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News Surfing: Return of Joss Whedon, Doctor Who actors and... X Factor! MORE!

It's been a long wilderness for TV, things have gotten so dull that I've found myself watching Sinbad on Sky, but things will improve soon, as there are only seven or eight episodes left. And also because other programmes will come back.

Today, we have a compressed mass of Doctor Who news, as we near that show's return, but first something with even more universal appeal...

ITEM! Other geek sites have been talking about The Avengers (or Marvel Avengers Assemble for Brits, and I assume we've all been using the full name?) for ages, but that's a movie, not a TV show, so I couldn't use it to fill space in this column.

Well, that's all changed this week, as not only did we get the good news that writer/director Joss Whedon will return for the Avengers movie sequel, he will also help develop an "Avengers-related" TV project. I'm totally going to use the Avengers in the header picture for this article now.

Obviously, Robert Downey Jr and chums are a bit high-budget for TV, but the 50+ years of Marvel comics contain enough superpowered characters to populate an island nation, so that isn't necessarily a problem.

What could it be? Well, there's an excellent Marvel series called Runaways which I think would adapt nicely, about a group of teenagers who find out their parents are a super-powered cabal of villains and go on the run. I'm fairly certain it's on Whedon's radar, as he wrote six issues of it. I will definitely be reminding you of this blog post later if I turn out to be right. But yeah, realistically, could be anything.

ITEM! There is a new Merlin trailer. It contains many of the same shots as the one I posted last week, although has added in a new narration at the start mentioning "Arthur's bane".

I don't know about you, but I took this as a sure sign of an upcoming Merlin/Batman crossover. Anyway, it's a bit redundant, but I like to include some video embeds to break up the text, so here it is anyway.

ITEM! The Doctor Who chatter was flying this week, as we get within sight of the new series. The big official announcement was Richard E. Grant guest-starring in the Christmas special, which will also feature the debut of new companion actress Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Only the in-story debut, though - Coleman has actually already filmed some later episodes. Her character might be called Clara, but this is unconfirmed. Grant's involvement is being announced because they start filming this festive episode soon, and I guess the BBC wanted to do a controlled announcement rather than let people learn from set photos.

Speaking vaguely of which - rumours are flying at the moment about the possibility of past Doctors returning for next year's 50th anniversary specials. David Tennant seems most likely, being the most recent past actor, not to mention a known enthusiastic super-fan. He also gave a "I can neither confirm or deny" quote in an interview this week, which you could take as a confirmation.

Less certain is Christopher Ecclestone, the Doctor before him, who left after a year and has since expressed non-specific dis-satisfaciton with the way the show was run. He also gave a public quote this week that The Mary-Sue took as meaning he might reconsider an anniversary appearance. I don't think he sounds any keener, myself, and it's not as if the BBC has piles of spare cash at the moment to make him an offer he can't refuse.

BUt I'm not psychic, so who knows? Mark Sheppard said he'd also be happy to return in his role as a one-off FBI agent from series six, but that didn't excite me quite as much.

ITEM! Fairly down-the-line this one, but the upcoming novel Gun Machine by comic/sci-fi/other weird shit writer Warren Ellis is already being developed for TV with Fox, according to Deadline.

The closest Ellis has previously come to getting an adaptation of his work on-screen is Global Frequency, which had a pilot made but wasn't picked up beyond that. Hopefully Gun Machine will fare better.

ITEM! Showtime, the US network that produces Dexter and Homeland, has been promoting those two shows to merry hell. The serial killer show is entering the home stretch with this penultimate year, while Homeland is their big Emmy-hoping hit of the last season.

I've been avoiding over-reporting those shows, because they've had more trailers and posters than an abandoned caravan shop, but here's a new promo for Homeland season two, because I particularly liked it.

ITEM! Lastly, news to shake the very soul of Television @ The Digital Fix readers, and indeed the writers too: X Factor returns on August 18th.

You may recall our coverage of the last series started to resemble a group self-harm session by the end. It wasn't just us, though - I believe that was widely regarded as a weak year for the show.

Was it the lack of Simon Cowell? A poor crop of talent? Or has the public grown sick of the formulaic and blatant cynicism? Probably some combination of the above, but let's wait and see what happens with the new series.

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