SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Twin Peaks; Blade Runner; Sarah Jane Adventures Tenth Anniversary; Emmys By Network; Batman Takes A Knee

CBS has not released any screeners for Star Trek: Discovery, and has placed an embargo on reviews until the show airs. They did release the full title sequence today:

Despite the episode not being available, sites such as IO9 have posted guides like Everything You Need to Know About Star Trek: Discovery Before It Premieres based upon the information which has been released so far.

The first episode will air on CBS at 8:30 pm tonight, with the second episode following on their paid streaming service CBS All Access.  Season 1 will have fifteen episodes with the first eight episodes running September 24 through November 5. The season will return for the remaining episodes in January. CBS All Access is allowing one week free to check out the service. If you are undecided, consider waiting until later tomorrow, which will allow you to watch both the second episode this week and the third episode next week. Some people are thinking about waiting until towards the end, and then binging on each half of the season or the who season while only paying for one to two months.

Discovery will be available outside of the US and Canada on Netflix. I had contemplated using a VPN to stream the UK edition of Netflix, but Netflix has become very aggressive in blocking VPN’s.

A four-part comic will provide further backstory on the Klingons prior to the events of Discovery.

In preparation for tonight’s premiere, CBS arranged to have the U.S.S. Discovery fly above New York City. Video above. (Yes, there have been posts on line about how they staged this, but why ruin the fun?)

In unrelated Star Trek news, TrekMovie.com reports that Quentin Tarantino has expressed interest in directing a Star Trek movie.

The Orville has been difficult to characterize as it is neither straight drama or consistently humorous. While Star Trek: Discovery reportedly will be serialized, The Orville is basically stand-alone episodes heavily modeled after Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like classic Star Trek, The Orville has even made an attempt at looking at contemporary issues.

About A Girl received advanced publicity for tackling gender reassignment surgery. Just as the show has its limitations as both dramatic science fiction and as a parody, the handling of the controversial issue was also somewhat simplistic. Vox looked in more detail at how the issue was handled.

Of course we must keep in mind that Star Trek: The Next Generation was also weak through most of the first two seasons, until it ended the second season with the excellent cliffhanger, Best of Both Worlds. I’m hoping that Seth MacFarlane has the clout to keep the show alive to buy time for them to better figure out what to do with this series.

Kyle MacLachlan and Judi Dench brought the red room from Twin Peaks to The Late Late Show, frustrating host James Corden in the video above.

Wired has a look at Blade Runner 2049.

Bill Clinton is writing political fiction, just like Hillary. Bill is working on a novel with James Patterson entitled The President Is Missing. Hillary wrote a fictional account of the 2016 election in which Bernie Sanders was the villain and a character with her name was a progressive. Showtime has announced a deal to do a television adaptation of Bill’s book.

It is the tenth year anniversary of the release of The Sarah Jane Adventurers. To celebrate, the BBC is rebroadcasting three episodes and has an article posted entitled 5½ Reasons Why EVERYBODY should watch The Sarah Jane Adventures. From the article:

The show’s essential premise was simple. Take one former companion of the Doctor. Add some young sidekicks; season with familiar foes like Sontarans and the Slitheen and for good measure, throw in the Doctor himself for a couple of stories. Then stir them all together in two-part adventures where the planet’s in peril but our heroes still have time for a few one-liners and a group hug at the end.

Except, of course, it’s not as easy as that. SJA worked because it hit just the right blend of alien scares and human drama. The childless Sarah Jane gets a family. Her alien son learns what it means to be human. The cocksure Clyde Langer finds there’s more to this world than he ever imagined… Just like Doctor Who, it was a show that revelled in adventure but always found time to explore and celebrate its characters without patronising its audience.

The article noted appearances by both Matt Smith and David Tennant.

The Handmaid’s Tale was among the big winners at the Emmy Awards last week. I looked at the best political jokes from the awards ceremony earlier in the week. This included a video of the skit with Stephen Colbert and Jeffry Wright based upon Westworld. 

