SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Returns; The Orville; AOC Quotes Watchmen; Donald Trump and Batman; Possible West Wing Revival

Star Trek: Discovery returned last week, following a final Short Trek staring Rainn Wilson reprising his role as Harry Mudd. Brother was more in line with traditional Star Trek compared to the last season, with Christopher Pike making it clear he was not Captain Lorca. Spock was central to the episode, but we only saw young Spock, living in a home inspired by Marie Kondo. Young Spock definitely displayed human emotion in showing jealousy towards a new adopted sibling.

The episode will please some who felt season one strayed from what they see as true Star Trek, but not everyone will be happy. The technology continued to look like it was far beyond what we saw in The Original Series, and possibly Next Generation, which is inevitable for a show produced in the twenty-first century as opposed the nineteen sixties. Another huge break from canon was that the officer in the blue shirt was killed as opposed to the one in the red shirt, but Connelly’s death was clearly foreshadowed.

It took until the second season, but we finally found out that members of the Discovery bridge crew actually do have names. Elsewhere on the ship it is suggested that  Stamets is leaving, but I suspect that we might never see his transfer to teach at  the Vulcan Science Academy actually take place. Whether or not he leaves, a new engineer, Jett Reno (played by Tig Notaro), was introduced, who fits more into the mode of ship engineer who can do miracles.

We have not seen adult Spock yet, but I suspect that this might not come for a while, as the season searches for both Spock and the Red Angel. Nor have we seen Rebecca Romjin as Number One. In an interview with Romjin at TrekMovie.com, she said she is not allowed to say when she will first appear. While it might not be her first appearance, I noted that the picture above was labeled as DSC 204. She also had this to say about the character:

What characteristics did you bring to Number One as a person?

Romijn: Well you know, she was only in that one episode. So as an actor, you want a certain amount of liberty to help a character unfold, obviously. She’s got a vast skill set, she’s obviously Captain Pike’s number one, second in command, he feels comfortable leaving her in charge of the Enterprise when he’s not there. I don’t even think we know how vast her skill set is, I think there’s a lot of exploration to do. She knows her shit. I want her to be a little bit of a fast-talking dame, in a way. It was fun. It was really fun to play her.

Do you have scenes with characters other than Pike?

Romijn: Yes. Yes I do.

Can you tell us which ones?

Romijn: No! I feel so scared to reveal anything, like … the number of letters we’ve gotten and emails, I was scared to post anything on Instagram. I can’t say anything.

More on the relationship between Pike and Number one at TV Guide:  “I think that Captain Pike relies on Number One in a very deep way. I think they’re very close. I think she’s got the skill set that he depends on,” she says. “I think that he would feel confident leaving the ship in her hand if he had to and there’s room to explore it further.”

Alex Kurtzman discussed the episode with The Hollywood Reporter:

Discovery season one seemed like a declarative end of a chapter with the Federation-Klingon war coming to its conclusion. Why did you choose to start the second chapter by bringing in the Enterprise, considering its notoriety?

We discover in season one that Michael has a relationship with Spock. The mystery of why Spock, who we’ve known for over 50 years, has never mentioned his sister, is huge. It felt like there was no way we were going to be able to answer that question in one or two episodes. It was easily going to be the substance of a whole season. This season is a deep-dive into that relationship and what went wrong, their history and where they’re headed. That excited me. It’s the unwritten chapter of how Spock became the character that we meet in the original series. We’ll come to understand that were it not for his relationship with Michael, many of the things we know and love about Spock may not have flowered in the way that they did.

What prompted your characterization of Pike, considering what the audience has seen of him in other depictions?

He’s established as a pretty specific figure in [the original series episodes] “The Menagerie” and “The Cage.” And obviously, I have Bruce Greenwood in my mind from my work on the J.J. Abrams movies. Everybody thinks of Pike as a noble, just and kind captain. It felt right that in the wake of a captain like Lorca who was so manipulative and wreaked havoc on the ship, we needed a captain who was 180 degrees in the other direction. It felt like an interesting and different take, a new flavor for the show.

The episode primarily focuses on Pike attempting to solidify his dynamic with the characters aboard Discovery. How did you find the beats of seeking out that trust from both ends of the relationship?

Pike sat out the war. We’re going to learn a lot more about that over the course of the season. He sat out the war because he was ordered to, and that created a big problem for him. He had to sit there and watch many of his friends and colleagues die, and feel entirely helpless in the process. He’s a captain who wants to make up for lost time, who wants to correct an error. It was hard for him to watch all these people die, and that’s a huge part of what drives him. If a character were to caution him to slow down, that would be very difficult for him. I think that’s where we will see him find tension with this crew. It’s not because he’s manipulating him; it’s because there may be a difference in procedure. As a captain, you have to make difficult decisions that may require allowing certain members of your crew to be at risk to save others. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Let’s talk about the introduction of this mystery of the seven signals, as well as the “Red Angel.” These were both featured prominently in the trailers leading up to the premiere and served as a crucial part of the episode as well. How did you come up with these mystical enigmas?

