SciFi Weekend Preview

Since the last full post, we have had two additional episodes of Doctor Who. If Steven Moffat tried to throw out too many big ideas, Chris Chibnall throws out a whole lot of small ideas in The Tsuranga Conundrum. Then history got personal in Demons of the Punjab. In both, Chibnall tried to avoid having any real monsters.

Star Trek returned with a new Short Trek, Calypso, written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon.

I have had to postpone the full post on these topics, and more, for later in the week.

Trump Threatens Press

If the White House Press Corps had any balls, they’d all stop showing up for the orchestrated press briefings in response to a threat like this and resort to real reporting to cover Trump in the disrespectful manner he deserves.

Trump Threatens to Retaliate Against Reporters Who Don’t Show ‘Respect’

President Trump said on Friday that he might revoke the credentials of additional White House reporters if they did not “treat the White House with respect,” lobbing another threat at the news media two days after his administration effectively blacklisted the CNN correspondent Jim Acosta.

Asked how long Mr. Acosta’s pass would be suspended, Mr. Trump replied: “As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t made that decision. But it could be others also.”

The president made his comments while speaking with reporters on the South Lawn before boarding Marine One.

“When you’re in the White House, this is a very sacred place for me, a very special place,” Mr. Trump said as he left Washington for a brief jaunt to Paris. “You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.”

The removal of Mr. Acosta’s credential, after a tense news conference on Wednesday when the CNN correspondent aggressively questioned Mr. Trump, has raised alarms among press freedom groups that say the president is encroaching on journalists’ basic right to cover the government…

Democrats Slap Donald Trump On the Wrist In the Midterms

The midterms were a mixed success for the Democrats in 2018. Most notably the Democrats took control of the House, but unfortunately this probably means Nancy Peolsi returns as Speaker. They also regained about three hundred of the near one thousand seats in state legislatures they lost over the past decade, have a majority of state attorney generals in the nation, and won some key governorship battles, especially in the midwest. On the other hand, despite a Republican president as terrible as Donald Trump, their midterm gains in the House were historically not terribly impressive for the party out of power, and they did poorly in the high profile battles in the Senate. (I’m waiting to hear Rachel Maddow explain why the Russians meddled in the Senate races but not the House races this year.)

This was far more a slap on the wrist than a shallacking for Donald Trump.

The Senate map was undoubtedly very unfavorable for Democrats, but it will be so virtually every year as long as Democrats are unable to come up with a message to win in the smaller states beyond the east coast. The system of giving two Senators to each state regardless of size makes the Senate extraordinarily unrepresentative. Still, don’t be tempted to repeat the memes showing up since the election regarding winning the popular vote. They are misleading as the entire nation did not vote for Senate, and this can be tilted by which states do vote. This was especially true in 2018 as California had two Democrats running for Senate due to a system where the two leaders in the primary get on the November ballot regardless of party. This leads to a tremendous number of Democratic votes if the mythical Senate popular vote is counted, but only one Democratic Senator.

Democrats are always far quicker to list off the problems which make it more difficult to win than to change their strategy. They showed once again that moving to the right in the hopes of attracting Republican votes does not work. Nor did recruiting veterans help them do any better than expected. I would prefer to see Democrats be more consistent in supporting a reduction in  the role of government in the private lives of individuals–an attitude which might make defense of reproductive rights part of a consistent philosophy that might be accepted in the more libertarian minded portions of the country. Taking a rational anti-war line, as opposed to acting as if they are apologizing for appearing weak on national security, might also help in those areas which are hurt by perpetual warfare–and rejected Hillary Clinton in 2016.

This does note mean that the Democrats don’t have many valid complaints, including regarding voter suppression and gerrymandering. Some of the election results will help, including increasing their strength in several state governments before the next redistricting. While the high profile races in Florida did not turn out as hoped (how badly did campaigning with Hillary Clinton hurt Andrew Gillum?), but there was a victory in passing a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time.

While Democrats continued to struggle in Florida and Ohio, their hopes for Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin being more blue in 2018 look favorable after Tuesday’s results, including the defeat of Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Besides possibly giving the Democrats their electoral votes again in 2020, there might be an increased number of representatives as the heavily gerrymandered system of drawing Congressional districts will be replaced by an independent redistricting commission in Michigan.

Other ballot proposals passing in Michigan will make it easier to vote and legalized marijuana for recreational use. Newly elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer is looking at legislation or issuing executive orders to free prisoners convicted for marijuana related charges which will no longer be crimes after the ballot proposal passed. I did hold my nose and vote for Whitmer, despite her reliance on dark money and financing by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Action such as this will make me happier that I did so. A judge has already put some new marijuana cases on hold.

Medicaid expansion passed in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, and is also expected in Kansas due to the victory for a Democratic governor. While there is no chance of it becoming law imminently, there are also more Democratic supporters of Medicare for All in the House.

There were victories for various groups. The media has covered extensively how there are more women and people of color in the House. In addition, seven more scientists were elected to the House–all Democrats as the Republican war on science continues.

It remains to be seen how some issues will play out now that the midterms are over. Are we still supposed to be terrified by the caravan? Donald Trump quickly took advantage of having control of the Senate by firing Jeff Sessions.  I never would have guessed that I would see this as a bad thing when Sessions first became Attorney General. On the one hand, Sessions might have been the worst Attorney General in history. On the other hand, Sessions was absolutely right in his dispute with Trump in recusing himself from Mueller’s investigation, and his firing could be a sign that Trump plans to take action against Mueller. I suspect that Mueller has prepared for this by being ready to turn over evidence of financial crimes committed by Trump and his cronies to state prosecutors. Congressional Democrats will also be able to take over the investigation if needed. Hopefully they concentrate on Trump’s financial crimes and obstruction of justice, as opposed to the dubious conspiracy theories popular among many Democrats blaming Russia for Hillary Clinton’s loss.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Arachnids In The UK; Penny Dreadful Returning; Marvel Television Crossover Hinted; Arrowverse Crossover and News on The Flash

Arachnids in the UK provided both a horror story before Halloween and political satire just over a week before the midterm elections in the United States. These two components were not entirely successful, but there was a third aspect of this episode of Doctor Who which was a success, redeeming the episode.

The main story line was fairly weak (as many episodes of Doctor Who tend to be), and its fairly minimal importance was seen in the way it was wrapped up quickly. Rather than being a true monster, the spiders were simply normal spiders who grew to be too big and lacked an ecosystem to exist in. The solution played into the anti-gun sentiments seen earlier this season, but is it really more humane to let them suffocate as opposed to shooting them quickly? I could see earlier seasons solving the problem more humanely by transporting the spiders to a new planet where they could live in peace. While the episode did provide a quick solution for the spiders in the hotel, it also seemed to forget that there were additional spiders around the apartments seen earlier in the episode.

Chris Noth added the political aspect for the episode and, like the spiders, fell short of being the outright villain of the episode. He played an American businessman who aspires to be president, builds luxury hotels around the world, loves to fire people (including Yaz’s mother), sees guns as the solution, uses words such as “fire and fury,” and hates that a woman (the Doctor) is the one in charge. He also hates Donald Trump, whom he is clearly modeled upon, and plans to run against him. I had expected to see Jack Robertson die a horrible death, being eaten by the spiders. Instead this only happened to his poor bodyguard. The episode ended with Jack Robertson seeing himself as the hero, and ready to go on to attempt to become the next president. This would have been the true horror of the story if not for the fact that we already have Donald Trump as president. This does leave open the possibility of Robertson becoming a recurring character, possibly with Chris Noth returning to play the next president sometime in the future.