By now I’m sure everyone interested has already seen the full lists of winners and read plenty about the awards so I will not say much more here. I did find these lists interesting, showing the expected superiority of cable and streaming. Here is a list compiled by Deadline of those winning awards at last week’s ceremony:

HBO: 10
NBC: 6
Hulu: 5
Netflix: 4
FX: 2

The second list includes all those who won three or more awards, including the Creative Arts awards which were presented earlier:

HBO: 29
Netflix: 20
NBC: 15
Hulu: 10
ABC: 7
FX Networks: 6
Fox: 5
Adult Swim: 4
CBS: 4
A&E: 3
VH1: 3

Francesco Francavilla has tweeted a picture of Batman taking a knee, showing support for the NFL players who have been protesting racial injustice and police brutality by taking a knee when the National Anthem is played before the start of an NFL game. Donald Trump has demanded that the players be fired or suspended. This statement has been protested by players and owners, but now Trump also has to deal with Batman. Besides Batman, Trump is also opposed by the next best thing, Jim Harbaugh, who said, “No, I don’t agree with the president. That’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.”

Update: Adding to responses from Michigan football heroes, Tom Brady said, “I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive.”

Late Night Comedians On Donald Trump Declining To Throw First Pitch

This might not be the most important way in which Donald Trump has varied from the norms for a president, but it did receive attention when he declined to throw the ceremonial first pitch. The Washington Post reported:

Presidents have regularly thrown out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day for Washington’s major league team going back more than a century, but the tradition will not resume this year. The Nationals invited President Trump to do the honors on Monday afternoon, when the team opens its 2017 season at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins, but the White House declined the invitation on Tuesday, citing a scheduling conflict, according to Nationals spokeswoman Jen Giglio.

Late night comedians responded:

“President Trump turned down a chance to throw out the opening day pitch for the Washington Nationals. Turned it down! For some reason, Trump doesn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of large Hispanic men holding baseball bats.”–Conan O’Brien

“The White House says President Trump will not throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals game. Apparently Trump was afraid of hurting his tweeting arm.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump does not know how to throw a baseball. That’s what’s going on here…Which is weird. He also doesn’t know how to run a country but he’s not embarrassed to try that….

“I bet a Trump pitch would get about as far as his healthcare bill. You know, just drop halfway down to the plate. And then he’d blame Paul Ryan.”–Trevor Noah

“Today we learned that Trump is violating another norm because he won’t throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ opening day. I don’t know why. Maybe he’s worried his hands are too small to palm a baseball…

“Here we go, America! Trump won’t throw out the first pitch. What else? He won’t go to the Correspondents’ Dinner. He won’t release his tax returns. He won’t put his business in a blind trust. He doesn’t want to live in D.C. What presidential tradition will Trump abandon next? This Thanksgiving, those turkeys better run.”–Stephen Colbert

Captain America vs. Religious Discrimination: Marvel Studios Protests Georgia Religious Liberties Law

Captain America

There are many opponents to the so-called “religious liberties” proposals from conservatives. In this case “religious liberty” means the liberty for conservatives to impose their religious views on  others. Variety reports that the Walt Disney Company is joining other groups which are opposing such laws, including recent legislation in Georgia.

The Walt Disney Co. and Marvel Studios indicated opposition to a Georgia religious liberty bill pending before Gov. Nathan Deal, saying that they will take their business elsewhere “should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.”

With generous tax incentives, Georgia has become a production hub, with Marvel currently shooting “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” at Pinewood Studios outside Atlanta. “Captain America: Civil War” shot there last summer.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a Disney spokesman said on Wednesday.

The MPAA, representing major studios, has already spoken out against the legislation. On Monday, an MPAA official called the pending legislation “discriminatory,” but expressed confidence that Deal would not sign it…

On Saturday, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin urged studios and production companies to refuse to commit to any further productions in Georgia if Deal does not veto the legislation.

Georgia legislators passed the bill last week. It protects religious officials from having to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, and would allow faith-based organizations to deny services or employment to those who violate their “sincerely held religious belief.”