Initially, it started as a conversation about the way in which Trek has dealt with the issue of space vs. science. Gene Roddenberry had a very specific take on religion as it relates to Star Trek. In the original series, religion doesn’t exist. Yet, faith is something that has always been a major topic in different ways. The idea of this mystery that has no answer immediately suggests a presence or force greater than anything anyone has ever known. It was intriguing to us. The other reason for the Red Angel was that it sheds specific light on Spock’s dilemma at that point in his life. Spock has, as we all know, a unique relationship to logic. And logic fails him in dealing with the Red Angel. He doesn’t know whether to turn to logic or emotions to solve the mystery. The only way he can work through it is with his sister, to whom he has a very complicated relationship. It felt like a really wonderful way to get them to have to wrestle with each other over a larger mystery.

CBS All Access confirmed yet another spin-off series earlier this month with Michelle Yeoh to star, concentrating on Captain Georgiou’s role in Section 31. This will also be seen during the second season of Discovery. From the announcement:

CBS All Access today announced plans to further expand the “Star Trek” universe with a newlive-action series in development starring Michelle Yeoh. The series will expand on Yeoh’s current role as a member of Starfleet’s Section 31 division, a shadow organization within the Federation, on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, which debuts its second season Thursday, Jan. 17 exclusively on CBS All Access in the U.S., and is distributed concurrently by CBS Studios International on Netflix in 188 countries and in Canada on Bell Media’s Space channel and OTT service CraveTV.

The series will be produced by CBS Television Studios, Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth will serve as executive producers. Aaron Baiers will serve as co-executive producer along with Bo Yeon Kim, and Erika Lippoldt will also write the series.

“Michelle has shattered ceilings, broken boundaries, and astonished us with her grace and gravitas for decades. As a human, I adore her. As an actor, I revere her,” said Alex Kurtzman. “Erika and Boey are remarkable, exciting writers who bring a fresh perspective to the world of ‘Star Trek,’ and we’re all thrilled to explore the next wild chapter in the life of Captain Philippa Georgiou.”

“I’m so excited to continue telling these rich ‘Star Trek’ stories,” said Michelle Yeoh. “Being a part of this universe and this character specifically has been such a joy for me to play. I can’t wait to see where it all goes – certainly I believe it will go ‘where no WOMAN has ever gone before!’”

Michelle Yeoh is recognized as one of the greatest and the most successful actresses from the east. She can most recently be seen starring in John M. Chu’s romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” and in CBS’ STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. The former Bond girl is best known for her roles in Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and its sequel, Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha,” Roger Spottiswoode’s “Tomorrow Never Dies”and Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine.” Michelle also starred in Luc Besson’s critically acclaimed “The Lady” and voiced a role in the DreamWorks animated hit “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

The development of this new untitled series is the latest expansion of the “Star Trek” franchise. In addition to the hit original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, returning with season two on Thursday, Jan. 17, and STAR TREK: SHORT TREKS, a series of short stories tied to STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and the overall “Star Trek” universe, CBS has announced a new untitled “Star Trek” series featuring Sir Patrick Stewart, reprising his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard, as well as its first animated series, STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS, developed by Emmy Award winner Mike McMahan (“Rick and Morty”).

The Orville has also returned for its second season, last week returning to tie up a loose end from a first season episode. We are left to wonder if Billy Joel music will help promote peace. Earlier there was an episode centered around Alara, which ended with Halston Sage leaving the show. They did leave room for a future return. Jessica Szohr has been announced to be joining the cast. There is no word if Seth MacFarlane will be dating her, but there was an announcement last week that Scott Grimes and Adrianne Palicki are engaged.

In other genre and media news, following an attack from Joe Lieberman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quoted Rorschach from Watchmen.

On the other hand, last month we learned from Christian Bale that Donald Trump seemed to really think he was Bruce Wayne:

While filming a Batman scene in Trump Tower, Christian Bale got the chance to meet Donald Trump. “We were filming on Batman in Trump Tower and he said, ‘Come on up to the office,’” Bale told Variety at the premiere of the Dick Cheney biopic Vice. “I think he thought I was Bruce Wayne because I was dressed as Bruce Wayne,” he joked.

Bale said he tried to go along with it, but found it odd. “He talked to me like I was Bruce Wayne and I just went along with it, really. It was quite entertaining. I had no idea at the time that he would think about running for president.”

That isn’t the most dangerous delusion which Trump has.

Richard Schiff has spoken about a possible reboot of The West Wing.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Resolution; What If The Doctor Was A Dalek (Parody); Pike and Spock On Star Trek Discovery; The Magicians Returning

Resolution gave Doctor Who the episode it needed for a proper season finale. By this I don’t mean any cliff hangers, or big changes such as companions leaving or a regeneration. Just a good episode, much better than The Battle of Ranskoor Av Koloswith the added benefit of bringing back the most show’s most iconic villain.