As political satire, this was fairly weak considering it adds nothing to the vast work satirizing Trump, other than copying some of his obvious characteristics. I suspect that Chris Chibnall did not want to get overly specific so that the episode will still hold up over time. While many future viewers might forget many of the specifics of the Trump years, I doubt anyone will forget the basic outline of Trump as shown in the episode.

The episode works best if seen as the conclusion of a trilogy to establish the Doctor and her new companions, beginning with The Woman Who Fell To Earth and The Ghost Monument. These show the Doctor meeting her future companions, getting to the TARDIS, and ultimately getting home after a series of adventures–with Rosa showing only one of these as a side story to this trilogy. After this series of adventures, the TARDIS made it back to Sheffield.

The revival of Doctor Who has been stronger by showing the families of many of the companions, allowing the companions to be more complete people as opposed to simply people traveling with the Doctor. The episode concentrated on showing Yaz’s family, but also went back to Graham’s loss of Grace and building a relationship with Ryan.

Until they returned to Sheffield, the three were with the Doctor by accident, and the goal was to return them home safely. Now they had a choice, and the Doctor even warned them of the dangers of traveling with her. This especially makes sense considering the fates of many of her recent companions. I imagine that it is easier to write a companion out by having a tragic outcome than showing that someone would just decide that they no longer wish to travel on the TARDIS.

The episode also suggests further expansion of the Doctor’s backstory. Steven Moffat had set up the possibility of a Timelord changing gender, but now we are hearing suggestions that the Doctor has also been a woman, had a family, and had a life we do not know about. Peter Capaldi, speaking of the Master, has said, “I think she was a man back then. I’m fairly sure that I was, too. It was a long time ago, though.” This episode was more explicit. The Doctor said she used to have sisters, and that she herself was once a sister in an aqua hospital, which was a training camp for space assassins. As we know very little of the Doctor’s life before becoming a Timelord, there is no contradiction with the Doctor having had sisters. However, for the Doctor to have once been a woman, this would mean that William Hartnell was not the first Doctor. Older episodes did sometimes hint at previous regenerations before Hartnell, but for this to have been possible it would have been necessary for the Doctor to have been granted additional regenerations in the past. We did see this was possible with Matt Smith.

In other Doctor Who news, it appears that instead of a Christmas special there will be a special on New Year’s Day this year. This does help as they appear to have run out of ideas for a Christmas tie-in for the series. I imagine that for some viewers in the UK, this might not matter much, unless people really care about the tradition. Watching in the United States, I would prefer a special on Christmas Day, and lacking a connection with the holiday would be fine. There is very little new American television around the holidays, and I’ve gotten in the habit of downloading Christmas specials from the UK that day. However, New Year’s Day is taken up by football here.  At least the streaming channels will fill in for the lack of Doctor Who on Christmas Day if my wife and I wind up staying home and watching television.

The Hollywood Reporter has a story on a new version of Penny Dreadful, with new cast and new location:

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels opens in 1938 Los Angeles for a story that Showtime describes as “a time and place deeply infused with Mexican-American folklore and social tension.” Rooted in the conflict between characters connected to the deity Santa Muerte and others allied with the devil, City of Angels will explore a mix of the supernatural and the combustible reality of that period, creating new occult myths and moral dilemmas within a historical backdrop. The series will feature all new characters and storylines.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will have a social consciousness and historical awareness that we chose not to explore in the Penny Dreadful London storylines,” Logan said Thursday in a statement. “We will now be grappling with specific historical and real-world political, religious, social and racial issues. In 1938, Los Angeles was facing some hard questions about its future and its soul. Our characters must do the same. There are no easy answers. There are only powerful questions and arresting moral challenges. As always in the world of Penny Dreadful, there are no heroes or villains in this world, only protagonists and antagonists; complicated and conflicted characters living on the fulcrum of moral choice.”

There have been hints about a cross-over between Marvel’s Runaways and Cloak & Dagger. Comicbook.com reports:

“It can reference the rest of the world, but it’s true to teenagers — they’re not interested in what Tony Stark is doing this week or what Matt Murdock is doing this week but they might be interested in a couple of kids who live down in New Orleans and what’s going on there.”

That’s fitting because both Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen have been members of the Runaways team at some point along in the Marvel comics mythos. Now that the characters are played by Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt, respectively, that’s a scenario that’s entirely plausible in live-action.

In fact, Cloak & Dagger showrunner and executive producer Joe Pokaski has previously said the powers that be have had conversations on how to make crossovers happen.

Chicago, as opposed to Vancouver, will provide the background for Gotham City on the Arrowverse Elseworlds crossover episodes this season. We will be seeing Ruby Rose as Batwoman, and seeing a Black Suit Superman, but it has been confirmed that Batman will not appear.

CBR.com reports that Flash’s most iconic villains might be returning for the 100th episode:

DC World writer Paul Edwards attended an autograph signing at MCM Comic Con London. While there, he talked with actor Tony Todd, who previously provided the voice for Flash villain Zoom. During a conversation about Todd’s acting, the former Candyman star explained that he had just finished filming episode 100 of Flash. When asked if he would be reprising his role as Zoom, Todd replied, “They are all returning, all the speedster villains, and they all want a piece of Barry.”

…Executive producer Todd Helbing teased a big twist for the series at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, so this might be what he was referring to. The eighth episode of Flash Season 5, which will premiere on Dec. 4, will be the series’ 100th episode. Tom Cavanagh, who plays various versions of Harrison Wells on the show, will direct.

You might have noticed that Joe West has not been doing much on The Flash this season, generally sitting in scenes. TVLine has the reason for this:

I’m hearing that Martin suffered a back injury over the hiatus. In fact, a studio rep confirms for TVLine that the actor will be taking a medical leave from the CW hit, adding: “We wish him a full and speedy recovery and look forward to his return as Detective Joe West.” (It’s unclear at this time exactly when and for how long Joe’s absence will be felt on screen, but sources tell me it will be addressed at some point.)

Fortunately it should be easy to have a reduced role for Joe, and write him out for a while, without causing serious problems for the stories.

The Growing Lists Of False Statements And Acts Of Corruption From The Trump Administration

Keeping up with the false statements, repugnant statements, and acts of corruption from Donald Trump in nearly two years of his presidency has become an impossible task for a small blog. While I could successfully cover at least the major lies from the Bush administration, there are far too many from Trump to keep up with–which might be part of his strategy. Instead we must rely on professional journalists who can devote far more of their time to such projects.