Perhaps the risk of economic repercussions will affect Governor Deal’s decision as to whether to sign the bill. Besides opposition from Disney and other entertainment companies, sports organizations including the NCAA and the NFL have issued protests, along with several Fortune 500 companies and major tech companies.

The Hollywood Reporter adds:

The bill poses a dilemma for Deal, who is regarded as pro-business, since major corporations headquartered in Atlanta such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS and Cox Enterprises have opposed the bill, joining a business coalition called Georgia Prospers that has stated “for Georgia businesses to compete for top talent, we must have workplaces and communities that are diverse and welcoming for all people, no matter one’s race, sex, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The controversy also comes just as Georgia is trumpeting its success in attracting film and television productions to the state, which offers attractive tax credits of up to 30 percent.

On Feb. 22, the governor joined other Georgia officials in celebrating Film Day, at which it was reported that during fiscal year 2015, which ran from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, film and TV productions spent more than $1.7 billion directly in the state, which, in turn, generated a record $6 billion in economic impact.

During fiscal 2015, Georgia played host to 248 feature film, TV movies and series. Among them were such pics as the current Miracles From Heaven and Allegiant as well as TV series including AMC’s The Walking Dead, The CW’s The Vampire Diaries and Fox’s Sleepy Hollow.

Carly Fiorina Takes Pandering To A New Low During Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl got peripherally involved in politics for second reason, in addition to the skywriter who wrote “Trump is Disgusting” over the Rose Parade. Carly Fiorina showed that she might be the worst panderer of all among politicians. Before the Rose Bowl, in which Iowa played against Stanford, Fiorina tweeted: “Love my alma mater, but rooting for a Hawkeyes win today.”

She is saying she is rooting against her own school to pander to Iowa voters. It is one thing to live in a state and extol its virtues (even if we don’t really believe the candidate believes what they are saying), or even alter their accent depending upon where they speaking as Hillary Clinton does. It is a little more questionable ethically, but not unexpected, for a candidate to alter their positions based upon regional issues. However, to betray one’s school in such a manner will fool nobody and is far more likely to result in distrust and contempt than support.

I know several alumni of my alma mater’s rivals at Ohio State and Michigan State. I don’t expect them to do anything but support their teams and they don’t expect me to do anything but support Michigan. Needless to say, responses on Twitter were overwhelmingly negative.

And congratulations to Jim Harbaugh on his tenth win of the season, the first of many bowl victories in the Citrus Bowl, and a possible top ten finish in his first year back home in Ann Arbor.

#goblue

Trump Is Disgusting, And Other Bad News For Donald

Iowa voters might not like how the Rose Bowl game is going, and Donald Trump probably does not like this message  which was written in the sky over the Rose Parade: “America is great. Trump is disgusting. Anybody but Trump.” This was paid for by a donor for Marco Rubio, who says there’s more to come.

While none of this will necessarily impact the Republican nomination, this isn’t the only bad news for Trump. Buzzfeed reports that the co-writer of Trumps’s 2000 campaign book will not vote for him:

The co-author of Donald Trump’s 2000 campaign book says the Republican front-runner is a “no class” person whose political beliefs are difficult to pin down…

When asked if he would vote for Trump, Shiflett said no.

“I’ll tell you what really bugs me about him, where it really ripped it with me and Trump was the stuff he said about McCain,” he said. “McCain suffered severely and I had a son who did two tours in Middle East during the last war and we had kids from here who went over there and some of them got hurt. They ain’t gonna be the same.”

“That’s gonna come back to haunt him. For a guy who never served, to say something like that is just..,” he continued.

Asked about Trump calling people losers, Shiflett said, “It’s just no class, what it boils down to. What’s the point of doing that? He doesn’t have to do that.”

He also pointed out how progressive Trump’s past political beliefs were.

Trump mistakingly blames Barack Obama for one of his problems:

Donald J. Trump appears to be more concerned about the quality of his hair than the quality of the air.

Mr. Trump has offered little in the way of an environmental policy during his presidential campaign, but on Wednesday he said that President Obama’s concerns about the environment were infringing on his rights as a consumer. More pressing than saving the ozone layer, he suggested, was the freedom to buy aerosol hairspray.

