SciFi Weekend: Emmy Awards; Mr Robot Season 2 Finale; The Flash; Legends Of Tomorrow; Peter Capaldi On Class; Karen Gillan

mr-robot-season-2-finale

The Emmy Awards last week had a couple of pleasant surprises with Tatiana Maslany winning for Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Orphan Black) and Rami Malek winning for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Mr. Robot). Malek accepted his award acting like his television character in saying, “Please tell me you’re seeing this too.” Other wins for genre shows include the expected wins for Game of Thrones, along with Sherlock: The Abominable Bride winning for best TV Movie.

Mr. Robot concluded its second season last week, but unfortunately the season was not up to the level of the first. Perhaps it has problems comparable to the second movie in a trilogy, leaving cliffhangers without the dramatic events which concluded the second season. Sam Esmail discussed the finale with The Hollywood Reporter:

The climax of the finale comes before the final scene: Tyrell shooting Elliot. It effectively ends the argument about whether Tyrell is still real or imagined by Elliot. How important was it to you to definitively answer that question by the end of season two?

That was, to me, the season’s arc. After Elliot’s head-trip, that he goes inside himself and inside this illusion that he uses to cope with the fact that he’s been in prison and inside all of this battle and all of the battles he’s had with Mr. Robot, it’s like the game is over. Elliot has to snap back to reality and literally, it happens with a gunshot, with a bang, by Tyrell.

It brings the season full circle, too, with Mr. Robot repeatedly shooting Elliot in the head in season one, and of course the gun in the popcorn at Coney Island. Chekov rules dictate that this gun had to go off at some point.

Exactly. And it was imperative that this was the defining real — and I kind of want to underline that (laughs) — moment for Elliot, because he’s actually been shot twice in the show now. He was shot in episode four of the first season in that fever dream hallucination, and was obviously continually shot in the beginning of this season. This one, we wanted to make it feel very different.

Mr. Robot tells Elliot that he’s willing to go “all the way.” Apparently, that means allowing himself to be shot. Throughout the series, Mr. Robot has always read as an entity very much interested in self-preservation. What does it say about Mr. Robot and his commitment to the cause that he’s willing to make a sacrifice play?

It redefines the stakes. Mr. Robot was all about self-preservation. Up until this point, that kind of included Elliot, because obviously self-preservation includes Elliot’s body, if you look at it that way. Now? All bets are off. In fact, everything to him is about the plan, and he’s willing to die for this cause. That’s how extreme his passion is for this whole project, for this whole revolution. It kind of realigns the stakes for us. Now Elliot cannot even trust his life with Mr. Robot, which happens to also be Mr. Robot’s life. It also raises the stakes in terms of the extremes Mr. Robot is willing to go through in order to pull off this plan. It’s two different levels that have been kick-started and raised a lot higher for next season…

Esmail discussed the structure of each season,the return of Tyrell, and the cliffhangers in Season 2 with Entertainment Weekly:

So let’s dive in, by the end of the episode, we’re seeing what Stage Two is — or at least what a part of Stage Two is. When was the concept of what Stage Two would be brought up in the writers room? Was that discussed hand-in-hand with how season 1 ended?
That was actually brought up in the writers room — if you can believe it or not — during the first season. That was something that was worked out in my head when I was just thinking about the feature. It was intentionally in that feature stage. We obviously talked about it in the writers room, but if the endgame of the first season was hacking Evil Corp, the endgame of the second season would be to take down their paper records. Once you take down their digital property, you would know that they would then try to rebuild the database and go to analog. That would be the executional plan for the season 2 arc. The way we kind of went about it in the second season was very, very roundabout. One thing that I knew heading into the second season — knowing that was our endgame — was that I did not want this to feel like this was the first season redux: Here’s the new plan, here’s the new arc of the season, here’s the new plot, so let’s watch our guy struggle and figure out how to bring down the building where they’re housing all of these paper records. Going through the conversations, we talked a lot about how to really keep it with Elliot’s storyline and his emotional journey, his struggles with Mr. Robot. We thought that was the most authentic and organic next step to Elliot’s journey anyway. After the big realization, he’s not just going to ignore that and continue on with the plot. That’s how it all folded up with the structure that we came up with for the second season…

Tyrell came back into the picture last week, long after we expected him. What was the conversation like when deciding at which point he reenters?
The decision to keep him out of the season had a lot to do with Elliot. Like I said, going into the second season, we wanted to have Elliot reconcile this relationship with Mr. Robot. He made this damning realization about himself at the end of the first season. Any notion of dismissing that in an episode or two — “Oh, I’m seeing this hallucination, and sometimes he takes over. Okay, now let’s move on and get to the plot” — felt completely disingenuous. It honestly always felt to us that the only way Elliot could proceed is to get into this battle with Mr. Robot, to reconcile how he’s going to live with this, how he’s going to negotiate with this, how he’s going to work through this. That all was predicated on Tyrell’s absence, because once he comes back in, it blows up the whole thing. Whether Mr. Robot lied to Elliot or what he withheld from him, all of the sudden, the show becomes about that and the plot machinations of that and not about what Elliot’s emotionally going through in terms of this serious disorder that he’s discovered about himself. Tyrell’s absence was a byproduct of what we felt Elliot’s journey needed to be for the entire season. Once we Tyrell came in, it went back to those plot machinations, folding Elliot back into the overarching journey of the revolution.

Season 2, arguably, has a bigger cliffhanger than season 1. What do you think are the big questions fans are going to be asking heading into season 3?
I think the one big one will be “What happened to Angela? Has she really been flipped? Or is she now playing some other motivation?” And I think that’s great. I know that people sometimes get frustrated that we leave Angela’s motivations in the dark, but I think that’s what adds to the intrigue of her. That’s why I’m so continually fascinated by her character: You can’t quite nail her down to which side she’s playing. It feels like she’s always playing both sides. I think that’s going to be a big question.

What else? Obviously, Leon and the coda and what will become of our affable heroes, Mobley and Trenton. Darlene and what will become of her relationship with Dom and how that will transpire, especially as that relates to Elliot. I think those will be the questions, but the fans and all of the viewers have always surprised me with the questions they ask. Sometimes they’re questions I didn’t even think we were asking.

mr-robot-season-2-finale-chart

Here are a couple of excerpts from an interview which Vulture held with Sam Esmail:

MZS: Why did you make the decision to delay the revelation of the real nature of Mr. Robot until late in the first season, and why did you wait to confirm that Elliot was in fact behind bars in the second season? Why didn’t you just let us in on that from the beginning?