Trump has kept the fact checkers very busy. The fact checkers at The Washington Post report that Trump “has made 6,420 false or misleading claims over 649 days.” The rate of false statements has escalated as Trump has been out campaigning for fellow Republicans:

The flood of presidential misinformation has picked up dramatically as the president has barnstormed across the country, holding rallies with his supporters. Each of those rallies usually yields 35 to 45 suspect claims. But the president often has tacked on interviews with local media (in which he repeats the same false statements) and gaggles with the White House press corps before and after his trips…

Put another way: September was the second-biggest month of the Trump presidency, with 599 false and misleading claims. But that paled next to October, with almost double: 1,104 claims, not counting Oct. 31…

The president’s proclivity to twist data and fabricate stories is on full display at his rallies. He has his greatest hits: 120 times he had falsely said he passed the biggest tax cut in history, 80 times he has asserted that the U.S. economy today is the best in history and 74 times he has falsely said his border wall is already being built. (Congress has allocated only $1.6 billion for fencing, but Trump also frequently mentioned additional funding that has not yet been appropriated.)

I’m not aware of any similar counts of repugnant statements from Trump but this number must also be growing. He has always taken advantage of racism and xenophobia, and the refugee caravan has played into this. Yesterday CNN reportedTrump shocks with racist new ad days before midterms:

Trump has repeatedly warned that the caravan is laden with criminals or also includes Middle Eastern terrorists. He has offered no evidence for such claims, however, and even admitted last week there is no proof to support them.

The President has also often used racially suggestive rhetoric in his tweets and launched his presidential campaign in 2015 with a tirade against Mexicans. But he accuses the media, which points out his frequent falsehoods and flaming rhetoric, of being to blame for national divides.

Controversy over the new ad is certain to explode across the final days of the election in which polls suggest Democrats could take back the House of Representatives but Republicans could keep or even expand their Senate majority.

The new campaign web video was the culmination of a day on which the President staked out ever more extreme positions.

He took advantage of his role as commander-in-chief to promise to triple the number of troops to 15,000 that he has pledged to send to the southern border to repel the caravan — which is still hundreds of miles away.

He also made a dubious claim of presidential power to reinforce his vow to change the Constitution on his own to end birthright citizenship that is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

If the Democrats do take back the House as expected, this will give Democrats the ability to investigate the vast amount of corruption by Trump, his family, and top members of his administration.  David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick have posted what they bill as Trump’s Corruption: The Definitive List in The New York Times. They began:

They don’t even try very hard to hide it.

President Trump, his family and more than a few of his appointees are using his presidency to enrich themselves. They are spending taxpayer dollars for their own benefit. They are accepting sweetheart deals from foreigners. And they are harnessing the power of the federal government on behalf of their businesses.

There’s a word for this: corruption.

Given how widespread Trumpian corruption has become, we thought it was time to make a list. It’s meant to be a definitive list of self-dealing by the president, his family, his staff or his friends — since he began running for president. To qualify, an incident needs to seem highly credible, even if it remains unresolved, and needs to involve making money.

Compiling the list made us understand why some historians believe Trump’s administration is the most corrupt since at least Warren Harding’s, of 1920s Teapot Dome fame. Trump administration officials and people close to them are brashly using power to amass perks and cash. They are betting that they can get away with it. So far, Congress has let them.

A Welcome Reduction In Hysteria As We Are Hearing Less About Foreign Hacking Of The 2018 Election (For Now)

The New York Times today asks, Where Are The Russians? In other words, they have bought the sensationalized and highly exaggerated media accounts of Russia’s impact on the 2016 election, and are now surprised that they cannot find evidence that Russia is trying to hack the 2018 election.

Aaron Maté has a more reality-based view at The Nation in writing,With Just Days to the Midterms, Russiagate Is MIA–And that’s a good thing. He wrote, that despite all the “histrionics,” Russia has been found to have done little of consequence:

Russia’s alleged midterm sabotage to date has been disclosed in a newly unsealed criminal complaint against an employee of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian troll farm previously indicted for using fake accounts to spread divisive content on social media. The defendant, Elena Khusyaynova, is not even directly accused of online manipulation. Instead, she is singled out for being the chief accountant for “Project Lakhta,” an IRA initiative that targeted audiences in Russia and around the world, including the United States. The only actions directly ascribed to Khusyaynova concern her “meticulous record-keeping and management” of IRA funds.

As with the initial indictment of 13 IRA employees in February, prosecutors accuse IRA trolls of using social media “to sow discord in the U.S. political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions,” including in the upcoming midterms. But reading the fine print, it is difficult to see how that purported aim can be taken seriously. In the first six months of 2018, Khusyaynova submitted expenditures of $60,000 for advertisements on Facebook and $6,000 on Instagram. The only advertising-related activity that gets detailed in the complaint is an alleged IRA employee’s offering to give organizers of an anti-Trump protest $80 for a Facebook ad. (It’s unclear if the proposal was accepted). The IRA’s alleged social-media accounts impersonated both liberal and conservative personas. The complaint shows six images that were posted by Russian trolls to Facebook; the most impactful of the bunch appears to be a thinly disguised anti-Muslim ad that attracted 104 comments.

Some of this content is overtly racist and bigoted; other posts are banal. All are so juvenile or inconsequential that it is difficult to see how they could have vastly greater influence than the millions of other pieces of political clickbait littering the Internet. The IRA’s social-media imprint seems to have as much impact now as it did during the 2016 election. Back then, the IRA spent a reported on $100,000 on Facebook ads, with most of those ads having nothing to do with the election, and more than half of that total spent after the election.

According to Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch, posts generated by suspected Russian accounts between 2015 and 2017 represented “a tiny fraction of the overall [News Feed] content on Facebook.… about four-thousandths of one percent (0.004%) of content in News Feed, or approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content.” The widely cited figure that “material generated by the Kremlin had reached a hundred and twenty-six million American Facebook users,” (The New Yorker) is in fact a creative take on Facebook’s own speculation. “Our best estimate,” Stretch testified to Congress in October 2017, “is that approximately 126 million people may have been served one of these [IRA] stories at some time during the two year period.” So the 126 million figure is an “estimate” of how many people “may have been served” one piece of IRA content—most unrelated to the 2016 election—in their Facebook feeds over two years. Over on Twitter, a new analysis by the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab finds that “Russia’s troll operation primarily targeted Russian speakers,” posting “significantly more in Russian than in English.”

Maté went on to further debunk many of the Russiagate claims, seeing them as no more than “fodder for ongoing efforts intent on convincing Americans that unsophisticated social-media trolling could somehow divide and weaken their society.” He showed problems with claims that Russia penetrated state voting systems and the many problems with media coverage of Russiagate, as I, and others, have also done many times in the the past.

Matt Taibbi also discussed the problems with coverage of Russia in an interview with Recode, pointing out, “You see a lot of stories where there are four unnamed intelligence sources all saying something that is totally unverifiable.” He discussed additional problems with some stories:

So recently we had a story that … I’ll give you two. Okay? There was one from pretty early on where the New York Times said, “Trump campaign officials had repeat contacts with Russian intelligence.” All right? And again, it was four current and former officials, none of them named. Now, I knew and anybody who lived in Russia knew that you constantly have contact with intelligence officials there often, whether you know it or not. And the story didn’t specify whether the contract was knowing or unknowing, like what the nature of it was, but the headline was incredibly damning, right?

I was very concerned about the vagueness of it, the inability to verify it. And then, sure enough, James Comey came out months later and said, “Well, that story isn’t true.” All right? And so if I’m the reporters, I’m really pissed about that, right? Like, “you burned me on this.”