“You can’t use hairspray because hairspray is going to affect the ozone,” Mr. Trump said during a rally in South Carolina. “They don’t want me to use hairspray, they want me to use the pump.”

Trump is as mistaken in this attack on Obama as in many of his other attacks:

Aerosol sprays were actually phased out in the United States in the 1990s, years before Mr. Obama was president, and the ban resulted from the Montreal Protocol in 1987, signed by President George H. W. Bush, which sought to curtail the damage aerosol products did to the disappearing ozone layer. Since then, the hairspray industry has been able to find substitutes that produce the same misty effect of CFCs and aerosol.

Related: Carly Fiorina Takes Pandering To A New Low During Rose Bowl

News Briefs: Donald Trump, Kim Davis, and Tom Brady

DONALD-TRUMP

A few brief comments on items in the news today:

Donald Trump signed the pledge that he will support the Republican candidate and not run as a third party candidate. He says, “no circumstances under which I would tear up that pledge. … I have no intention of changing my mind.” However, there is no way to hold him to it. It is not as if they could penalize him by taking away delegates at the convention if he loses the nomination and goes decides to run as an independent. At the moment Trump has a strong lead in the polls. The question remains as to whether the party will unite behind someone else as the weaker candidates are driven from the race.

By now I’m sure that everyone has heard that Kim Davis is to be jailed for contempt of court for refusing to obey the law and issue marriage certificates for same-sex couples. Republicans, who see religious liberty as the freedom to impose their religious views on others, are upset with this. GOP candidates including  Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul are coming to her defense. The main reason I am bringing this up is that I’m seeing a lot of comments on social media suggesting that the logical move would be to fire her. She is an elected official and cannot be fired.

The other major legal decision of the day was that a federal judge has thrown out the four game suspension of Tom Brady over deflategate. The NFL is appealing the decision.

SciFi Weekend: Mr Robot; Hannibal; Yvonne Craig; Luke Cage; Manhattan; Mockingbird Spin-Off; Hugo Awards Controversy (And A Win For Orphan Black)

Mr Robot Mirroring

Mr. Robot continued with the revelations started last week. Once again, there are major spoilers for anyone who might be behind on the series. At the start of Mirroring, it was revealed that Elliot’s father did work as Mr. Robot, repairing 1990’s era computers. In a flashback to 1994, Elliot stole money from a customer. His father decided against punishing him saying, “Even though what you did was wrong, you’re still a good kid. And that guy was a prick. Sometimes that matters more.” This appears to have influenced Elliot’s moral code, providing justification for his current activities.

The story jumped ahead to present, and appeared to center around Elliot and his father. At the end, in a common television trope, Elliot wound up at his father’s grave. He was confronted by both  Angela and Darlene, and was forced to confront the truth. “You’re going to make me say it aren’t you? I am Mr. Robot.”

It was confirmed that his father really had died years previously, as previously stated on the show. Elliot and his sister Darlene had formed FSociety. Apparently at some point Elliot as seen in the show had forgotten all of this and created Mr. Robot in his head, looking like his dead father. The scenes in which Elliot interacted with Mr. Robot were all taking place in Elliot’s head.  It would now be interesting to go back to the rare scenes showing Mr. Robot actually interacting with others, most notably his recent conversation with Tyrell. Most likely this was Elliott speaking with Tyrell, but not having memory of this when seen as Elliott. I also wonder if some of the scenes with Tyrell, possibly including his conversation with Mr. Robot, were actually things imagined by Elliott.

The episode also included more on Angela and Tyrell, but it was Tyrell’s story which was more interesting. Tyrell has now lost his job, and at the end really is working with Elliot, but not how it was suggested at the start of the season.

Nerdist interviewed Carly Chaikin  (Darlene) after it was revealed that she was Elliot’s sister.