SE: We talked about that. We said, okay, let’s just tell the audience, right? And then he’ll be in prison and then he’ll imagine it away and go into his reprogramming mind, similar to what we did in the pilot. And then someone was like — that someone was probably me [laughter] — what if we didn’t tell the audience? Okay, all right, what does that mean? What do we get out of that? Is there some added value to that, and if not, we shouldn’t do it.

I started looking at it as, well, if we start hinting something is going to be off here, we’re not going to hide it that well. It’s gotta be real. It’s gotta be like, no, there is something a little off, we’re hinting at it, we’re really in his coping mechanism, what Elliot would do, but the audience is going to sense it and is going to maybe predict it, maybe not. I mean, I didn’t really know, but I didn’t really care either way.

In our show, reality becomes our subtext. So if you have a scene with two characters, one of them loves the other, it’s more interesting for that person to hate that person on the surface but subtextually you feel, oh, well that person actually loves them. And you sense that maybe or maybe you don’t, and then you’re surprised when that comes out. Either way, there is another layer of engagement. It’s a lot more interesting. If everybody is saying on-the-nose dialogue to each other, if everything is on the surface, that becomes less intriguing, that doesn’t let me engage on it on a level that I think could be deeper and richer.

We have this opportunity with our character, who is obviously narrating to us and considers us a friend, felt betrayed by us the first season. What if he feels like, well, I’m gonna lie back, I’m gonna withhold from you and I’m not gonna tell you everything. I mean, I’ve not seen this done before, but now we’re developing this weird relationship with the audience. Whether you saw the prison coming or not, that’s not the point. The point is that now you’re having this subtextual relationship with him that you didn’t have in the first season. And then to add that now, under the unreliable narrator device, not only do we see it through his eyes, but he could also be lying to you. That’s another storytelling device that we could throw in…

GE: You’ve talked about how the Arab Spring has inspired the show a bit in terms of the theme of revolution. And, along those lines, this season we see the revolution not working out. But it’s also a very American story in how it focuses on what it feels like to be an outsider. Your star, Rami Malek, is Egyptian-American, as are you, and one of the members of fsociety, Trenton, is an Iranian-American. Are you partly trying to play on the feeling of being an immigrant in America, in terms of building the mood and tone of the show?

SE: Yeah. The thing about it is, when I made those choices, some of them in the screenplay, some of them in casting, which then inspired certain character choices, it was never to talk about it. Elliot is obviously of mixed race, his mother and father are different ethnicities, but we do not talk about it. Trenton, we dip our toe into it, but we do not talk about it, we let it just inform it.

And the reason why, and I did that very deliberately, because when I wrote Elliot I didn’t know, right? I didn’t know who it was gonna be and it didn’t really matter to me. And then when I cast Rami, who is obviously brilliant and perfect for the part, how do I reconcile his ethnicity — is he Egyptian, not Egyptian? I mean is there something here, should I be diving into that? And then I felt like there’s some reverse racism going on here. Wait a minute, I can’t cast Rami unless I address the fact that he is Egyptian in some way? I didn’t want that to now all of a sudden dictate anything about the character that would’ve happened had I cast someone white.  But I couldn’t just ignore it either, right? Because it needed to inform who he was.

And then that’s when it grew out, what you were saying, this outcast status or this outcast look about him, that then felt intrinsic to how Rami plays Elliot and how potentially I wrote Elliot. And it all becomes a more subconscious choice. Even when I wrote the Trenton character, and I wrote her in as Iranian-American, I didn’t do that because I wanted to explore Iranian-Americans, I did that because I was thinking about what kind of people would join this group from all walks of life. I’m also kind of reflecting on my own reality, my own circle of friends … that this type of person felt that way, that it felt right to be in this group.

And so it all came from this really genuine place of what organically makes sense, what informs this character that I’m trying to write, or trying to come across in the best way without it being about like, okay, here is this really diverse cast. And honestly, I think that’s really important because one of the things I get worried about with this diversity thing that’s going on right now, I don’t want people to look at it as homework. I don’t want people to write something and say, well, now we’ve gotta make them black and we gotta make them Native American.

Technology producer and writer Kor Adana has more at The Hollywood Reporter:

Another season of Mr. Robot is in the books. Now that it’s over, what, to you, were the ultimate goals and purpose of this season, as far as evolving the stories of Elliot, fsociety, E Corp, the Dark Army, and everyone else involved in this complicated web?

Ultimately, I believe we succeeded in creating a cohesive second chapter that organically fleshes out the world that fsociety essentially destroyed at the end of the first season. Elliot’s discovery of the Mr. Robot personality opened the door for us to experience his inner conflict and his longing to regain control of himself. Even though he enacted the 5/9 hack, him reconciling his relationship with Mr. Robot was at the top of his priority list. The quest for control and grip on reality is a large component of Elliot’s journey this season. The consequences and repercussions of the hack heavily influenced the other storylines. Price, Whiterose, Darlene, and Angela are all navigating this new world and are forced to confront questionable decisions they made previously.

In the finale, Stage Two is finally revealed, and it has fiery ramifications for Evil Corp. As best as you can, can you summarize what the plan involves, for those who haven’t yet wrapped their heads around it?

Rebuilding their records of loans and debt is the goal here. E Corp is transferring all of their paper financial records — titles, deeds, statements, transactions, credit records — to one of their processing facilities. Their plan is to digitize all of the paper content in an effort to recreate their databases. Knowing this, Elliot/Mr. Robot, Tyrell and the Dark Army have collaborated on a plan that would set off a large explosion in the datacenter of that processing facility. If they’re successful, anything stored in that building (paper documents included) would be destroyed. Stage Two is the logical next step of the original E Corp plan. Remember when Mr. Robot said that you have to take a conglomerate down limb by limb before they can unravel? The paper documents represent another one of E Corp’s limbs.

The Flash returns on October 4. The extended trailer above shows more about the Flash Point story.

Legends of Tomorrow will be much different next season–which is a good thing. Here is the synopsis of the first episode, which guest stars Stephen Amell and airs on October 13:

After the defeat of the immortal villain Vandal Savage and the exposure of the corrupt Time Masters, a new threat emerges. Dr. Nate Heywood (Nick Zano), an unconventional and charming historian, is thrust into the action. After making a shocking discovery, Nate seeks out Oliver Queen (guest star Stephen Amell) for help in finding the scattered Legends. Once reunited, the Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations – unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. Their first stop is 1942 to protect Albert Einstein from being kidnapped before the Nazis destroy New York City with a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, Ray (Brandon Routh) notices that Sara (Caity Lotz) has a mission of her own, which leads them both to face her nemesis, Damien Darhk (guest star Neal McDonough). Victor Garber, Arthur Darvill, Dominic Purcell and Franz Drameh also star. Dermot Downs directed the episode written by Marc Guggenheim & Phil Klemmer and Greg Berlanti & Chris Fedak.