Right.

Then later, more recently, we had a story that said, “Oh, all of our informants in Moscow have gone dark.” Now, I get that the sources in that story had to be high level.

Sure.

Of course they were, but how do you confirm that story? Think about it as a journalist. If you get a call, it doesn’t matter to me if the source is the head of the CIA.

It’s not like you can go find those intelligence sources and confirm with them.

Right? I mean, can you look at the string of cables that have suddenly ceased? You can’t, right? I even called the paper and asked about that. I said, “What’s the deal with this?”

Taibbi noted a time when The New York Times fell into a similar trap in reporting unverified intelligence claims: FROM THE EDITORS; The Times and Iraq.

While talk of Russia rigging our elections has calmed down going into the midterms, this might also be a temporary break, with politicians on both sides likely to be searching for people to blame for losses after the results are in. However, if there really should be a threat of election rigging, it is notable that, despite all the hysteria since 2016, The New York Times is right on one thing. Very little has been done to change how our elections are held and to deal with the risks in our electronic voting systems. If politicians (along with journalists who called 2016 incorrectly) really took the risk of election hacking seriously, as opposed to a convenient excuse for why Hillary Clinton could not beat Donald Trump, we might expect a strong movement towards paper ballots and more secure voting systems.

The Halloween Horror Story Of Another Clinton Run For President

As if we didn’t have enough terrible events in the past week, yet another scare before this Halloween is the prospect that Hillary Clinton might run for president again. The last Clinton candidacy scare came when she said she would like to be president when asked about running:

“Do you want to run again?” Recode’s Kara Swisher asked during a Friday night Q&A with Clinton.

“No,” Clinton replied quickly, sparking laughter from the audience. But when Swisher pressed her further, she added: “I’d like to be president.”

By itself, this means little. If they answered honestly, pretty much everyone who has ever run for elected office would say they would like to be president, even if they have zero actual plan of running at the time.

This comes shortly after a former aide Philippe Reines raised the question of her running: “It’s curious why Hillary Clinton’s name isn’t in the mix—either conversationally or in formal polling—as a 2020 candidate.” Reines was asked about the likelihood of her running: “It’s somewhere between highly unlikely and zero,” he said, “but it’s not zero.”

Fortunately the chances of someone winning the nomination after losing the general election are very remote. Nobody has successfully done so since Richard Nixon. There are additional circumstances around her loss which must be kept under consideration. Clinton lost to a candidate as terrible as Donald Trump, being possibly the only politician whose own negatives were high enough to balance out Trump’s. Clinton’s approval ratings remain below those of Donald Trump.

Clinton also won the nomination under unusual circumstances in which the Democratic National Committee did everything possible to rig the nomination in her favor, and yet she still faced a stiff challenge from Bernie Sanders.

If Clinton has any desire to run, there remains the possibility she might convince Democrats to nominate her after losing as a solid majority of Democrats believe the story she fabricated after the election blaming Russia for her loss, despite the evidence failing to support her claims. This helps blind many Democrats to how terrible a candidate she was, and helps her cover up the actual reasons she could not even beat Donald Trump.

Clinton has gone on a series of tours to promote her book, and herself, since losing the election. The Clinton tours have received the expected criticism from the right, along with criticism from the left. Interest in paying to see the Clintons might be higher if the Clintons could convince people that Hillary has a future in politics (at least among those who might see this as something they could support).

One reason Clinton has managed to survive politically has been a lack of awareness by many Democrats of the amount of damage Clinton has done around the world, including causing the development of slave markets along with the casualties in Libya. We might soon receive another reminder–if Americans were only more aware of Hillary Clinton’s role in the coup which destabilized Honduras–creating the conditions under which some have fled to come to the United States.

Hillary Clinton says she would like to be president. I would like to see her brought to justice for all the people around the world who have died and suffered as a result of her policies. Neither of us are likely to get what we would like.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Rosa Review And Spoiler-Free Comments On  Arachnids In The UK; Timeless Finale; Star Trek Jumps Ahead 1000 Years, And Other ST News; The Orville Season 2 Trailer; Two Series With David Tennant

I will avoid spoilers for today’s episode of Doctor Who, Arachnids In The UK, as it has not yet been seen by those in the United States who wait to view it legally. The episode, like many episodes of Doctor Who, has its faults, but was still thoroughly enjoyable. It is best viewed not as a stand-alone episode but as part three of a trilogy which establishes the new Doctor and companions, beginning with The Woman Who Fell To Earth and The Ghost Monument. During the events of this trilogy, the group underwent an unknown number of adventures as the TARDIS failed to return home until Arachnids In The UK. We only saw one of these adventures, but Rosa is certain to become a classic episode of Doctor Who.

Rosa is a return to historical episodes of Doctor Who. It could be seen as a children’s educational show, including a recap of the significance of the story at the end. Then, being Doctor Who, there was a trip to see the asteroid named after Rosa Parks. However, it does not tone down the issues for children, showing the horrors of racist socient. The episode realistically shows racism as not being something isolated to certain evil individuals, but as the atmosphere of the time and area.

The companions worked well with the story, starting with Ryan experiencing racism when he simply tried to give a woman her dropped glove. Racism was similarly seen in other situations including in a restaurant, a white-only hotel, and, obviously for this story, on the bus. Racism was shown to be different with Yasmin, with the locals not being as clear as to where she fits in, with Yasmin even being mistaken for a Mexican. Yasmin was not welcome in the restaurant, but could sit with the whites in the front of the bus. Racism was as illogical in the episode as in real life.

Strangely nobody seemed disturbed that a woman was dressed like the Doctor in pants and an unusual shirt in 1955 Alabama.  Rather than deal with this, the episode did include a joke about the Doctor being the street artist Bansky. Plus Graham identified himself as Steve Jobs.

As with many historical Doctor Who episodes, there is an outside villain, but Krasko really isn’t all that memorable. (Similarly, does anyone recall the monster from Vincent and the Doctor?) Krasko just served to set up the situation of forcing the Doctor and her friends to make sure history played out correctly. Krasko did also show that Chris Chibnall isn’t totally ignoring the Moffat years, even if he is avoiding his characters. Krasko was recently released from Stormcage, where River Song was also imprisoned. A neural restrictor in his brain prevented him from directly killing–even if he could still conspire to do evil. His weapon was a version of how the Weeping Angels dispose of people, sending them to another time. Theoretically Krasko could appear again, but it is questionable as to whether there is any point in it.

One challenge in a story such as this was that the Doctor could not be the hero as usual. Rosa Parks had to be the star, and Vinette Robinson handled this very well in a story written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall. In many ways this felt more like an episode of Timeless than Doctor Who, with the stars concentrating on thwarting the efforts of someone who was trying to change the course of history.

The episode required an unusual victory, with the arrest of Rosa Parks hardly being a positive outcome unless viewed in its historical context of sparking protests. Graham was upset with being a part of this, being one of the whites on the bus who led to Rosa Parks being put in a situation where she was ordered to give up her seat, crying “No, no, I don’t want to be a part of this!” Graham actually seemed to have less understanding of racism and the civil rights movement than might be expected after he was married to a black woman. The episode even began with Graham first thinking of Elvis as opposed to racism when he learned they were in the south in the 1950’s.