Nerdist: Speaking of controlled vision: the reveal in “White Rose” had everyone I know going “wait whaaaaaaaa—”

Carly Chaikin: Well I knew from the beginning that I was his sister. From the very, very beginning Rami [Malek, who plays Elliot] and I both knew—Christian [Slater], Portia [Doubleday] and I all knew, pretty much. All I knew, though, was that Sam [told me], “Yeah he tries to kiss you and then you’re like, ‘I’m your sister.’” So I didn’t know how that was going to play out, or any details or anything, so I’d been waiting for episode 8 to see how it happened. It was exciting to see it, for real, in the script. There’s so much craziness that happens and it’s so hard to keep it in. Especially with something like that. People would say to me, “OK how do you fit into the show? Why are you so weird?” and all I could say was, “Well, you’ll see.”

Nerdist: Was it hard to navigate that—leaving clues but not projecting that you knew the twist—while still bringing a fully realized Darlene to the scene?

CC: Really, the way I played it is like he’s my brother and he knows it. Because how could he not know it, you know? It was just a natural brother/sister relationship. Like in episode two when we’re on the subway and Elliot says, “How do you know where I live?” And I gave him a look like, “Why wouldn’t I know where you live?” But because nobody knew and were seeing it through a different set of eyes, it wasn’t something that necessarily read as that.

Now that we sort of know what is going on, there is one more episode this seasons to see what becomes of it. Fortunately the show was already renewed for a second season.

Hannibal The Number of the Beast

The Number of the Beast is leading towards the finale of the Red Dragon arc on Hannibal, and possibly the end of the series. As of now, next week’s episode is the series finale on NBC, with some speculation of the show continuing on a more irregular basis elsewhere. It was not a good week for Frederick Chilton, with Bedelia probably being right in telling Will, “Maybe you wanted to put Chilton at risk.” While the arc is showing the transformation of Francis Dolarhyde, Will Graham has been slowly undergoing a transformation of his own for the entire series.

Alana and Jack think they are in control when they devise the plan involving Chilton, Graham, and Freddie Lounds, but once again it is Hannibal who is really in control. This includes Hannibal getting Dolarhyde to burn Chilton’s body in the same way that Freddie Lounds’ body was apparently burned in a previous attempt to trap Hannibal.

The manner in which scenes were edited helped emphasize the message of the episode. Will asked Alana, as they devised their plan, “Are you volunteering?”  Alana replied, “No, I’d have to be a fool.” Then they cut to Chilton. We know the series is not ending well for Chilton, but I suspect that not many characters will come out in good shape after next week’s finale.

Yvonne_Craig_Star_Trek

Yvonne Craig, best known as Batgirl on the 1960’s Batman series, died last week of metastatic breast cancer. She also played an Orion slave girl on the Star Trek episode, Whom Gods Destroy.

Alfre Woodard has been cast in a major role on the upcoming Netflix series Luke Cage:

Woodard will play a lead character listed on the breakdown as Minetta, a powerful woman in local politics who will have an impact on Luke Cage’s life. No one is commenting, but I hear she may actually be playing a version of Marvel villain Black Mariah, a nemesis to Luke Cage as well as Iron Fist. In the comics, she is a professional criminal and a drug dealer.

The Manhattan season two trailer has been released by WGN. For those who have not seen the series, I recommend binging on the first season before the second starts in October, but do not watch the above trailer or continue reading here. For those who have watched the first season of this excellent series, the trailer does show a little of what becomes of Frank Winter after the season one finale. He is shown in prison, and this has me wondering if when he set himself up to be arrested he also left some contradictory evidence and had a plan to ultimately get out.

Molly’s carnival dream scenes in last week’s episode of Extant rank among the low points of the series. I’m really not sure why I continue to watch this show.

adrianne-palicki

Last year there were reports of an Agents of SHIELD spinoff staring Adrianne Palicki to be shown in the midst of the season like Agent Carter last year. Instead ABC renewed Agent Carter and this show was put on hold. Variety reports that it is back on:

Despite putting a halt on the “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” spinoff, which was proposed earlier this year, ABC is closing in on a deal to order a pilot for a project centered around MockingbirdVariety has learned exclusively.