One aspect of the upcoming season which is of interest, the Justice Society of America, is not seen in the trailer.

SciFi Now looks at ARQ, a time travel movie which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and is now available on Netflix.

The Rock Instagram EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: #JUMANJI Our dope 90's vintage costumes

The BBC is doing the obvious to get attention for the first episode of Class. Peter Capaldi will have a cameo. This will air on the BBC in October, and be paired with Doctor Who next spring in the United States.

In other Doctor Who related news, The Mary Sue looked at the controversy over what Karen Gillan’s Jumanji costume (picture above).

Maybe it is because I’m used to timey wimey plot lines, but I predicted the twist in This is Us well before it was revealed in the pilot. Now we will have to see where the show goes after this setup. I’m looking forward to checking out all the actual time travel shows premiering this season. There were three episodes of The Good Place, staring Kristen Bell and Ten Danson, last week. The comedy, which does have a genre aspect, was off to an entertaining start.

Quote Of The Day: Conan on Hillary’s Coughing Spell

Conan Photo

It’s come out that Hillary Clinton is having a hard time connecting with millennial voters. So now she’s saying that last week’s coughing spell was actually due to a massive bong hit.–Conan O’Brien

Related headline from McClatchy:

Young voters to Clinton: We can’t stand you

SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD; Star Trek Discovery Delayed; Luke Cage; Westworld; Syfy Pilots; Barrowman v. Moffat on Torchwood

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. "The Ghost" Season 4, Episode 1 Air Date: September 20, 2016 Pictured: CHLOE BENNET as Daisy EXCLUSIVE through 9/16

Chloe Bennet sets the stage for Daisy in the upcoming season of Agents of SHIELD, which returns this week:

In light of the Sokovia Accords, S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone legit.

When Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns, there’s a new director (Jason O’Mara), who tasks Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) & Co. with tracking down enhanced individuals — and that spells trouble for Daisy (Chloe Bennet), who has gone rogue after Lincoln’s death.

“Everyone she’s gotten close to has died,” Bennet tells EW. “Her way of protecting the people that she cares about — which is Coulson and the rest of the team — is to distance herself. She’s doing anything she can to help people and try to makeup for what she feels is her fault.”

But her self-imposed exile doesn’t necessarily make her a hero. “We know from the past that your power comes with a price,” EP Jed Whedon says. “It damaged her when she first used it and you have to learn to control it. Part of her nothing-to-lose attitude has allowed her to unleash her power on a level that’s much more aggressive, but also much more dangerous.”

“She’s in a place where she’s pushing herself beyond her limitations,” EP Maurissa Tancharoen adds. “Whether or not that’s being self-destructive or just trying to be her own version of her best self, we’ll explore that question.”

Spoiler TV also reports that season 4 will include a loose cross over with the upcoming Doctor Strange movie:

“Our ties are at times very direct and at times are more thematic,” EP Jed Whedon tells EW. “The tie this year will feel more of a reflection of the movie, less an interweaving plot. As that movie hits the world, it comes at the right time in our show, and you will see some of those same ideas being explored.”

“The same questions that our team is exploring leading up to the premiere of Doctor Strange, perhaps some of those concepts will be reflected in the movie and then carried through,” EP Maurissa Tancharoen says. Adds Whedon: “Hopefully some of the questions that we’re asking will be answered by it and then pose some new themes and ideas for us to explore.”

Star Trek Discovery

Originally January was going to be significant for both the inauguration of the next president and for the start of Star Trek: Discovery. CBS has delayed the premiere from January until May, 2017. StarTrek.com reports:

Star Trek: Discovery will now launch in May, 2017, it was announced this afternoon by CBS All Access. The new premiere date is driven by the creative team’s belief that this will give the show the appropriate time for delivery of the highest-quality, premium edition of the first new Star Trek television series in more than a decade.

“Bringing Star Trek back to television carries a responsibility and mission: to connect fans and newcomers alike to the series that has fed our imaginations since childhood,” executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller said in a joint statement. “We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality. Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of.”

Personally I’d prefer that we get Discovery in January, and postpone the inauguration of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (indefinitely).

Luke Cage is the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Netflix, teaser above. Showrunner showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker discussed the series in an interview with SciFiNow (via MCUExchange):

In an interview with science fiction website SciFiNow, Coker calls Luke Cage a show that is about “a man who moves to a new section of town, which has deteriorated over time.” He goes on to say, “Instead of a saloon, we have a club named Harlem’s Paradise. And inside this ‘saloon’ there is another strong man who is controlling vice and – to some extent – has an amount of control in law enforcement [this would be Mahershala Ali’s crime lord Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes], so he gets away with everything.”

When asked about how Luke Cage compares to the other MCU Netflix properties, Coker had this to say:

Luke Cage has a different feel to Jessica Jones and Daredevil,” explains the self-confessed comic-book fan. “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room right now; it’s a black show. However, at the same time, it’s a different genre to the other shows to some extent, because Daredevil is a crime drama with superhero elements, and Jessica Jones is a psychological thriller, even though it has some classic ‘Sam Spade’ noir moments.”

The promos for HBO’s adaptation of Westworld continue to make me far more interested in the series than I was when it was first announced. SciFi Now has a spoiler-free review of the first four episodes.

Sci-Fi Storm reports on three pilots at the Syfy channel. Here’s the one I find most interesting:

The Machine, based on the 2013 UK cult film, explores humanity through artificial intelligence when a sentient AI is created, but the military wants to use it for war. Caradog James, who directed the film, is an executive producer with Red & Black Films and John Giwa-Amu, the film’s producer.