Yaz clearly understood the significance of the events they were involved in: “I can be a police officer now because people like Rosa Parks fought those battles for me. For us. And in fifty-three years, they’ll have a black president as leader. Who knows where they’ll be fifty years after that? That’s proper change.”

As I mentioned above, last week’s episode of Doctor Who was structured more like an episode of Timeless than a typical episode of Doctor Who. Unfortunately Timeless will only be around for a tiny fraction of the time Doctor Who has been on the air. At least NBC has agreed to a television movie to wrap up the series, and the air date was announced last week. From Entertainment Weekly:

Timeless will air one last, well, time, on Thursday, Dec. 20 from 8 to 10 p.m. on NBC.

We’re told the episode is “an epic, unforgettable thrill ride through the past, present and future, with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. Spread across three centuries and two continents, the finale will test Lucy, Wyatt and the entire Time Team like never before as they try to #SaveRufus, preserve history and put a stop to Rittenhouse once and for all.”

The next Short Trek jumps to one thousand years after Discovery, placing it beyond anything we have seen so far in the Star Trek time line. The above trailer has been released with the episode to be released on CBS All Access on November 8.

Following is the synopsis for the episode, written by Michael Chabron: After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself onboard a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Not all of the upcoming series will be as big as a new series staring Patrick Stewart. Another new series has been announced, this time an animated comedy. From TrekMovie.com:

For the first time since the 1970s, Star Trek is getting animated. This morning CBS announced they have given a two-season order for Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is being developed by Mike McMahan, who recently won an Emmy for his work on the popular animated series Rick and Morty.

Star Trek: Lower Decks will be the first animated series for CBS All Access, and will be a half-hour comedy focused on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships. There are no details yet on what Star Trek era the show will be set in.

Mike McMahan also wrote the upcoming Harry Mudd-centric Star Trek: Short Treks. A longtime fan, back in 2015 he published the officially licensed Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season, which arose from @tng_s8 his popular parody Twitter account about an imagined eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

We have seen some of the technology from Star Trek become real, and now there is an effort to make a working holodeck. From TrekMovie.com:

Roddenberry Entertainment, owned by Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, is teaming up with a number of technology companies working to make the Star Trek holodeck a reality. The partnership will leverage Light Field Lab’s revolutionary headgear-free holographic displays and OTOY’s ORBX Technology, the industry’s first open source and royalty-free format for rendering media and real-time graphics on Light Field Lab’s holographic display panels.

Original holographic content for the new system is in active development, spearheaded by Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, and Rod Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, and also an executive producer on Star Trek: Discovery.

“The concept of the Holodeck was extremely important to my father as well as the Star Trek Universe,” said Rod Roddenberry about his late father, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. “I want to see Star Trek’s technologies made real, and for the very first time, now believe that a real Holodeck is no longer limited to science fiction. Although it’s early days, my father would be beyond excited to know his vision is coming into reality thanks to OTOY’s trailblazing light field rendering, and the revolutionary holographic display systems created at Light Field Lab.”

The Orville was the last Star Trek related series billed as comedy before Lower Decks, but has turned out to be more. The above trailer for season two was released along with information on the release date. The season will premiere on December 30 after a football double header, and then return to Thursday nights.

ComicBook.com added:

The series is adding Jessica Szohr as a new series regular and Chris Johnson in a recurring role in its second season. A veteran Star Trekwriter was also brought on board as an additional executive producer, and multiple Star Trekactors will guest star.

Star Trek: The Next Generation star and director Jonathan Frakes will also contribute to the new season of The Orville. At a convention, Frakes spoke about the series in comparison to CBS All Access’s Star Trek: Discovery.

“The Star Trek that we have has really found its voice, and Discovery has really found its voice,” Frakes explained earlier this year. “And The Orville has filled in a void. For a lot of people, The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation], and it’s got wild humor in it.

“[Seth MacFarlane] clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like [The Next Generation].” Frakes added. “So, he hired the cinematographer [Marvin Rush] and the camera operator, and Brannon Braga, who wrote First Contact among other things that are fabulous. Robbie Duncan McNeill, one of our wonderful directors from Voyager, James Conway, who directed a bunch of great Next Gen episodes; he hired me. He filled the room with Next Gen people so that the show would look and feel like it. I think he did it.”

So far I’ve only watched the pilot for Camping, but the show looks like a terrible waste of the talents of Jennifer Garner and David Tennant. At least Garner’s role, while wasting her talents, was the dominant character in the pilot, while Tennant was totally wasted. Fortunately David Tennant will be appearing in other roles. This includes staring with Martin Sheen in an adaption of Neil Gaiman’s book Good Omens. Amazon has released the following trailer:

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery And Continuity; Arrow Returns With Needed Changes; Luke Cage Cancelled; Doctor Who, Rosa

We continue to learn more about the upcoming season of Star Trek: Discovery, including receiving information on Spock and Christopher Pike when executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin spoke with IGN:

“Well, obviously we started Season 1 10 years before TOS [The Original Series], so it seemed like a very logical thing,” laughed Kurtzman. “We also established that Burnham is Spock’s half-sister, so we owe that story now. And this season is very much about siblings and their relationship. We learn what happened between them, we learn how they’re going to fix it, against the backdrop of this tremendous mystery that requires both of them to work out their issues with each other.”

Of course, we have seen Spock from this era before. Discovery’s time period basically lines up with the first pilot episode of Star Trek ever, “The Cage,” which featured Leonard Nimoy as Spock and Jeffrey Hunter as the captain of the Enterprise at that time, Christopher Pike. Now Ethan Peck and Anson Mount step into those roles, respectively, but fans know that the Spock seen in “The Cage” was fairly different from the calm, cool and collected Vulcan of the rest of TOS.

“What you have to remember is, this is not the Spock from TOS,” said Kurtzman. “He actually hasn’t gotten to the place where he’s more sanguine about his logic side. He’s really struggling through which — as a result of things that have happened, as a result of the visitation by the Red Angel, as a result of seeing these signals — his logic brain has been totally fried. And all of his logic training has failed him in many ways. And his emotional inner life has been suppressed in so many ways. So he really doesn’t know which way to turn. And that’s a big part of what he’s struggling through. In many ways, it’s the story of how Spock becomes the Spock we meet in TOS.”

The season will also, at least tangentially, touch upon Captain Pike’s past in “The Cage” — and, possibly, his tragic future as seen in TOS story “The Menagerie.”

“We do end up syncing with canon by the end of the season,” said Kurtzman. “So a lot of the things that everybody knows about these key characters will be touched on.”

Most likely the portrayal of Spock will make some fans angry. We will also see uniforms begin to sync up with what we have seen, with the Enterprise crew wearing uniforms closer to what was on The Cage, and later the original show, while the Discovery crew continues to wear uniforms like last season.

Digital Spy reports that Kurtzman acknowledged the difficulties in maintaining continuity, especially if the novels and graphic novels are considered:

“Everybody is always trying to maintain continuity,” Kurtzman told us. “But given the 50 plus years of Star Trek, it literally becomes impossible because people decide that they want to follow a character in a book series after the show has been cancelled, and so they’ll invent stories.

