No more SJA

It appears official. The Sarah Jane Smith Adventures will cease production due to the death of lead actress Elisabeth Sladen.

There are no current plans for the character to regenerate or replace Sarah Jane with a long-lost relation to carry on in the role her passing created.

There is no word yet on how the SJA series itself will end but six episodes have already been filmed and are in post-production. If the show ends with other than a farewell to Ms. Sladen then I speculate the final episode will have something to do with the TARDIS and Sarah Jane departing off-screen for an adventure. And if the Doctor is going to make an appearance for the sake of closure I’d really prefer it to be Tenant over Smith.

Goodbye, Elisabeth Sladen

The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it’s a world or a relationship, everything has its time. And everything ends. – Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith (April 2006).

The big news in entertainment and SF fandom today is the passing of actress Elisabeth Sladen from cancer. Miss Sladen is probably best known the world over as the long-running companion of the nigh-immortal Time Lord in the Doctor Who television series. As Sarah Jane Smith, Elisabeth Sladen portrayed her character in terms that reflected the emerging Women’s Liberation Movement and when the story and producers allowed did more than scream and wait for rescue as was more typical of entertainment of the era.

There are a few reasons that Sarah Jane Smith returned to the series again and again. Her original appearances took place during an era of immense popularity for the show and Elisabeth Sladen as an actress had much to offer. Her story as a companion was perhaps the saddest of the many that crossed paths with The Doctor. Abandoned in the wrong town when the Time Lord was called away on a mission Sarah Jane spent years pining for her previous exciting life, waiting for someone who would possibly never return. Her story continued in the 2006 episode of the revived Doctor Who series where it was revealed that her life had been on hold for over thirty years. She eventually found happiness as her story continued in her own spin-off series.
Since the 5th season of the Sarah Jane Adventures was in the process of being filmed when Sladen passed away the future of the series is in doubt. Undoubtedly the prospect of regeneration is on the table for her character. Anyone associated with the franchises that did not even consider having Sarah Jane regenerate in a similar fashion to The Doctor, allowing a new actress to step into the role should be fired and never be allowed to work in entertainment again. However, my preference would be to let Sarah Jane Smith pass with Elisabeth Sladen. As much as I enjoy any entry to the Who universe being left behind to time is the fate of the companion. The Doctor to his sadness and regret is eternal when his friends are not.
Sarah Jane will probably return eventually, even if it takes another three decades (though the advances in CGI will probably allow her to return, in realistic fashion, much earlier). I doubt that thirty years hence anyone will be excited should Rose return for a Very Special Episode but I would come out from behind the couch to see a Sarah Jane Smith adventure again.

Who?

Got sent this yesterday by a pal who works at BBC America (he/she is the one who gets me all those awesome DVDs for the new UK shows). if true, all I can say is: Holy. Crap.

From the press release:

Who Is Johnny Depp?

International film star Johnny Depp has been confirmed to play the part of time traveling Doctor Who in the big screen treatment of the same name slated for a Summer 2012 release. The wildly successful science fantasy television program Doctor Who has been a staple of British TV since the early 1960s. Syndicated internationally, the show about an exiled Lord of Time has seen a resurgence in recent years, particularly among the audiences of the United States where the show has enjoyed high-ratings on BBC America and the SyFy Channel.

Long-time producer of the television series Russell T. Davies reported that the reason he moved on from the show was due to the opportunity to transform the Doctor to the big screen. “Bringing the Who franchise to the theaters is a regeneration for the character beyond the usual one. A theatrical release has a greater range and can reach millions of more people than just the fans. There will be brand new concepts and the film will be just as adventurous, scary and humorous as the television programme. But none of us working the film will forget what makes the character great and interesting and the long-time fans will not be disappointed because yes, the Daleks make an appearance.”

In a telephone interview actor Johnny Depp was brief about the project due to contractual obligations, however he revealed some choice plot twists: “The Doctor will absolutely have a serious romance. I can not reveal who my co-star is yet but I’m told she is a strong, lovely actress that everyone knows and is perfect for the part.” Johnny Depp revealed one other aspect of the Doctor, that of his secret past: “The Doc is always portrayed as this mysterious Demi-God. Russell has penned this wonderful, exciting script that humanizes this all-powerful alien. The Doctor is actually given a name in the film, I’m told he never really has one. He also acts like a Physician in more than just his title. He’s called The Doctor for a reason. His mission is to journey through time and space with a crew of volunteers treating humanity’s illnesses brought on by invading aliens. He cures the bubonic plague and then goes to Africa to fight Ebola. The film will be very human and relevant and have a great message.”

Doctor Who begins filming in 2011 for a Summer 2012 release.

Who, Iron Man and links

Movies: Went and watched the Iron Man 2 movie the other day and it was a fun time. The movie isn’t as good in my opinion as the first but I still liked it. In fact, I liked it enough to take the time to ad the awesome Sam Rockwell to the poster. It’s a crime he was left off it.