It appears that John Barrowman has been claiming that Steven Moffat has been blocking the return of Torchwood–something which Barrowman has been tying hard to make happen. Doctor Who News reports that Moffat denies this:

You may be aware that John Barrowman has been saying, publicly, that I’ve been blocking a new series of Torchwood. To be very clear – I haven’t blocked it; I wouldn’t block it; I wouldn’t even be ABLE to block it. I didn’t even know a revival had been mooted till I read about it on the Internet. As John perfectly well knows, it’s not my show and I could no more prevent it happening that he could cancel Sherlock. I am bewildered, and a little cross, even to be included in this conversation. For the record, I really liked the show (especially the third series) and would be very happy to see more – monsters and mayhem, why not? But the fact is, it has nothing to do with me. Please pass this on to the anxious and the angry – I’ve had enough hate mail now.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek; The Growing Berlantiverse; SHIELD; Doctor Who; Catwoman; Genre Shows Win Creative Arts Emmys; The Nix

George Takei discussed Star Trek with Stephen Colbert. Video above. Nerdist reports:

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the debut of the original Star Trek (well, in America at least: sorry to Canada that we didn’t do this two days earlier), so fittingly the tributes and odes were pouring in from fans around the globe. However, it was George Takei who best summed up what the franchise is really all about, and in doing so explained why it is so beloved and has endured for so long.

The O.G. Sulu was a guest of super nerd and Trekkie Stephen Colbert on The Late Show last night, and Takei shared his memories of the “very special” first time he went to work on the series, where franchise creator Gene Roddenberry described to him and the rest of the cast at their first table read what story the space adventure show was really telling.

“Gene explained to us what Star Trek was all about,” said Takei, “He said that the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth, and the strength of this starship lay in its diversity coming together.” Roddenbery then explained that the possibilities of “infinity diversity in infinite combinations” (IDIC) would force the crew, representing the many people of the planet, to combine their abilities to solve problems as one.

More detail on the interview at The Mary Sue.

enterprise-computer

Majel Barrett has had both on-screen roles and has been on multiple versions of Star Trek as the voice of the ship’s computer. Her voice was recorded phonetically before she died and there is talk of using her voice on Star Trek: Discovery, along with using it Siri-like virtual assistants. I want my Amazon Echo to use her voice!

Bryan Fuller continues to slowly provide hints about other aspects of Star Trek: Discovery. He tweeted than an episode from The Original Series, Balance of Terror, is a “touchstone” for Discovery’s story arc. The episode introduced the Romulans, and TrekMovie.com speculates on what this might mean.

USA Today has an article on Rod Roddenberry.

flash-supergirl-arrow

Greg Berlanti is working on yet another superhero show, now Black Lightning for Fox.

IndieWire has interviewed Gregg Berlanti about his multiple superhero shows. He has news on several of them, including the cross-over episodes:

As “Supergirl” leaps to The CW, how has the network move – and the relocation to Vancouver – been going?

I just saw the director’s cut of the first episode, and I’m in as much love with the show as ever. It’s been challenging to figure out all the moving parts, moving the show across cities and across networks. But the reality is, I think the show is as strong as ever and it feels really seamless. People will not be able to tell that it’s not L.A. It feels like National City still. There are some new enhancements to the set that we were going to do anyway. Obviously some new characters are coming to the show that we would have brought in anyway to the second season. And so I’m really pleased. CBS in their own wisdom recognized it, there’s no part of the show that’s fighting itself anymore. It has a youthfulness and appeal because of the age of the leading lady, and it gets to embrace that a touch more.

What more can you tell us how often we’ll see Calista Flockhart’s character, Cat Grant?

She’s recurring. We’re trying to get her for at least six episodes this year, and she’s in the first two episodes. We’re just trying to see when she can come back now.

And will we see her interact with Superman?

I don’t want to give it away, but she has a special kind of dynamic with Clark Kent.

How far along is the “Supergirl”/”The Flash” musical crossover?

We just finished writing the fall crossovers. And now we’re trying to figure out how to produce them. That’s probably the most challenging thing we do all year. And now we’re doing it across three shows! But next week we’ll have to start talking about clearing music. I have a few ideas for tone and style in my head but we’re just starting to talk about what that can be. I do want to try and get an original piece of music written. As we make a deal on that we’ll probably make some announcements on the original songs.

Perhaps written by, I don’t know, Lin-Manuel Miranda?

[laughs] I would say, pretty close. I can’t say yet because we don’t have a deal yet, but I did speak to someone we’re really excited about. There are some writers I’m incredibly excited to work with.

Back to the big CW series crossover, how difficult is that to pull off across so many series?

You really are trying to run a single production across three different productions. But they’re run as three separate entities. We have to figure out when we’re borrowing one actor from where. We’re telling one cohesive story; “Supergirl” will participate, but the storyline doesn’t actively begin there. There are some characters who show up in her episode, but the story begins with “The Flash” episode and goes to “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” We’re just getting into designing the bad guy for it, and we start now but it doesn’t air until the end of November. We will put a lot of time between now and then figuring out visual effects sequences. Just today I was holding the three scripts back-to-back – that’s 180 pages of material. It’s a three-hour story, almost a miniseries.

And when you place all three scripts together, it unlocks some sort of fortune.

[laughs] It’s very daunting when you hold them all together like that. Each one of these pages is 10 hours of shooting and a visual effects extravaganza. But hopefully it feels like a great kind of crossover comic book sell.

The Spoiler Room at Entertainment Weekly has news on several genre shows, including this about Felicity on Arrow:

Emily Bett Rickards has been training a lot lately. Does it mean Felicity will be involved in more action scenes in Arrow season 5? — Itakha
At first, Felicity will be dealing with the fallout of Havenrock’s destruction. “In the first five episodes, we face head-on the decision that Felicity made,” EP Marc Guggenheim says. “We are most definitely not ignoring it.” Following that, though, Guggenheim cryptically teases what could be Felicity jumping in on the action. “We’re positioning her to do something in the second half of the year that is really, really key, and that isn’t about her relationship with Oliver or even necessarily her father or her mother. It’s really new territory for her, and we’ve very excited about it. Some big things are going to happen with Felicity.”

I was pleasantly surprised to see Emily Bett Richards while watching Brooklyn last weekend. (Sorry, it was not a major role, and the movie, while excellent, is totally non-genre).

Agents of SHIELD has a promo for Ghost Rider. More at Screen Rant.

Hulu has picked up a sci-fi comedy entitled Future Man from Seth Rogen.

Vince Gilligan is producing a limited series for HBO on Jim Jones for HBO entitled Raven. My bet is that he will do a good job of showing Jones’ life, but after Breaking Bad I would prefer to see him invent more flawed characters of his own.

Netflix has renewed Narcos for season 3 and 4.

power-of-the-daleks-animated-570x321

It appears that the next season of Doctor Who will start in April based upon reports in Radio Times and a comment from Peter Capaldi. Before that, there will also be the Christmas episode. Plus in November there will be an animated version of a lost story:

It’s one of the Doctor’s most celebrated adventures and yet no complete film recordings of The Power of the Daleks are known to have survived. The master negatives were destroyed in an archive purge in 1974.

