Da Vinci’s Demons Mucks With History: This Week In Science Fiction

Tom Riley as Leonardo Da VinciDa Vinci’s Demons
Starz, Friday 10/9c

As near as I can tell, this new series from Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer is basically going to be Assassin’s Creed II: The Show. I’m totally okay with that, so I’m hoping the show is good and can help fill the void that’s about to be left by the end of Starz’s Spartacus. Da Vinci’s Demons stars Tom Riley as a young, photogenic Leonardo Da Vinci as we explore the “untold story” of his life as a dashing inventor of things and a man far ahead of his time.

Da Vinci’s Demons is set during his early years in Renaissance Florence, and will have Da Vinci getting involved in all manner of intrigues, conspiracies, and power plays, caught up in the struggle between the schemes of the corrupt, elitist powers that be and his own desire to let reason and knowledge change the world. From the look of things, we’ll get to see plenty of the original Renaissance Man’s more incredible inventions. This is a guy who spent the 15th and 16th centuries conjuring up designs for such seemingly anachronistic creations as parachutes, machine guns, diving suits, and a friggin’ armored tank. If Da Vinci’s Demons can have as much fun with the character as the AC games did, you can bet I’ll be sticking with this one for the long haul.


In Mildly Hypothetical News, Science Funding Cuts Will Ruin America

Cash moneyMuch like the word “douchebag” doesn’t really have a positive meaning, neither does the word “sequester.” It’s bad enough when jury duty is involved, but when it comes to the government gutting science funding, it’s downright angering. Our president wants to spend $100 million on a brain-mapping program, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but seeing as how his own brain has long been overtaken by Washington D.C. and politics in general — and perhaps even before that, if his sci-fi knowledge is considered — I guess it’s no surprise he doesn’t see the immediate dangers of such cutbacks. Cutbacks which will see science funding drop from $140 billion to $130.5 billion.

The largest amount of damage will be dealt to the medical fields, where cancer and Alzheimer’s research will take an immediate hit. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose $31 billion is more than a fifth of the entire amount, is at its lowest funding now since 2002. NIH Director Francis Collins predicts the loss of around 20,000 jobs in the scientific community, which has gone through a cutback-filled decade already.

Much research will go unseen due to a lack of grant funding. The National Science Foundation will probably fund between 800 to 1,000 fewer grants in the next year. Since we’re talking about money and everything, how about the fact that research ends up making things easier and cheaper in the long run? The Department of Defense had a budget of around $700 billion, and while I’m not denying that the D.O.D. certainly deserves a sizable cut of the federal budget, that’s just fucking ridiculous. And they’re not making anything any cheaper for anybody. Probably. Maybe they’re making life cheaper by ending so many of them.


Tom Cruise Will Wake You Up In This Oblivion Clip

How would you react if you woke up out of a deep sleep—we’re talking about a six-decade nap here—and found yourself in a creepy, sterile lab, with Tom Cruise looming over you? Your response might look something like this new clip from Joseph Kosinski’s (Tron: Legacy) new sci-fi adventure, Oblivion.

The video shows Julia (Olga Kurylenko) in that exact scenario. After her spaceship, or pod or whatever, crashes to Earth, Jack Harper (Cruise) rescues her. She regains consciousness in the Skytower, where Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) attempts to poke her with a fancy, futuristic hypodermic needle, presumably loaded with a sedative. As you can imagine, Julia isn’t super psyched about the situation.


Christopher Eccleston Opts Out Of Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

Doctor Who Eccleston

Sorry, kids, but while the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary spectacular promises to be an awesome orgy of nerdiness, at least one face will be conspicuously absent. Turns out that Christopher Eccleston, who played the ninth incarnation of the Time Lord—the first in the modern era—won’t be making an appearance.

This follows the news that his successor to the throne, David Tennant, who filled the role from 2005 through 2010, will drop in for a visit, along with Billie Piper, who played his companion Rose Tyler. The show is currently on its Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith

Eccleston met with showrunner and head writer Steven Moffat multiple times, but they could never come to an accord agreeable to both parties. A spokesperson for BBC said:

Chris met with Steven Moffat a couple of times to talk about Steven’s plans for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode. After careful thought, Chris decided not to be in the episode. He wishes the team all the best.


Orphan Black Post-Game: Instinct


Last week, BBC America’s dramatic thriller Orphan Black premiered in full, throwing everything at viewers, from suicide by train to mysterious clones of differing nationalities to mourning drug dealers, and had it all draped beneath a mysterious veil of sex and black comedy. Looking back, the intrigue and excitement rallied high throughout, but there wasn’t necessarily loads of substance behind the flash and the flashed derrieres. A troubled woman, Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), unwittingly assumes the life of a police officer that looks just like her, an American named Beth, so that she can assume parental duties for a daughter she’d previously abandoned. It’s a plot with a lot of places to go, and it seems as if it’ll get to all of them in the next nine episodes. The premiere ended on a high note, with Katja, a German version of Sarah, popping up in the backseat of her car, only to immediately get shot. Through the head! And then Sarah’s phone rings! Mystery!

Luckily, “Instinct” picks up immediately where the first episode left off, and Sarah’s mysterious phone caller, who thinks she’s talking with Beth (the woman who jumped in front of the train), reveals that someone is killing the clones – when they aren’t killing themselves, apparently. Since there’s no reason for us to dance circles around the plot like the show does to reveal things to Sarah and the audience, let’s just lay it all out there.


Godzilla Set Video Jumps Out Of A Helicopter

At this point, filming for director Gareth Edward’s Godzilla franchise reboot is well under way in Vancouver, B.C. While there’s sure to be a glut of giant monster action in the film, there’s going to be a ton of military action as well. This new video from the Canadian set gives you a look at the human side of the coin.

The video shows a group of stunt performers, dressed as military personnel, rappelling from a helicopter hovering over Vancouver’s Golden Ears Park, which is a brilliant name for a park.

There’s already been behind-the-scenes footage of a train carrying large missiles for the production. Apparently the train crashes, and this is part of the military effort to recover the lost nuclear weapons from the wreckage, which you can see scattered about on the ground below the soldiers. You don’t want to just leave weapons like that lying around where anyone can stumble across them.