ancients storyline has been done in Atlantis and the Ori have been done to death and finished in SG-1. It’s hard to imagine a series which will be able to relate to the Ancients again, without having it tie in to existing story lines in SG1/Atlantis. 

Stargate also has a lot of mythology about the Goa’uld, but as far as we’re concerned they’ve been finished off. But it’s possible there could still be Goa’uld around, who have perhaps worked out how to use the ninth chevron, and escape to another galaxy. Then again, coming back to the Goa’uld could make a very, very tedious TV show. 

Movie Tie-In?

The original plan was for one of the SG-1 movies to "dovetail" into the third series. We know of two SG-1 movies at the moment:

The Ark of Truth, where SG-1 travels to the Ori home galaxy in an attempt to stop their onslaught.

Continuum, where the timeline has been altered, meaning the Stargate programme never existed.

It is unlikely a movie could be spun from Continuum. In some ways, it would provide a reset button and allow us to go back to the mythology of the original movie. This is unlikely, and certainly discovering the ninth chevron when the Stargate programme doesn’t even exist. Then again, if the ninth chevron travels between universes…

More likely, a third series could be launched from The Ark of Truth. There would be opportunities for tie-ins with the Ancients storyline, and presumably the Ori will be destroyed, leaving a whole galaxy to be explored.

Just Speculation

Of course, we know very little about the third series, and it’s all speculation.