Titled “Marvel’s Most Wanted,” the drama will focus on popular “SHIELD” characters Adrianne Palicki‘s Bobbi Morse (also known as Mockingbird) and Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter. The two actors will topline the pilot and prospective series.

“SHIELD” producers Jeffrey Bell and Paul Zbyszewski co-created the project for Marvel and ABC Studios, co-writing the pilot. They will serve as showrunners and exec producers together with Marvel’s head of television Jeph Loeb also exec producing.

Insiders say the series is not a spinoff, per se, but rather an entirely new project solely focused on the two characters to continue their story. Though plot details are scarce at this point, “Marvel’s Most Wanted” will follow the pair and their adventures together.

The 2015 Hugo Awards have been announced. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu won as best novel. Guardians of the Galaxy won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. An episode of Orphan Black, By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried, won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. The Orphan Black episode which won was the second season finale which I discussed here. This included the classic clone dance party scene (above).

There has been considerable controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards this year. Wired reports:

But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships.

Early this year, that shift sparked a backlash: a campaign, organized by three white, male authors, that resulted in a final Hugo ballot dominated by mostly white, mostly male nominees. While the leaders of this two-pronged movement—one faction calls itself the Sad Puppies and the other the Rabid Puppies—broke no rules, many sci-fi writers and fans felt they had played dirty, taking advantage of a loophole in an arcane voting process that enables a relatively few number of voters to dominate. Motivated by Puppygate, meanwhile, a record 11,300-plus people bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners were announced Saturday night.

Just before 8 PM, in a vast auditorium packed with “trufans” dressed in wizard garb, corsets, chain mail and the like, one question was on most everybody’s minds: Would the Puppies prevail?

Though voted upon by fans, this year’s Hugo Awards were no mere popularity contest. After the Puppies released their slates in February, recommending finalists in 15 of the Hugos’ 16 categories (plus the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer), the balloting had become a referendum on the future of the genre. Would sci-fi focus, as it has for much of its history, largely on brave white male engineers with ray guns fighting either a) hideous aliens or b) hideous governments who don’t want them to mine asteroids in space? Or would it continue its embrace of a broader sci-fi: stories about non-traditionally gendered explorers and post-singularity, post-ethnic characters who are sometimes not men and often even have feelings?

The Guardian also notes that this dispute led to a record five categories with no awards.

Quote of the Day: Jimmy Fallon on Tom Brady

Jimmy Fallon

“Starbucks announced that it’s now selling a mini version of its Frappuccino, which holds two ounces less than its small size. Tom Brady tried one and swears nothing is different. You can’t even notice it.”–Jimmy Fallon

Clinton Scandals vs Deflategate, And Other Thoughts Of The Day

If we as a country were as concerned with political leaders following the rules as much as football teams, Hillary Clinton would be suspended for one-fourth of the primaries and the Clinton Foundation would face a hefty fine. To complete the analogy I’d throw in Clinton losing two Supreme Court picks, but the Supreme Court is the main reason I’d hold my nose and vote for Clinton over a Republican in the general election and hope that she doesn’t choose someone as conservative on civil liberties and social issues as she is.

Jeb Bush has previously been known as George’s younger, smarter brother. In light of his defense of the Iraq War with all we’ve learned, from now on the two will be known as Dumb and Dumber.

Verizon is buying AOL, which will make them a major force in the internet in 1987.

Rand Paul is threatening to filibuster the Patriot Act. Why is this coming from a Republican (even if one the rest of his party disagrees with) as opposed from Democrats? Ron Wyden is also talking about filibustering. I wish he would also challenge Clinton for the nomination.

Saturday Night Live Spoof of CNN, And Hillary Clinton Deleting Her Email

Saturday Night Live had a good parody of CNN this weekend, starting with their coverage of airline disasters. Check out their simulations, along with their coverage of the Iran nuclear talks, using puppets as the actual meeting was behind closed doors. Also check out their simulation of Hillary Clinton deleting her email, using a cat for the simulation, about four minutes in.