“And then 15 years later, a new show will come on that will take that character back and you can’t be consistent with everything. Our goal is always to try, always, always to try and never to negate what has existed in the novels and graphic novels but it is a literal impossibility.

“And part of what has kept Trek going for so long is everyone’s wonderful imagination to keep writing books and keep making graphic novels and keep making shows. And at a certain point, given the volume of things that are out there it’s just impossible for everything to sync up perfectly. So we give it our best effort.”

Arrow was starting to look stale in recent seasons but new showrunner Beth Schwartz is attempting to revive the show with changes, including Oliver spending a good portion of the season in prison, a new Green Arrow on the loose, and flash-forwards replacing the flashbacks. Beth Schwartz spoke with The Hollywood Reporter:

Viewers were left reeling when the end of the Arrow season seven premiere revealed that those island “flashback” scenes throughout the episode were actually flash forwards. Taking place 20 years in the future, Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) now grown son William (Ben Lewis) journeyed to Lian Yu to link up with a now middle-aged Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) for a mysterious reason that will be explored throughout the entire season (and future seasons as well).

“I’ve been on the show since the beginning and we had always in the room discussed the possibility when the flashbacks ended that we would do the flash forwards,” executive producer Beth Schwartz tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Especially since we knew about William and we thought that would be really cool to see how he’s been affected by his childhood and his father. We always wanted to do something like that and then this season I pitched it to Greg [Berlanti] and he was like, ‘Yes!’ We knew we wanted something fresh and new for season seven and my favorite part of the show was always the flashbacks and the mystery of how Oliver became the Green Arrow and his origin story.”

While Schwartz doesn’t remember which writer or producer originally came up with the flash forward idea in the early days of Arrow, it was set in the core mythology of the series years ago. “It was when we realized this show might go on beyond five seasons and I know that Marc [Guggenheim] had always said the flashbacks were five years,” she adds. “What do we do after five seasons? It just made sense to go forward into the future instead of continuing flashbacks. We’re kind of breaking two shows. We have a whole separate mythology for the flash forwards and we have a lot of new characters and that’s why it feels so fresh; we’re doing two shows in one.”

Not surprisingly, we will eventually learn who the new Green Arrow is. Schwartz told Entertainment Weekly:

“I can’t really tell you which way the new Green Arrow [lands], but Dinah and Rene will be arguing that point for a little bit. They’ll be on different sides for a little bit,” said Schwartz, adding this isn’t a Vigilante situation and it won’t take a full season and change for him to be unmasked. “We’ll definitely unveil and explore before the end of the season, for sure.”

Just a week after we received news that Iron First was cancelled, there was more surprising news with Netflix cancelling Luke Cage. It is presumably a consequence of a combination of cost of the show, reported creative differences, and the deteriorating relationship between Netflix and Disney as Disney prepares to start its own streaming service.

Due to travel plans, this is being posted on Saturday instead of Sunday and does not include my usual weekly review of this week’s episode of Doctor Who. Review of The Ghost Monument here and The Woman Who Fell To Earth here. Most likely my review of Rosa will be posted next weekend (and I am looking forward to getting away from the same-day reviews). Doctor Who TV does have an advanced, spoiler-free, review of Rosa here. An excerpt:

Compared to some episodes where Doctor Who has only subtly touched on racism in period settings, “Rosa” does not shy away or sugarcoat its portrayal of the divide in 1955, with abhorrent acts on full display almost as soon as the gang steps out of the TARDIS. Ryan and Yaz are subjected to verbal and even physical abuse, that some may find tough to stomach.

Although the episode deals with weighty issues, there is still time for a little levity and pleasant character moments. The Doctor and Graham’s hotel room charade leads to one great gag. Meanwhile, Ryan and Yaz are able to intensify their bond in the face of adversity. This allows for some of their best material so far.

Of course we have Rosa Parks herself leading the guest cast, portrayed by UK star Vinette Robinson (The A Word, Sherlock). Some may remember it’s also not her first Whoniverse appearance, having starred in Chibnall’s pre-showrunner Doctor Who episode “42”. Robinson does well here to play what must have been tough boots to fill, though perhaps an African-American actor would have been a better pick to allow for a more natural accent?

There are no monsters in the episode, that’s to say there’s no traditional costumed/CGI threat of the week. Whilst there are plenty of horrifying people on display, Joshua Bowman steps forward as the main villain, Krasko. A character you could crudely sum up as a “racist Captain Jack”, just lacking the charisma (though he does have a [redacted]). For all his posturing though, he doesn’t quite demonstrate enough of a threat.

Trailer below:

SciFi Weekend: Interview with Jodie Whittaker; Sonequa Martin-Green, Mary Wiseman, and Doug Jones on Star Trek Discovery; Better Call Saul Season Finale; The Expanse; American Gods; Review of Doctor Who, The Ghost Monument


As I wrote in my review of The Woman Who Fell To Earth last week, Jodie Whittaker is doing an excellent job of portraying a newly regenerated Time Lord, still a bit confused about her role, who has changed from a Scotsman to a woman, yet still is clearly the Doctor. I will place my review of the second episode at the end to make it easier for those who are reading this before it aired to look away and avoid spoilers. For now, here are excerpts from an interview with Jodie Whittaker with Vulture:

When you were announced as the Doctor last summer, a lot of articles tried stirring the pot with headlines about a backlash, but I didn’t see that much vitriol on social media. Do you think the media was complicit in making a big fuss out of your casting, when, in fact, the overwhelming consensus was positive?
My limited perspective comes from the U.K. and its media. Not social media, because I’m not on it, so all of that went over my head. Sure, there were concerns or strange interpretations from fans. I think the negative responses were relatively small. Of course, when any Doctor changes — David [Tennant] to Matt [Smith], Matt to Peter [Capaldi], Peter to me — there’s an inevitable loss of the familiar. The suggestion that I’ve “ruined the show” or have “gone against the show” are coming from people who aren’t necessarily Whovians. If they understood the world, they know that Matt and David aren’t aliens. Peter isn’t an alien! Their gender is as irrelevant as mine as. As a political moment, or as a moment as a woman in the industry, it is relevant. But within the world of Doctor Who, it really isn’t.

It’s hard because for some people, Peter was their only Doctor. They haven’t lived through a regeneration before. It’s like you’re letting go of something. But the wonderful thing about the show is a celebration of change and evolution. There’s no point in making changes if you’re not going to do new things. I think the biggest misconception right now is that a woman has “ruined” the show.

That reminds me of one of your lines in the season premiere, which is something like, “I haven’t bought women’s clothes in a long time.” It suggests that the Doctor has been a woman before, but we just haven’t seen it on-screen.
Yeah, and there are a lot of things that reference what the show has done before — you’ll have to wait and see. The Doctor has three friends in the TARDIS now, even though it’s been traditional in the modern era to be one or two. Chris gets asked why he wants to “break form” in that way, and he’s like, Uh no, going back, that was always how it was on the show…

It’s one thing to have an anonymous Twitterbot spew stupid, misogynistic stuff about your casting, but when a former Doctor Peter Davison says he has doubts because it’s a “loss of a role model for boys,” does that give you pause?
I feel for him, because I feel he was misinterpreted. I don’t think it was a true reflection of what he was trying to say. Regardless of what was said, the mythology of “boys can only look up to boys” whereas “women are expected to look up to men,” it was never a question that our role models are men. But men have looked up to women their entire lives. Mothers, aunts, bosses — there are many versions of female heroes within our lives that are regardless of gender.

