Rhys Ifans to Play Mycroft Holmes on Elementary

Rhys IfansCBS has announced that Welsh actor Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Amazing Spider-Man) will recur on season two of Elementary in the role of Sherlock’s estranged brother Mycroft. He’ll first appear in the premiere, which will be shot in London. From the press release as quoted by Give Me My Remote:

“Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) is called to London to revisit an old case, where he is forced to face his older brother, Mycroft. Although the siblings suffered a drastic falling-out a few years earlier, Mycroft allows Sherlock and Joan (Lucy Liu) to stay in his new home, 221B Baker Street. With Joan in the middle, the brothers are forced to confront their very complicated history.”

I’ll admit that I hadn’t really thought about whether they’d introduce Mycroft in this version of Sherlock Holmes, but I think Ifans is a great choice.

Under the Dome: Pilot Thoughts & Open Discussion Thread

Under the DomeI’m getting ready for a trip, so I won’t have time for the full pilot review I’d planned, but I know several of you were looking forward to watching and discussing Under the Dome, so I wanted to at least provide a place for that. (And this is a good time to mention that things will be light around here for the rest of the week because of my travel schedule, as well.) So. SPOILERS BELOW AND IN THE COMMENTS, both for the pilot episode and for the novel.

I think I liked the episode, but honestly, I’m not quite sure yet. I knew some things would be different from the book, of course, but it was more different than I expected, or maybe different in different ways, so I spent much of the episode distracting myself by saying “Wait, what?” every thirty seconds. A few particular character things stood out: Julia’s married! And we’re supposed to think Barbie killed her husband, though I’m sure that story will end up being not quite what it appears. Angie’s alive! And therefore Junior’s story is very different. Rusty is outside the Dome, which made me sad because he was one of my favorite characters in the book. Basically everyone has some differences, and several characters are amalgams of multiple book characters, but those three changes stood out the most to me.

And in more general changes – first of all, in the show, people can’t hear through the Dome, which will make some of the logistics much different and also affects the general tone. On the one hand, it makes Chester’s Mill’s isolation more complete, but on the other, it decreases the eerie “so close but so far” atmosphere. And it’s also notable that religion seems to be entirely missing as an issue in the show. The radio station is now indie rock, even! That certainly simplifies town politics, and avoids a million “CBS hates Christians!” articles, but it will be interesting to see if and with what they replace the religious imagery that runs throughout the novel.

Trying to put all the book comparisons aside for a moment, though, I did think that the first episode of Under the Dome was well-paced and entertaining, and I’m curious to see where they go with it. What did you all think? And do you want to have weekly discussion posts for this one?

Starz Confirms Outlander 16-Episode Order

StarzWell, Outlander fans, now it’s official: Starz has issued a press release confirming their order for 16-episodes of Ronald D. Moore’s drama based on Diana Gabaldon’s series of novels. It will start filming in Scotland in the fall and air next year. From the press release:

“We are thrilled to be bringing ‘Outlander’ to Starz next year,” said Chris Albrecht, CEO of Starz. “Diana has created an incredibly compelling heroine, thrust into a very complex world, not to mention, time. The books weave a fascinating tapestry of history, spirituality, love and honor, not to mention plenty of time travel, sex and warfare. With Diana’s stories guiding us and Ron’s mastery, we hope to bring Claire and Jamie to life for the millions of fans the world over.”
Moore added, “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to bring these books to life. Diana’s created a rich and textured world filled with intriguing characters, and I believe that Starz is the perfect home for her story. I think we’ll make something that the millions of fans of these books will enjoy and recognize as ‘Outlander.'”

Excited? Wary? I am both.

Warner Bros. Adapting Encyclopedia Brown

Good news for fans of classic children’s mysteries! According to a THR exclusive, there’s a movie adaptation of Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown books in the works at Warner Bros. Roy Lee (The Departed, Bates Motel) and Howard David Deutsch (of the Encyclopedia Brown TV show) are producing. Any other fans of these books out there? I always liked them. Any ideas for who should play Encyclopedia Brown or Sally Kimball? I’m thinking it might be best to go with young unknowns.