Resolution also did a good job of introducing the Daleks for new viewers. Like most of the season, the episode could be enjoyed without prior knowledge of the show. This was done by limiting the story to a single Dalek who had been trapped on earth for ages, bypassing any need for explanations of matters such as the Time War. While I’m sure there are purists who will object, they also made this an advanced scout Dalek with different abilities. Yes, it is a valid objection that we have never seen Dalek’s being able to teleport fragments of their bodies, or temporarily take control of a human. On the other hand, it would be hard to do a fresh, new Dalek story without taking any liberties, and the body snatcher aspect in this episode was entertaining to watch.

As the special took place on New Year’s Day instead of the traditional Christmas, there were views of fireworks, but otherwise the holiday did not place any unnecessary restrictions on the story. Realistically they could have done this as a Christmas Day special as well, with a brief scene of Team Tardis visiting Christmas celebrations.

The episode also continued the story of Ryan’s relationship with his father. After all, this season under Chris Chibnall has essentially been Broadchurch In Space And Time. (Jody Whittaker is more season three as opposed to season one Beth Latimer.) Ryan’s father even supplied the first means of nearly destroying the Dalek. This Dalek, while resourceful in building a new outer shell (reminiscent of the Doctor building her own sonic screwdriver earlier in the season), was not all that difficult to defeat. It was defeated both by humans in the past, and by the application of the oven in the present.

This led to a second climax in which, while I though it was more likely than not that Ryan’s father would survive, there was legitimate suspense over the outcome. I was a bit surprised that both of the archaeologists came out of this alive. There were plenty of casualties, but the deaths were among unknown people who were quickly vaporized.

The other casualty of the episode was UNIT, a victim of Brexit and “funding disputes and subsequent funding withdrawal by the UK’s major financial partners.” That is quite a step down from the Doctor being President of Earth during times of alien invasion. It might be for the better that there is no longer UNIT to step in if the earth is in danger, leaving it to the Doctor to save the planet. There is nothing stopping the reestablishment of UNIT (or perhaps Torchwood) in the future.

While I still have some questions about Chibnall’s writing for the series, Jodie Whitter did answer any doubts as to a woman taking over as the Doctor. Karen Gillan responded to the “crazy resistance” to the change in an article late last year in The Hollywood Reporter:

Jodie Whittaker knocked it out of the park.

She has elements of Matt Smith and David Tennant — that manic energy, brain going 100 miles an hour — but she made it her own. And that’s the great thing about the role — it has no limits. It can be played by any race or gender. All you need is a great actor. A great British actor. Or one who can do a convincing British accent.

As for the Dalek’s, check out the parody video above which shows how there would be major differences in the show if the Doctor was a Dalek. There would be no emotion or sentimentality. Plus the Weeping Angels are not a threat as Daleks do not blink. The one thing which is not different is how fans react to changes on the show.

CBS has released the above video on Anson Mount playing Christopher Pike. Entertainment Weekly also looked at how Spock and Pike will be different:

Expect Pike to restore some civility to the big chair after last season’s traitorous Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs), and come across rather different than previous captains.

“Kirk has a swagger, and is good at thinking outside the box because he’s a rulebreaker,” Mount says. “Pike is very by-the-book. He refers to the Starfleet code of conduct more often than not. What sets him apart from other captains, especially from Lorca, is he knows like any good leader the most precious resources is his crew. when he’s stuck, he’s not afraid to say, ‘I’m lost, anybody got a better idea?’ He uses the bridge as a bigger brain.”

For hardcore fans, the biggest mystery is: What’s Spock (Ethan Peck) even doing here? And how can he be Burnham’s adopted brother when the iconic character has never mentioned her in all of the Trek canon? Showrunner Alex Kurtzman says the Spock we meet here is rather different than the Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto version.

“The Spock we meet in season 2 is not the one we know yet,” Kurtzman says. “He’s really struggling. But if it were not for his relationship with Michael, he wouldn’t become the Spock we know today.”

The Magicians returns January 13 (trailer above). Plus this new recap to bring us up to date from last season was released last week:

Last season on THE MAGICIANS, our core group embarked on the epic quest of the seven keys to restore magic after it was turned off. In the shocking finale, just as our magicians finally restored magic by unlocking the fountain at the other end of the Wellspring, the Library, Irene McAllistair and Dean Fogg swooped in to reroute magic to them.

In exchange, Dean Fogg negotiated the lives of his students, erasing their memories and giving each – except Alice who is now imprisoned by the Library – a new, magic-free identity. Even with their new identities, our core group is far from safe since inside Castle Blackspire, an ancient, powerful and unkillable Monster escaped confinement and jumped bodies to a new host, Eliot. The season ended with The Monster finding a mind-wiped Quentin, and Season 4 will pick up with The Monster seeking out the others, and something else…

THE MAGICIANS stars Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, Summer Bishil, Rick Worthy, Jade Tailor, Brittany Curran and Trevor Einhorn. The series is executive produced by John McNamara, Sera Gamble, Chris Fisher, Henry Alonso Myers and Groundswell Productions’ Michael London and Janice Williams.