If someone actually came up to you and said, “I’m not watching the show anymore because the Doctor is a woman,” how would you respond?
I suppose I’d say, I think you have some internal issues that need addressing. I wonder if their mothers would be proud of that comment. [Laughs.] Some people are capable of change, but it isn’t worth engaging with, necessarily.

Let’s talk about your grand entrance! What were the conversations like surrounding that scene, especially in regards to the revelation of the Doctor discovering her new gender?
It was the second day on-set that I got to actually say all of those lines and do all of that jumping. I was like, Are you fucking kidding me? Jumping? You bastards! That hero speech is when I remember who I am. When I’m like, I thought my legs used to be longer!, it was a joy to play around with. It’s a nod to the fans, but if you haven’t seen the show before it’s okay, because it adds to the mystery of the character. Watching it back, it’s the most extraordinary entrance I’ve ever had to do.

In the premiere, the Stenza warrior mockingly tells the Doctor that she has a “tiny mind.” I didn’t necessarily think it was a gender-specific slight, but it did make me wonder: Will the Doctor’s new gender affect the way she’s treated by her adversaries? 
It definitely comes from things like history. I can’t speak to specifics, but there are moments when you venture into the past when relationships would be different. Like you said, we’re potentially going to times when women weren’t able to have a voice. The “tiny mind” thing was definitely character-to-character, not men-to-women. I don’t think gender played a role in the warrior’s motivation.

Are there motivations in future episodes when gender becomes more prevalent?
They do. There are times when we potentially go into history where gender is referenced, sometimes through others characters, too. But it’s irrelevant with the Doctor. The Doctor is the Doctor. The character isn’t lost because it’s in a female form. Maybe sometimes other people’s reactions are different because it’s a woman and not a man, but that’s as far as it goes.

I’ll get back to Doctor Who below. Meanwhile, we heard from yet another female lead of a science fiction franchise which began in the 1960’s, Sonequa Martin-Green of Star Trek: Discovery. From a a roundtable press interview as reported by TrekMovie.com from New York Comic Con:

Will Michael Burnham’s redemption arc continue in season two?

Oh for sure. The redemption continues, at least the journey to redemption continues, because what I realized as Burnham is that I have to forgive myself. I’ve been sort of redeemed, professionally speaking. I’ve been reinstated into Starfleet. I’ve been redeemed interpersonally. A lot of my coworkers and dear friends and loved ones have forgiven me and understood why I made the choices that I made, though they weren’t the right ones. But I do definitely have to forgive myself, and I carry a lot of guilt, as Burnham.

That’s a huge cornerstone for me, shame and guilt, because of things that happened, namely the murder of my parents, which was because of me. That’s a hell of a lot for a child to take on and carry with them through their maturation. So the redemption has to continue and it has to include a forgiveness and acceptance of my very self, and I say to Sarek in the pilot, that my emotions inform my logic, but what I need to find next is how my logic then informs my emotion. And that will show a synergy of all the parts of me. An acceptance of my emotion, an acceptance of my logic, an acceptance of my humanity, an acceptance of my Vulcan indoctrination … which is the journey of every human being, right? We have to find a way to accept all the parts of us and figure out how they work together, right? And we want that to be a seamless working together, but that’s a long journey for all of us. And that’s certainly the journey that’s continuing for me.

How would you define Burnham’s relationship with Spock?

Complicated. Difficult. Strenuous. We don’t shy away from that, either, which I love. And season 2, as I said in the panel just now, is deeply emotional. And I pray and hope that people can go on the journey with us wholeheartedly because it will wrench your heart. Because it is so deeply emotional. And of course, as we saw in the trailer, that wonderful trailer, that there’s lots of action, but this season digs down to a deeper emotional level than season 1 did. And I’m hoping that people just grit their teeth and are at the edge of their seats and take it in.

Are we going to find out why Spock has never told anyone about Michael?

Oh gosh, yeah. And we mentioned that too, you know … there’s a long game with Star Trek: Discovery. Because it is hyper-serialized, and because it is a novel told in chapters, there is a through-line, and there are conceptual weavings that take time to unravel – that might have been a mixed metaphor, but we’re just going to go with it – but I really encourage everyone to trust that every single question that we raise in Star Trek: Discovery that may seem like it’s not canon-compliant, every one of those questions gets answered. Every one.

Does Burnham wrestle with her spur-of-the-moment decision to bring back Mirror Georgiou?

For sure. What you’ll see in season 2 with Burnham – and with everyone else – is the aftermath. You’ll see the residual after the war, the war is over now, and now there’s time to think about everything that’s happened. And to look at the mess we’ve left behind and what we’ll do with it. And now, who are we? And where are we, and what are we doing, and what have I done and who am I now? And who are we now? Because there is a lot of aftermath after that war, there’s a lot of residual effect from the war. So that is just one of them – this huge decision that I made to bring Georgiou back, I will certainly be wrestling with that along with every other decision that was made throughout the course of season 1.

More at TrekMovie.com with full interview in this video:

In other interviews at New York Comic Con, Mary Wiseman and Doug Jones discussed Discovery and how their Short Treks episodes fit in:

Mary Wiseman: Yeah, I think it should take place sort of somewhere non-specific, in the timeline of season 2. So it’s not specific. And they wanted that so that it could be standalone. So people who don’t watch it, they can still appreciate the season, but also it’s an enriching sort of character story, deepens the character. So it’s set kind of where we are now, but not very specifically. We wanted to leave that open… Definitely after the medal ceremony, like you said.

Doug Jones: You’ll notice her hair, too. The hair might be a giveaway with where we are in the timeline.

Mary Wiseman: I was really obsessed with, just, you know, evolving from the bun into a pony.

Does “Runaway” affect what happens in season two?

Mary Wiseman: No, not sort of… super-specifically. The way that they exist in the world is more of a character study and a character deepening and a backstory – you get to see my mom, you know – it’s just like, I think it fleshes out a little bit who this character is. I don’t think we want it to directly affect the season, so if someone hasn’t seen it, they can still totally comprehend, and it will totally make sense.

Doug, can you tell us about your Short Treks episode (“The Brightest Star”)?

Doug Jones: The thing about all the four of the shorts we have so far, is that they’re all very different from each other, and they all take place in different moods, different time periods, different everything. Different characters. So mine is actually – you’re going to learn how Saru became a part of Starfleet. So mine goes back, so there are breadcrumbs that you’ll find in season 2 that you’ll find in the short film as well. So mine does have a direct tie with hints. But, like Mary just said, you can watch one or the other, with a complete story, without having to see the other one.

