Orphan Black Post-Game: Parts Developed In An Unusual Manner

obI don’t know if any of you guys caught the season finale of Community last week, where the writers capped off an awful season by nearly destroying the darkest timeline by bringing the darker characters into the normal world. It’s a good example of the perils of having actors play against themselves via technical wizardry. In Orphan Black, I have to actively remind myself that Tatiana Maslany is the only actress playing these completely different clone characters. And while it’s obvious from scene to scene as the focus switches over from Sarah’s story to Cosima’s story, whenever Maslany shares the screen with herself, it’s a treat to watch and consistently blows my mind.

The best example in “Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner” is the dive diner lunch date between Sarah and the clone-killer Helena, who marvels at the niceness of the restaurant as she pours sugar on top of her Jell-o. Sarah is hard-boiled and no nonsense, while Helena is childlike in her inability to appear normal around grown-ups. She grew up in a Ukranian convent that saved her from abandonment  She’s now under the rather harsh care of whoever Tomas ends up being. He continues trying to convince Helena she is the original, and I’m not sure if it’s just to give her a superiority complex or what.

Instead of going for the ramped-up situational drama that last week’s episode zigged and zagged through, this episode’s pacing is guided by the editing, which stitches together a bunch of smaller scenes that bring everything together in the end. And while there’s a lot of info-dumping and talking, much of it is important information.


Defiance Gets A Second Season From Syfy

DefianceWe may only be part of the way through the inaugural season of Syfy’s new series Defiance, but that didn’t stop the network from reupping for a second season.

The order for a 13-episode second season follows on the heels of the second-highest-rated premiere in the network’s history. Defiance debuted to an audience of more than four million viewers. In the weeks following the unveiling, the numbers have remained strong, averaging in excess of two million viewers per week, and winning its Monday night timeslot for the show’s key demographic.

Set in a future world, Defiance tells the story of a world where aliens have landed on Earth, looking for a new home. After a long, destructive war with the human race, they have begun to integrate into human society. You can imagine that this might be a bumpy ride, as different species attempt to learn to get along with each other in post-apocalyptic frontier. The bulk of the series takes place in the ruins of St. Louis, renamed Defiance, and follows Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his adopted alien daughter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas).


Researchers Create An Airborne Hybrid Flu Virus, Happy Monday

VirusFrom today’s “this is a bad idea” file comes the news from China that a team of researchers have created a new hybrid flu virus. If that isn’t fun enough, the new bug can go airborne and spread from mammal to mammal. Did no one see Contagion or 12 Monkeys, or read any of the ever-increasing number of terrifying nonfiction books about the potential for worldwide pandemics? Hell, much of the recent zombie paranoia ties back into fear of disease.

The scientists mixed genes from the H5N1 virus with those from the strain H1N1, which was responsible for the 2009 swine flu epidemic. This new concoction has been shown capable of spreading between guinea pigs.

The whole purpose behind this move is to show that, despite the hype surrounding the current outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in China, other avian flus such as H5N1 still pose a substantial threat of global pandemic. It is also possible that two different types of viruses could combine naturally. While there is no evidence that H5N1 and H1N1 have come together, this experiment shows that hybrids like this are a viable risk. These two strains overlap geographically and in the type of animals they infect. While H5N1 tends only to associate with its own kind, “the pandemic H1N1 strain seems to be particularly prone to reassortment.”


Shinji Aramaki’s Space Pirate Captain Harlock Gets A Lengthy Trailer

If you’ve been paying attention, it feels like we’ve been waiting forever for the animated adaptation of Space Pirate Captain Harlock. Well, I don’t know how much closer we are to seeing an English release of the film from Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed), but this new trailer is pretty badass.

This new video may be overlong, and may look like the cut scene from a recent videogame, but the whole thing is totally worth it for those shots of the space ship Arcadia bursting, silver skull first, out of the dense space fog.


Simon Pegg Dishes About Pranks On The Set Of Star Trek Into Darkness

Oh those wacky celebrities, they get up to such mischief.

By all appearances, J.J. AbramsStar Trek Into Darkness is going to be a pretty serious affair. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is going to go through all manner of hardships, troubles, and general bad times. Despite the somber tone of their work, that didn’t stop the cast and crew from engaging in on-set shenanigans during production. Simon Pegg, who reprises his role as chief engineer Scotty, recently stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live and spilled the beans about one particularly in-depth, far-reaching gag.

Apparently, he took to telling fellow actors that, while on set, they needed to wear “neutron cream” in order to protect themselves from ambient radiation. Pegg’s first victim was Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk, who he then recruited him to help target Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov. The actor who fell most deeply into their trap, however, was Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the villainous John Harrison. By the time he arrived on set, the entire cast and crew was seemingly in on the joke. Poor guy never had a chance.


Trekking Backwards With Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

NeedsOfTheManyYesterday I rewatched Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a flick I’ve only seen maybe three times in my life prior to that viewing. Needless to say, the first Star Trek feature doesn’t exactly hold a special place in my heart. When it comes to today’s entry, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the complete opposite is true. Along with Trek IV, Enemy Mine, and 2010, it was in more or less constant VHS rotation throughout my childhood. Revisiting it now, in such close proximity to The Motion Picture, it’s startling how much more effective it is, both as a standalone movie and as a representative adventure for Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest.

One thing that struck me almost immediately is something that was largely missing from The Motion Picture, but which I didn’t notice except by comparison. Namely, The Wrath of Khan is funny. Not the swing-for-the-fences goofiness of Trek IV, but simply the character-based humor that comes naturally from the Enterprise crew when they’re being written well. The Motion Picture is a really dour enterprise — ahem — and takes everything so seriously that it’s largely missing the sense of fun and adventurous spirit that makes the best of Trek work. Especially the core triad of Kirk, Spock, and Bones, it’s amazing how much more they seem like themselves in Trek II, with the three of them bickering and needling each other good-naturedly, like the old friends we know them to be. Comparatively, The Motion Picture seems like the crew is in the middle of a wake the entire time.