My main complaint, and one which applies to nearly every Marvel super-hero movie made in the last decade, is that the story once again was all about someone creating a mess and being hailed a hero for cleaning up after themselves. For some reason Hollywood seems almost incapable of making a comic book film that doesn’t involve a threat from within and/or a relative of the antagonist.

The other problem I have is with armored fighters in particular who remove their protective head gear during battle. I’m sure this is done for the purpose of the story and sometimes due to contractual obligations for the actor to get so many minutes of screen time (Yes, I’m looking at you, Toby McGuire). But it still bugs me and has for some time. But then I guess if they didn’t show the audience their faces from time to time then the film would be nothing but voice-over work with CGI and actors nodding their helmets as they pretended to speak like a super-ninja from Power Rangers.

I agree the Mandarin needs to make an appearance as the villain in the next film. I don’t see that character as a racist sterotype as much as some do. It is probably a knee-jerk PC reaction to the name and the fact that the character has an origin during the Red-baiting days of Stan Lee being at the helm of the Marvel books. I think the company has redeemed the Mandarin as a viable character not only from the animated movie of a year or so ago but also in the classic Fin Fang Foom storyline from the comic book. No longer a Commie, just a megalomaniac who wants to use the trappings of the past to secure power in the present day.

I don’t see the Ten Rings mentioned in the film being the magical or technological rings from the comic book series. That would be hard to accomplish and not look silly. More than likely the rings will turn out to be a family symbol of some kind or the crest of a branch of a guild. A film from years ago that featured a Thugee cult as the villains had the members being awarded a ring to place on the hilt of their murder-dagger every time they passed a stage in their training. Eventually the rings would complete the hilt and when held up to the light, the shadow cast by the rings on the handle would show a profile of the leader of the cult. Maybe the Ten Rings would turn out to be be something like that.

DVD: Re-watched Real Genius. Such a great and funny 80s movie. Liked Val Kilmer (how the mighty have fallen!) irked by the kid. Still inappropriately attracted to the weird girl.

Re-watched Night Shift. In my opinion Henry Winkler did his best job ever in front of the camera for this comedy though a pre-Cheers Shelly Long and then new-comer Michael Keaton stole the film. Fav quotes: “That Barney Rubble. What an actor!” and not to forget “Hello, this is Chuck to remind Bill to SHUT UP!”

Comic Books: Slight yet geeky Iron Man movie spoiler! The stunt of “crossing the streams“? Iron Man first did that way back in Avengers Annual #6 (1976).


Television: The up-coming television series Terra Nova is getting a lot of internet press lately. Many are comparing it to The Land of the Lost because of the time-travel element in which a family is thrown back to the dinosaur age. From what I’m reading it sounds more like Jurassic Park but without all the messy licensing and contractual issues. I’m looking forwards to watching it. Even if it is terrible some SF is better than no SF. I’m tired of the long periods in which the best science fiction on TV is contained in car commercials.

Doctor Who: Been watching episodes of the Jon Pertwee interpretation of the Doctor recently. His version is full of humor and honest horror. Not a lot of running but a heck of a lot of shouting and yelling.

The new Doctor played by Matt Smith is fresh, the fans are negative goofs and so far the show is keen to watch. Vampires of Venice was notable for one trait of the Doctor that a lot of people miss because they always accept him as some sort of super-hero. The Doc, as much as he meddles, would stand by and watch (albeit with sadness) if the entirety of humanity were killed and eaten by aliens if that were the natural order of things. He gets involved usually only when the characters are evil, monstrous and get a thrill when applying their rapacious ways.

Lost: Enjoying this show. Can’t wait for the climax. Dread the inevitable very special Lost Christmas Reunion Special in 2020.

Fringe: This is the show I’m most excited about right now. Waiting a week for each new episode is painful. But if I had the power to cancel the show with extreme prejudice I would have done so after that storyteller/noir episode a few weeks back. That was nearly unwatchable. Happily the next episode redeemed it. I’m a sucker for alternate universe stories and the appearance of Walternate totally nailed.

Toys: 30 years ago I would have killed for an Iron Man toy. Fortunately nowadays I can avoid the moral implications of murder and jail time by a visit to the mall and about 6 bucks. Yesterday I picked up the classic comic series toy for my desk. It is cool. This Iron Man game I may get just because it is silly.

Immigrant 1/American Citizen 0: It bears repeating that they man who called in the failed Times Square car bomb planted by an American citizen of Muslim faith was an immigrant from Senegal who is also of the Muslim faith. The media however is continuing to demonize the naturalized citizen and has made little or no mention that the hero of this tale has the same basic religious philosophy as the bad guy. The more I read about Shahzad the more he comes off as an bitter loser and there are no shortage of people ready to take advantage and use someone like that. A second well-deserved tip of the hat to Samurai Frog.

Art: The news that Frank Frazetta died sure sheds some light on the fight going on between his son and the rest of the family. It will probably be some time before fans find out if the various members of his family was fighting to protect his legacy or being greedy poopy-heads. Conan vs. the Man-Ape is one of my favorite illustrations from one of my favorite Howard stories.