The CW Announces Fall 2013 Premiere Dates

CW NetworkThe CW will have several adaptations on the air in the fall, and they’ve just announced their premiere dates. Arrow will return on October 9th at 8/7c, and The Carrie Diaries on October 25th at 8/7c. The Vampire Diaries comes back on October 10th at 8/7c and its spinoff The Originals starts on October 15th at 8/7c. The 100 has yet to be scheduled. You can read all the dates at Give Me My Remote.

Book Review: Under the Dome

The limited series based on Stephen King’s Under the Dome premieres on CBS tonight, so let’s take a quick look at the book! First of all: It is very long. The hardcover edition I read clocked in at 1074 pages. Now, I like long books, but I will admit that, fair or not, I tend to have slightly higher expectations for them. If I’m going to invest three times the reading time than I do for an average book, the book had better be good. I will say, though, that for a long book, this was usually a fairly quick read, and at certain points, it became a page-turner for me.

The premise is simple: an invisible dome appears over a small town in Maine – a little air can get through, but nothing else – and the book traces the stories of various townspeople as everything quickly falls apart. There’s a large cast of characters and the story rotates among twenty or so viewpoint characters. As you’d expect, I found some of these characters much more engaging than others, and the book dragged for me when it spent too much time on some of the less interesting characters or topics. King did do quite a good job of bringing everyone in often enough that I generally didn’t forget what was going on or who was who between segments, and there was a handy list of characters at the front of the book just in case. King also interspersed some passages in the first person plural present tense – the narrator speaking to the reader – and those drove me crazy, though I’m sure some readers are less bothered by tense switches.

I found reading most of the book to be an enjoyable experience – King does a great job of drawing his characters and of making the quick societal breakdown under the Dome very believable. But I found the ending to be so dissatisfying that it made me like the book less in retrospect. I don’t want to spoil anyone (and I don’t know if the show will have the same ending as the book), so I’ll be very vague here. Throughout the book, some of the characters are trying to figure out what the Dome is and where it came from, and I found the way that storyline resolved to be a letdown. I assume that King was more interested in playing out what happened within the Dome than solving the mystery behind it, but I would have almost rather it remain a complete mystery than resolve the way it did.

How will Under the Dome translate to miniseries format? Pretty well, I think. The action is contained to a week or so, which will help, though the cast of characters will have to be reduced substantially. Just based on the promotional materials CBS has put out, it looks like some things will be changing a lot, so I’m curious to see how that plays out. And I think a miniseries, rather than a regular, longer series, will be particularly apt for illustrating the creeping dread that suffuses the novel. I’ll admit I hope that the ending plays out differently on screen than it did in the book, though.

I’ll have a few thoughts on the first episode tomorrow. Anyone else planning to watch?

New Release Dates for Miss Peregrine & X-Men

20th Century Fox has announced several movie release dates, including two of interest to us: First, X-Men: Days of Future Past has been moved up from July 18, 2014 to May 23, 2014. In addition, the adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is now set for July 31, 2015. This article calls the movie Peregrine’s Home for Peculiars, though author Ransom Riggs tweeted that the name is incorrect. Of course, it’s possible that this is a rename he just hadn’t heard yet.

Philippa Gregory Discusses The White Queen with BBC History Magazine

The White QueenThe White Queen is currently airing in Britain – it will start in the U.S. on Starz in August – and BBC History interviewed author Philippa Gregory about historical fiction in general and the show in particular.

What do you think makes for good historical drama on TV?
If you’re going to make a historical drama, you’ve got to have some drama! That means well-defined, interesting characters. The White Queen, unlike many historical dramas, doesn’t depict women as passive recipients of the big sweep of history. That seems to me to be a far more interesting way to tell the story, and one that is far truer to life.

Read the whole thing for her thoughts on women in historical fiction, accuracy on historical TV shows, and more.