Season four of Better Call Saul ended with Jimmy talking about his plans for returning to practice law: “S’all good man!” In other words, we are seeing the birth of Saul Goodman. We also saw major development in Mike Ehrmantraut. Vulture spoke with showrunner Peter Gould:

What was the finale’s most dramatic moment: Mike executing Werner or Jimmy announcing his intent to practice as Saul?
This is a show with two sides: There’s the Mike Ehrmantraut side and the Jimmy McGill side. They’re two very different kinds of drama. On the one hand, you’re seeing the death of Werner Ziegler, and on the other, you might be seeing, possibly, the death of Jimmy McGill as we’ve known him. One is irrevocable, and one perhaps might still have a shot at redemption. I don’t know whether I can say one was more dramatic than the other…

Has Kim been trying to meet Jimmy halfway as he drifts further down his path, or is she still a mystery herself?
Yeah, Kim does try to meet Jimmy halfway. These two people have a lot in common. The first season, we saw Kim smile when he was doing that whole billboard scam. She enjoys the roguish side of Jimmy, but she believes that has to be put in its place. She seems to draw a very definite line between scamming and her legal work — until this season. If you squint at it one way, Jimmy’s dragging Kim down. If you turn your head and squint at it the other way, she’s facilitating his slide.

Kim is a relative blank slate compared to so many regular characters on Saul. Is that equally daunting and exciting?
One of the things that gratifies me the most is how much passion our audience has for thinking about Kim’s future, and how worried folks are when I talk to them about Kim. It’s really a tribute to Rhea Seehorn. Her character’s not quite like any character I’ve seen before. She has the best poker face of anybody I’ve seen, but she puts great intellect into the decisions she makes. But she also has an emotional, impulsive side, and someone who, like Jimmy has, pulled herself up by the bootstraps. I’m worried that she’s going to lose that, or lose her life, because we know Jimmy’s about to enter the same world of violence Mike has been living in. It gives us a world of possibilities in a show where a lot of the character’s fates are known already. All I can say is, I’d be very sorry if something terrible happened to Kim, but there’s a lot of things that can happen to people that don’t involve violent deaths.

The show isn’t moralistic, but it does put forward a point of view that you can’t just dip your toe into criminal life. Is that by design?
Hopefully it’s not a moralistic show, but we’re exploring a lot of questions about what’s okay to do. How do people get the things they want? How do they decide what they want? We talk a lot in the writers room about what the characters should be doing, and why doesn’t the character make the choice that in our eyes would be the most moral? There is a moral dimension, otherwise you just have chaos. One of the things I love in drama is it gives us all a chance to work out different possible lives. We’re all really law-abiding people in the writers room, so maybe it’s fun for us to race our minds over other ways to be in the world.

Peter Gould also spoke with Entertainment Weekly:

You’ve said that you kept pushing back Jimmy’s moment of transformation from as early as season 1 because you fell for Jimmy and loved exploring this character. Was it hard to finally let that moment happen? And why is now the right time?
I never felt like we were delaying it. It always felt like we hadn’t earned it. The Jimmy McGill we met in the first season of Better Call Saul was so very distant and different from Saul Goodman. And always the question we were asking ourselves and beating our heads against the wall trying to answer was, how does this guy become Saul Goodman? What we started with was, what is the problem that becoming Saul Goodman solves? And I think what we realized gradually, especially in season 4, was that the problem that becoming Saul Goodman solves is, “I don’t want to be Jimmy McGill anymore.” Saul Goodman is a choice that Jimmy makes — and I don’t think he’s made it all the way. I don’t think he’s exactly the Saul Goodman we met on Breaking Bad yet. Not by a long shot. I don’t think he’s ready to suggest murder to his clients, for instance. But assuming that separate identity is going to give him a lot of freedom. And I think he craves that freedom. Right now as the season ends, he thinks that there’s no contradiction between having that freedom of being Saul Goodman and also going home and being with Kim. We’ll see if he can have it both ways.

After Jimmy’s moment of triumph with the appeals board, Kim is stunned to see that he was faking it for the board. Does their relationship ever really recover from that moment? Especially coupled with that parking lot rooftop fight, which ended with her lacerating him with the comeback, “You’re always down, Jimmy.”
Wow! Oh, boy. That’s a great question because Jimmy has never fooled Kim before. He’s never scammed her. And now he has scammed her. But I will say two things that give me a little bit of hope for their relationship. First of all, that was an awful fight on the roof. But also, maybe it’s a door to a more honest relationship. Possibly. Because the two of them have been keeping their own counsel about so many things, there have been so many sins of omission between them: Kim started doing public defender work and she didn’t mention it to Jimmy for quite a while, and Jimmy was selling phones on the street and wasn’t telling Kim. I think they’re in a different place. There’s a little bit more honesty there because Jimmy especially has expressed his fears about the relationship. They came out as accusations, but in another way of looking at it, they are and were his fears. So it’s a question. I think it can go either way after an argument like that. And Jimmy doesn’t know that he fooled Kim. He may have scammed her, but his back was to her in that room. He was scamming the members of the board. We’ll see. I think that these two have a deep affection for each other, and I think they may have a little further to go down the road. I’m hoping.

In other genre news, Netflix has cancelled Iron Fist after two seasons. It was definitely the weakest of their Marvel series. I have seen some speculation that it might return when Disney starts their upcoming streaming service.

CBS and Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence are working on an adaption of DC’s Secret Six comics.

The Expanse cast did not make New York Comic Con, but Amazon did release the above video.

Neil Gaiman said at New York Comic Con that current plans are for at least five seasons of American Gods. According to I09, the second season will look at social media and the surveillance state.

I will now return to Doctor Who, with a warning that there are spoilers for those who have not seen The Ghost Monument. Jodie Whittaker was again great, but the jury is still out on the writing by Chris Chibnall. I did not expect a very complicated episode last week, consider all the table-setting that had to be done, but I did wonder if Chibnall might have lost an opportunity because of new viewers turning in. This week we had the typical second episode for a new Doctor, taking the companions into space–even if somewhat accidental this time. The problem, as the Doctor described it was, “We’ve been dumped in space, we’ve got spaceships crashing all around us, now we’re marooned on a planet that everyone else seems to be running to get away from.”

Unfortunately the actual episode was much smaller than this. Early in the episode it looked like they had come across the tent from The Great British Bake Off. A great race which included 209 terrains and over 94 planets was down to two contestants, location shots of desert from South Africa, and some pretty simplistic robots who could not hit anyone. Epzo and Angstrom were okay as guest characters. The closest thing to a villain was a hologram, to which the Doctor commented, “I was a hologram for three weeks – the gossip I picked up.” Not that I didn’t enjoy seeing a simple story with the Doctor and her new companions, but more might have been done to try to hook new viewers.

The trek did provide for some character development. Ryan again had a tendency to touch things he should not, and was given a lesson in why guns are not good to use. Ryan and Graham are having difficulty connecting after the death of Grace, and I suspect we will see development in their relationship over the course of the series. We will also need to watch for more references to the Stenza to see if they become a season-long threat, and there was the mysterious mention of the Timeless Child. The episode might seem more important down the road if they build upon these.

The highlights of the episode were the new title sequence and seeing the inside of the TARDIS (complete with biscuit dispenser). In addition, there were sunglasses in the episode which were previously worn by worn by either Audrey Hepburn or Pythagoras. (Somehow they were in the Doctor’s pocket even though she had empty pockets last week and had not been back to the TARDIS yet.)

The title sequence is in the video above. The video below shows the newly designed TARDIS with a description from Production Designer, Arwel Wyn Jones: