by Josie Kafka
Get Thee to a Theater!
Agents of SHIELD will feature a Thor: The Dark World crossover on November 19th. The events of that episode, titled “The Well,” will pick up where the film leaves off. The episode will be directed by Jonathan Frakes, whose name means something to fans of Star Trek: TNG. Thor: The Dark World hits theaters on November 8th, so if you want to avoid spoilers, you’ve only got 11 days to watch those wacky Asgardians attempt to replace a lightbulb. (I assume that is what The Dark World refers to, right?)
We Have a Winner
Last week’s “Good Show, Bad Episode” poll had some not-so-surprising results. Buffy was the front-runner for “Show with the most bad episodes that we still love.” I guess not even Joss Whedon can be perfect for 144 episodes. The Supernatural episode “Bugs” was a strong contender, too. I was shocked that Lost’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” didn’t get many votes: I think the main storyline there is one of the silliest I’ve ever watched.
This Week in Casts
• Firefly’s Sean Maher will guest-star on Arrow as a [spoilery] villain.
• Once Upon a Time’s sexy Sheriff Jamie Dornan will play Christian Grey in the upcoming adaptation of everyone’s favorite lite-porn novel Fifty Shade of Grey.
• The Help’s Octavia Spencer will take on the Angela Landsbury role in the upcoming NBC reboot of Murder, She Wrote.
• Whoopi Goldberg will play the missus to Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’s Rabbit.
• The Office’s Ellie Kemper will star in the new Tina Fey comedy for NBC set to premiere in Fall 2014.
• I think I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case it fell through the cracks: Justified’s Timothy Olyphant will guest-star on The Mindy Project this Tuesday, November 5th.
Sherlock Premiere Date
The first episode of Sherlock’s three-episode third season will premiere in the US on PBS January 19th after Downton Abbey. The top-secret fourth episode of Sherlock will feature a Downton Abbey crossover in which the intrepid detective deduces that Americans really, really like British television.
The new JJ Abrams TV show Almost Human premieres over two nights: Sunday November 17th and Monday November 18th. But if you can’t wait until then, check out an eight-minute extended preview on Hulu.
Not There Yet
The US Special Operations command is attempting to create a “radically new protective suit for elite soldiers to wear into battle — one with bionic limbs, head-to-toe armor, a built-in power supply and live data feeds projected on a see-through display inside the helmet,” according to the LA Times. The suit is, of course, dubbed the “Iron Man Suit,” a fact that elicited cries of “Heinlein did it first!” from SF fans across the nation. Nonetheless, us non-combatants shouldn’t get too comfortable just yet, since the suit’s designers acknowledge that there is, according to the LA Times, “no prototype, only a smorgasbord of ideas and off-the-shelf components that still need to be combined into a suit for actual combat.”
JFK on TV
The upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy will not go unnoticed by the TV scheduling universe. Here are some upcoming JFK-related shows, many of which ChrisB will review in a special New Shows column:
• Nov. 3: Reelz (that random movie channel you probably don’t subscribe to) will air a documentary called JFK: The Smoking Gun, about how the shot that killed Kennedy was likely from a Secret Service Agent’s bullet.
• Nov 8: The National Geographic Channel will air JFK: The Final Hours, which “takes both in-depth and birds-eye views of the final day of Kennedy's life through firsthand accounts.” It is narrated by Bill Paxton, who was in Fort Worth the day Kennedy died, and stood outside of his hotel. (Paxton was eight at the time.)
• Nov. 10: The National Geographic Channel will air Killing Kennedy, a movie starring Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Godwin and based on the eponymous book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.
• Nov. 11-12: PBS will air American Experience: JFK, about pretty much every part of the president’s life except his death.
• Nov. 13: PBS will dedicate an hour of its stalwart show Nova to analyzing the forensic puzzle that is the Kennedy assassination in “Nova: Cold Case JFK.”
• Nov. 16: CBS will air a prime-time special, “As it Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years.”
• Nov. 17: The first part of CNN’s 10-episode survey of the 1960s will focus on the Kennedy assassination with “The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy.”
• Nov. 17: The Smithsonian Channel (that’s a thing?) will air “The Day Kennedy Died,” narrated by Kevin Spacey. The film gives the final answer to all the conspiracy-theory questions: Keyser Soze did it.
• Nov. 22: NBC will air a Tom Brokaw special on the assassination titled “Tom Brokaw Special: Where Were You?”
This Week in Cats
Speaking of presidents: how could we forget President Socks from the storied Clinton years? In celebration of National Cat Day, the National Archives took an unusually strong political stance and endorsed the black-and-white kitty for president on Twitter this week.
S., the new novel written by Doug Dorst (Alive in Necropolis) and invented by collaborator JJ Abrams, hit bookstore shelves this week. S. is an interesting Abramesque experiment in storytelling and presentation. The premise is, of course, complex: A 1940s edition of a book called Ship of Theseus, in library binding and with a distinctive musty smell, is annotated by two young students who hope to break the mystery of the author’s identity and possible involvement with a Mysterious Group bent on what appears to be World Domination. Interspersed throughout the book are postcards, telegrams, and other ephemera that both illuminate and ambiguate (how is that not a word?) the “true” story of the author’s life.
S. is meant to be a Lost-like puzzle, with easter eggs, clues, and mysteries. It is also, according to Abrams, an homage to the romanticism of analog: “S. was born out of an idea of a love story and the notion of celebrating the book as an object...In a digital age, it’s a distinctly analog object. It felt romantic to me,” he told the New York Times.
It is also remarkably difficult to read. I’ve been plowing through it since Thursday and am only 200 pages in. Since each chapter contains the novel Ship of Theseus as well as the IM-inspired dialogue between the two students studying the text (with different colors of ink indicating they’ve annotated the book at least three separate times, communicating obliquely with one another all the while), everything must be read twice; to read each page only once would be like trying to talk on the phone and write an essay simultaneously.
Despite Abrams’ affection for the “distinctly analog object” that is a book, S. feels more like an odd experiment in hypertext theory. A good book raises multiple questions, and each page illuminates the beautiful mystery that is language describing and creating life. The pleasure of reading is the pleasure of drawing unexpected connections within a book, between a book and our lives, or between a variety of books. S., on the other hand, directs us towards a few specific answers; the book itself has almost no literary merit, so parsing the author’s identity and experience is the only analytical option open to the reader. All the connections we might make are managed by the heavy-handed analysis and clue-dropping. A good book is open; this book is a closed circuit.
And yet, it is an interesting experience to read, and one that us Losties might be inclined to enjoy more than most. So I recommend it as a thought experiment. And I recommend you keep a backup novel next to the comfy chair when you need to take a break from clue-hunting and want to just enjoy the pleasures of a story.