BBC Worldwide has announced that a brand new black and white animation based on audio recordings of the programme using the original cast, surviving photographs and film clips will be released 50 years to the minute after its only UK broadcast on BBC One.

The six half hour episodes feature the regeneration, or as it was then called ‘renewal’, of First Doctor William Hartnell into Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, as the Time Lord and his companions Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze) do battle with the Daleks on the planet Vulcan.

Anne Hathaway told Variety she would live to play Catwoman again. That might be difficult as the Christopher Nolan Batman stories, where she appeared, have concluded, but that doesn’t entirely rule out her reprising the role in a future movie.

A few genre shows have already won awards last night at the Creative Arts Emmys. Winners included Jessica Jones (Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music), Mr. Robot (Outstanding Music Composition For A Series), and Man In The High Castle (Outstanding Main Title Design and Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series). Hopefully some of these series will  also win some of the more major Emmy awards.

J.J. Abrams is working on a television adaptation of The Nix, staring Meryl Streep.

Headline of the day coming over my news aggregators which sounds more like cheap fiction than news: Sick African dictator ‘eats his enemies’ testicles and brains to boost his sexual prowess’

Late Night Comics On Commander In Chief Forum

Yesterday I wrote about the Commander In Chief Forum. Above is Stephen Colbert’s take on the event, and below are some comments from the late night comics:

Last night they held, like, an appetizer debate — an “amuse douche,” if you will. It was called the Commander-in-Chief Forum. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump answered questions about national security. It was the first time the two of them were in the same room since Trump’s wedding. It took place right here in New York on the aircraft carrier Intrepid. Once the two of them were on board, a lot of people were tempted to cut it loose and let it drift out to sea. –Stephen Colbert

Jimmy Kimmel

The one guy Donald Trump has nothing bad to say about is Vladimir Putin. Maybe he is afraid Putin will cut off his supply of wives.–Jimmy Kimmel

Last night was NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gave live back-to-back interviews about national security, and the candidates decided who would go first with a coin toss. But there was an awkward moment when Trump saw the coin, grabbed it, and put it in his pocket. “So what? I didn’t see a coin, what coin, what are you talking about?” In all seriousness Donald Trump called heads, but just in case he lost he also called the whole thing rigged. –James Corden

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; Westworld; Aftermath; Stranger Things; Supergirl; Agents of SHIELD; Doctor Who News

Star Trek Discovery

Bryan Fuller has explained the name Discovery was chosen for the upcoming Star Trek series:

“This ship is called the Discovery for a few reasons,” Fuller explained. “Not the least of which is Stanley Kubrick’s contribution to the Discovery on 2001: A Space Odyssey, NASA’s vessel the Discovery, and also the sense of discovery.” He added that the title of Star Trek: Discovery was also about “what the word ‘discovery’ means to Star Trek audiences who have been promised a future by Gene Roddenberry where we come together as a planet and seek new worlds and new alien races to explore and understand and collaborate with.” Fuller went on to say that sense of discovering would manifest as the show reintroduces new and familiar aliens, ships, and technology to the Star Trek universe.

 TV Guide reports that there will be more than just a television series:

Star Trek: Discovery is going really, really big when it debuts on CBS — before moving to CBS’ All Access portal in January of 2017: not just with a new ship, new aliens and new planets; but a novel and comic book series, too.

Kristen Beyer, who’s overseeing a line of Star Trek novels, announced the big plans for the series at the Star Trek: Mission New York convention this weekend, where she and Nicholas Meyer, writer and director of the acclaimed movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, celebrated the franchise’s 50-year milestone.

At the gathering, Beyer said that longtime Star Trek author David Mack will write the Discovery tie-in novel, while writer Mike Johnson will have a hand in developing the comic series. “We’re creating these in real time [with the show],” Beyer said, according to a report from Yahoo. “They’re going to support the story in a way we don’t normally have the chance to do.”

HBO has a new trailer for Westworld.

Westworld looks quite promising but looking at the trailer, I have my doubts about Aftermath. It looks like they tried to throw in far too much, but we won’t know until actual episodes are on, and perhaps others will find this above trailer more compelling  than I did.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alex Glen/REX/Shutterstock (5585090cg) Alison Brie 'How To Be Single' film premiere, London, Britain - 09 Feb 2016 WEARING DAVID KOMA

Netflix has picked up season two of Stranger Things. The second season will contain nine episodes and take place in 1984. That is not the only Netflix series to take place in the 1980’s. Netflix has also picked up G.L.O.W., a ten-episode comedy by Jenji Kohan of Orange Is The New Black. The series about a 1980s female wrestling league is primarily of interest as it will star Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow fortunately is being largely redone for the second season. Trailer above. The addition of the Justice Society of America gives another reason to give the series a second chance.

Superman Supergirl

Supergirl will finally show Superman on screen second season. The first set pictures of Superman (played by Tyler Hoechlin ) with Supergirl have been posted this week.

Among the changes on Agents of SHIELD include the addition of Ghost Rider. More at The Hollywood Reporter.

Grimm has been renewed for a thirteen episode final season.

Karen-Gillan-karen-gillan-13197795-450-650

Radio Times reports that Doctor Who has had a huge influence on names in England and Wales:

Amelia – the dearly departed Amelia Pond of course – is the most popular girls’ name in England and Wales for 2015. Even more significantly, Clara entered the top 100 for the very first time in 2015 – the same year as Clara Oswald’s final moments in the Tardis.

Rose (Tyler), Martha (Jones), Sarah (Jane), Victoria (Waterfield – an assistant to the second Doctor) and Grace (Holloway – pal to the eighth Doctor) all feature in the top 100 names for girls.

In fact, according to our calculations, 3 per cent of all girls born in 2015 were named after Doctor Who companions.

And the boys? Well, Rory (Williams) and Michael (‘Mickey’ Smith) both have a place in the top 100. Jack (Captain Harkness) meanwhile, is the second most popular name for boys in 2015.

I’m not so sure that we can attribute the Michaels and Jacks to Doctor Who, but is is far more likely that others such as Clara, Amelia, and Rory were influenced by the show.

Amelia Pond is also quite busy in new roles. Karen Gillan has been cast in the remake of Jumanji. This is among other upcoming roles including returning as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and a role in the movie version of The Circle.

In other Doctor Who related news, the spin-off Class has completed filming.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; Digital Erections; Supergirl; The Flash; What Thor Was Doing During Captain America: Civil War; Outlander; Doctor Who; You’re The Worst

Star Trek The Cage

When word came out that Star Trek Discovery (officially abbreviated DSC, not STD) would take place about ten years before the original show, and it would feature a female lead who is not the Captain, many fans realized that this would put it around the era of The Cage (the original pilot which was re-cut into flashbacks on The Menagerie). Some also speculated that the female lead could be Number One from that episode if she transferred to a new ship. Bryan Fuller has told Ain’t It Cool News that the female lead will be know as Number One. It was not stated whether this will be the same character, or perhaps another character is being referred to in this manner (as Riker was on The Next Generation).

As for the other project upcoming from Bryan Fuller, I09 discussed plans for digital erections in American Gods.

Supergirl Martian Manhunter

Collider interviewed producer Andrew Kreisberg regarding plans for Supergirl’s second season:

With all of the great things that come with getting to continue the show on The CW, one of the things you lost was the ability to have Calista Flockhart on as a regular cast member. How often can we expect to see her?

KREISBERG: Well, she’s in the first two episodes and we’re talking to her about doing more. It’s funny because, from our perspective, we thought she wouldn’t do any. And it’s not because she doesn’t love the show. She’s such a huge fan of the show, but moving to Vancouver, we assumed that we would part as friends. But she’s so into the show and feels such an allegiance and a responsibility to it that she’s agreed to come back, so we’re very happy. We’re not focusing on what we don’t have. We’re focusing on what we do have, and it’s allowed us to have Ian Gomez, who’s playing Snapper Carr, come in, in a more supervisory capacity, which is fun. Kara has spent two years of her life learning to deal with Cat Grant’s idiosyncracies, foibles, short temper and mixed signals, and just when she finally got that down, she’s now introduced to a new boss who’s very different, has his own thing, and isn’t quite as impressed by her spunk as Cat always was, even if Cat wouldn’t admit it. It’s a journey, like any of us go on. We’ve all had different bosses, over the course of our careers. Just when you finally feel like you’ve nailed your job, you get promoted and you’re suddenly like, “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore!” That’s what’s going to happen to Kara this season…

What can you say about the addition of Christopher Wood and how his character will fit in with things?

KREISBERG: We don’t want to say too much because we’re doing our own version of Mon-El. Obviously, he’s a character from the comic books and he’s much beloved, and we’re putting our own spin on it. What’s interesting about Mon-El joining the show, from Kara’s perspective, is that Kara has spent her whole life as someone who’s been mentored, first by her mother, and then by the Danvers and Superman and Cat. She’s always been somebody who’s been taken care of, in a way. Now, with Mon-El, he’s fresh off the boat. As far as he’s concerned, living on another planet happened yesterday, and suddenly, he’s on Earth and everything he knew was lost, just the way it was for Kara, but she’s had 12 years to process it and he’s struggling with it. So, Kara is now the one in the mentor position. Ironically, she even says in an episode, “I was sent to Earth not to be a hero. I wasn’t sent here to be Supergirl. I was sent here to protect Clark and take care of Clark. Now, in an odd way, with Mon-El here, I’m getting to fulfill that original mission that I had.” So, it’s a big change and a big growing experience for Kara, this season.

How daunting was it to figure out how you wanted to portray Superman, what you wanted the dynamic between Clark and Kara to be, and finding the right actor to take all of that on?

KREISBERG: I think our take on him is probably something a little bit more traditional. There’s certainly a little bit of the “Aw shucks” about him, but he’s been Superman for awhile, so there’s a savviness about him as Superman and as Clark. If he’s been Superman for 12 years, that also means that he’s been Clark Kent for 12 years. He knows how to interview somebody. He knows how to get a story out of someone. As always, with any of these things, we’re never doing a direct adaptation of a specific comic book. We cherry pick the best parts and things that we love. So, there’s a little bit of the Christopher Reeve Superman in there, a healthy dose of the Superman animated series, which we’re huge fans of, a little bit of Lois & Clark, a little George Reeves, and a little Super Friends. And as far as finding the right guy, as soon as we said we were going to do Superman, Greg [Berlanti] mentioned Tyler [Hoechlin]. We’ve been fans of his for years, and when we sat down with him, he is Superman. Not just with the looks, but he’s such a good guy, such a nice guy, and he’s so open and forthright and brimming with life. You just feel better when you’re around him, which I think is part of the secret of Superman. He is that ideal, but not in an unattainable way. Superman should make you feel like you can do anything, even though he’s the one that can do anything. And Tyler just had all that in spades. So, it was less a question of us reaching out. It was more a question of hoping he would say yes. After Tyler, I’m not sure what we would have done…

What’s in store for J’onn J’onzz?

KREISBERG: Part of the reason we’re bringing on Miss Martian is to give J’onn his own story this year and his own emotional ride, meeting her and having this tie to his home world that he thought he would never have again. As he has to keep reminding people, he’s been here for 300 years and isolated for most of it. Last year, with his relationship with Alex and his relationship with Kara, he started to come out of his shell a little bit and wasn’t quite so afraid to show who he really was. So, in getting to interact with M’gann, he’s going to have a whole new person with which to share his martian experience. We think it’s going to be a great story.

The Flash will be lighter in tone next season, despite dealing with two villains along with Flashpoint.

avengers-suit-secret-identity

On the weekends I often wear somewhat subtle genre t-shirts such as Stark Expo, Wayne Enterprises, or Nelson and Murdock, Avocados At Law. I have a lot of ties with hidden, and in some cases not so hidden Mickeys (and one with both Mickey and Goofy). Now it is possible to go all out with superhero themed suits. Fun Suits has put out a line of discrete Marvel and DC based suits. The Mary Sue provides a description. The downsides are that they are polyester, and won’t be available until November.

In other Marvel news, Marvel has revealed what Thor was busy doing during the events of Captain America: Civil War in the above video, which was shown at San Diego Comic Con.

Outlander

Variety  reports on Ron Moore’s comments about season 3 of Outlander:

“Outlander” showrunner Ronald D. Moore told an audience at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival on Thursday that in Season 3 the show would start in Scotland but would then be making a sea voyage in the 18th century.

“There’s an extended journey across the Atlantic and then the story eventually goes to Jamaica, the Caribbean and ending up in the New World,” he said. “Season 3 will be as different to Season 2 as Season 2 was to Season 1.”

These dramatic shifts threw up challenges for Moore, who said: “It’s exciting creatively; it’s very hard in terms of the production… You are doing a whole new series with every season. So that’s very difficult. Scouting new locations, building new sets, bringing in new cast members, new costumes, different eras. It increases the expense, it increases the time necessary to prep everything, to shoot everything… So it makes it more difficult and it also takes more mental energy having to crack new problems.”

…Moore underscored the differences between the novel and the show. “You are not capturing Diana’s voice in the show, so much as you are capturing her world and her story. Diana’s voice is there for you on the page. When you read the book, or any book, the author is speaking to you directly,” he said. “The TV show has a vision, feeling and vibe that is an entity unto itself. All these component pieces then combine into our voice.”

Osgoods

Ingrid Oliver says she knows the difference between the human and Zygon version of Osgood:

Discussing last year’s last year’s ‘The Zygon Invasion’ and ‘The Zygon Inversion’ episodes, Oliver told Doctor Who: The Fan Show: “In the script it simply said Osgood 1 and Osgood 2. Steven [Moffat] never said explicitly ‘This is Zygon Osgood and this is not Zygon Osgood – or Hybrid Osgood’, so I sort of made a choice, but I don’t know if it’s right!”

Asked if there were any tells to signify which Osgood is which, she revealed: “Yes, in my head there are some very small tells. But, having said that, it’s sort of open to interpretation – because I guess that’s the point of the episode. In my head, inevitably there are a couple of little things that I did.”

Oliver joked: “I don’t know if people have noticed it – probably not… the Zygon one strokes her chin a lot!”

You’re the Worst returns on Wednesday. Season three trailer above. I hear the first episode is rather Not Safe For Work, and the season also includes an episode entitled The Last Sunday Funday. TV Line has more on the season.

I am waiting to see what happens next on tonight’s episode of The Last Ship. Last week’s episode felt like a look at Donald Trump’s America with that wall going up.

Conan O’Brien on Hillary Clinton

Conan Photo

Hillary Clinton received her first classified briefing as the Democratic nominee. Conan O’Brien had this to say: “On Saturday, Hillary Clinton will receive her first official intelligence briefing as a candidate. Officials plan to tell Hillary about threats to U.S. cybersecurity such as Russia, China, and her.”

Related jokes from Conan:

“According to Hillary Clinton’s newly-released medical records, she suffers from seasonal allergies. But she just takes some Benadryl and they’re all deleted.”

“Experts say Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy is to ignore the controversies, and just run out the clock. By the way, that also happens to be Hillary Clinton’s marital strategy.”

SciFi Weekend: Mr Robot’s Big Reveal; Superman; Agents of SHIELD; Hugo Awards; Doctor Who

mr-robot-elliott_ef1cfm

Unlike the first season, we didn’t have to wait until the end of the season for the big reveal. (That should be a clue that a major spoiler is coming for those behind). Fans have speculated since the first episode that Eliot was really in prison or a psychiatric institution rather than living with his mother to provide more structure. This week, his psychiatrist asked Eliot where he believed he was. His mother’s townhouse faded away and he admitted to us that he had been suppressing the fact that he was in prison.

Alan Sepinwall interviewed Sam Esmail about this development:

Where did the idea come from that you were going to disguise Elliot’s surroundings in this way?

Sam Esmail: It came from a two-prong approach. We knew exactly what the fate of Elliot was at the end of the last season, and we started breaking this season’s storyline. We’re always trying to stay as authentic to Elliot as possible, what he’s going through. Knowing Elliot, from the very first episode, he definitely has interesting coping mechanisms. Even from the pilot, he has this ability to reprogram his life: E Corp was turned into Evil Corp. When we thought about him being in prison, what would be that coping mechanism, this came to mind. The other approach was his relationship to us — to his “friend” — and how we left him at the end of the first season. He basically didn’t trust us anymore, he felt we were keeping things from him. So we wanted to develop that relationship as well. That was the one approach of, “This is what Elliot would do in this situation, to cope with being in prison,” and then the other of keeping it from us because he felt betrayed by us from the first season.

When we spoke at the end of season 1 about the Mr. Robot revelation, you said you would be hesitant in the future to do things that would leave people questioning the reality of the show. Did you have any concerns about doing another big, “This is what it really is!” reveal in that way?

Sam Esmail: I did. I remember bringing it up to the room. The one thing I also told you is I wanted to stay as authentic to Elliot as possible. And the truth of the matter is, the show is about mystery, and there will always be questions and we won’t actually see the full picture all of the time. Having said that, if we can’t invest in what is happening and what is going on, that would become very frustrating, to the point where you wouldn’t feel any stakes. That was the test we ran through with this idea: is this actually happening to him? Is what he’s experiencing still real? And can the audience still buy into this after the reveal? Those answers were obviously yes: the events that we saw were still very much real, and the consequences of them are real, and what Elliot went through is real. It’s just the coping mechanism he used was not exactly what he saw. To me, it was definitely one of those things that prompted a real conversation. Like I think I told you last year, we’re not in it for gotcha moments or shocking the audience, but we’re in it for interesting reveals and deepening and enriching Elliot’s experience. We felt that him going through his prison sentence in this way was more true to life to Elliot than actually having seen it as a prison.

But you understand how fandom works. Having done this two years in a row, you’ve now conditioned them to, whatever you do next, the fans will pick it apart frame-by-frame to explain what’s actually happening.

Sam Esmail: Yeah, well, truth be told, don’t you feel like it’s already happening this season?

True. How did you feel about people having this exact theory of prison after only the season premiere had aired?

Sam Esmail: It was weird. One thing that we always do is we never want to cheat the audience. We never want it to be some extraordinarily contrived thing where we’re basically lying to the audience and what they’re seeing isn’t actually happening, and we’re fooling them. In doing that, and being honest with what is going on, even though the surroundings aren’t actually what they are, we didn’t really hide it that well, right? I didn’t expect people to catch on from the very first episode, but I thought people would start to theorize and catch on. Look, a reveal is great when it’s surprising, but it’s terrible when it feels like a cheat. To me, the fact that some people who guessed it may not be surprised, it verifies that we didn’t cheat anybody, because it adds up and makes sense to them still.

I’m sure much of this will be explained in future episodes, in terms of why Elliot was in prison to begin with, but was Ray a guard in the prison? How much of Ray’s business involved prisoners versus the outside world?

Sam Esmail: That’s going to get revealed in a couple of episodes.

By sending Elliot to prison, you also spend the first half of the season with him physically separate from the other characters, give or take a brief visit by Gideon or Darlene. What did you see as the advantages and disadvantages of having him apart from the rest of the ensemble, other than Mr. Robot?

Sam Esmail: I’m glad you asked that question. Obviously, knowing we were doing this, it was very important for Elliot to address this incredibly internal conflict that sprung on him at the end of the first season: that he has an alter ego that he can’t control. That was the first and foremost issue that I wanted to tackle with Elliot. So of course the isolation of him being in prison really helped that. It meant that we get to basically do this deep dive into his internal battle with his demons. There is not much else for him to do. He couldn’t escape it. So it was great on that level. I knew it was going to be a polarizing choice to go in this direction with Elliot, but for whatever reason, it felt organic and natural. But when I took a step back and looked at the whole season, I realized that, when I think about the sequels that I really love, or second acts of movies or larger stories, they tend to do this: to go into this inward battle after accomplishing this big Herculean hero’s journey. The one uncanny similarity — which I only realized in hindsight — is Empire Strikes Back. At the end of the first movie, you take down the big band, the revolutionaries kind of win, but the second movie opens, they’re still battling, they’re still struggling, the Empire is rebuilding, and literally Luke goes off to another planet for most of that movie to learn to become a Jedi, while his sister is still out there fighting the good fight. This wasn’t something planned, but I looked at it and realized we were literally following that same pattern. And it’s not just with Empire Strikes Back. It’s Godfather Part II. There’s a lot of introspection that happens. That’s often the next stage after this huge external conflict comes to an end. Then it’s, “Well, then what?” It’s a hangover moment, of reflection and going inward. So that direction made sense for our story.

Esmail was also interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter.

News also came out during the past week that Mr. Robot has been renewed for a third season.

Superman Black

In other genre news, Henry Cavill has teased what will happen to Superman when he returns for the Justice League movie, in light of what happened at the end of Batman v. Superman.

Agents of SHIELD will be edgier with its move to 10 pm. It is a safe bet it will still be much tamer than the far better Marvel television adaptations on Netflix (one of which won a Hugo Award).

The 2016 Hugo Awards winners have been announced. The award for Best Novel went to The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. The Martian won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Jessica Jones: A.K.A. Smile won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Unfortunately the awards continued to be tainted by conservative politics.

Doctor Who Capaldi and Pearl Mackie

BBC America has announced that Doctor Who and other genre shows will be represented at New York Comic Con:

Mark your calendars: BBC AMERICA is coming to New York Comic Con in a big way this year. On Friday, October 7, the network will present a block of star-studded panels at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, featuring Doctor Who, with Peter Capaldi making his NYCC debut alongside new companion Pearl Mackie at her first-ever fan appearance. Ahead of its October 22, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency will launch a world premiere screening followed by a panel with cast, showrunner, writer and executive producer. And the Doctor Who spinoff Class will have its first-ever U.S. panel with cast, executive producer, and creator of the series.

They included more on the panels including Doctor Who:

BBC AMERICA’s Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi will make his New York Comic Con debut along with the first ever fan appearance by new co-star Pearl Mackie, who joins the series as Bill, the Doctor’s new companion. When Pearl joined the cast, Emmy-winning lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat teased “a new voyage is about to begin” and “this is where the story really starts.” Fans will get a sneak peek of what’s ahead including the upcoming Christmas Special this December on BBC AMERICA and hints on what’s in store for Steven Moffat’s final season as showrunner. The panel includes stars Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) and Pearl Mackie (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time), as well as Steven Moffat (Sherlock) and executive producer Brian Minchin (ClassTorchwood). Doctor Who is a BBC Cymru Wales production for BBC One and a BBC AMERICA co-production.

The Time Travel Question of the Week:

Hitler Time Travelers

SciFi Weekend: Stranger Things–Explanation of Finale And A Look Ahead; Mr Robot; Star Trek Discovery; Doctor Who

Stranger Things D&D

Stranger Things was the surprise hit of the summer. It was as close to a perfectly structured television show as I’ve ever seen, both telling a complete story in eight episodes and leaving some things open for future seasons. It has an excellent cast, a story which was compelling from the start, and a lot to bring back fond memories of both the 1980’s and previous stories in the genre. The early 1980’s was a perfect period for this story, when kids could roam freely without being immediately available by cell phone, kids would have to ask their science teacher for information rather than looking it up on line, and Cold War paranoia made the background of the story seem a bit more plausible. I briefly discussed the show last week without spoilers. In order to discuss the finale and where the second season might go, major spoilers are unavoidable.

If I had any complaints after the conclusion, it might be that questions which we might not have had time to wonder about while binging were left unanswered. I’m thinking of where the story was at even before the final few minutes when additional teasers for the future were inserted. Fortunately the producers do have an outline which presumably contains information which might answer some of my questions in future seasons.

We know something about the research being done at Hawkins Lab, and how Eleven presumably opened a portal to another dimension. There could be far more going on at the lab, and was there a one through ten?

What happened in the other dimension, which appears to be like ours with the atmosphere destroyed and people no longer alive? Some scenes which looked up to the stars led me to believe it was due to aliens, while the 1980’s time frame also makes me suspect it was the consequence of a nuclear winter. Why did we see only one Demogorgon? Perhaps such monsters, and perhaps other types, are roaming the other dimension, and only this one made it to their version of Indiana. Did such monsters destroy Earth, or were they created by radiation from a nuclear war? The kids faced a Thessalhydra while playing D&D at the end of the episode. Is this what they will encounter next? Is there a connection between their games and what is found in the Down Under? What was the egg which Hopper discovered?

What happened to Eleven and the monster? If this was a completed story we might assume she died after saying goodby to Mike.  However, as we are dealing with parallel universes and the ability to travel between them, it wouldn’t be surprising if a sequel shows that they did go to another dimension. Deaths always must be questioned if there is no body–and in this show even a body did not prove death. If two dimensions were shown this season, are there other dimensions which might come into play in future seasons?

It is plausible that Will remained alive as long as he did by hiding out in alternate versions of places he knows in his universe, but how did he communicate with the lights? Even if messing with the wires in one dimension affected them in the other dimension, he showed remarkable accuracy in turning flashing specific lights by specific letters. Barb was not so fortunate, but to maintain some degree of horror I think it was necessary for her to have been killed. Most of the characters who were put in danger did survive. Will was alive in the end. His mother and Hopper were both captured but managed to be released. The kids survived the final attack of the monster in their school Someone had to actually die for the monster to be menacing in the end, and a character such as Barb who was only in a handful of scenes was the obvious “red shirt.”

The final few minutes of the series went further in providing loose ends to tie up in the future. What happened when Hopper went in that car. Why was he leaving Eggos Waffles in the box in the woods? Either he knew that Eleven was out there and was leaving her favorite food for her, or he perhaps he was leaving them to see if she returned to take them. I think the later is more plausible as if he was actually feeding her he would have presumably left more.

The biggest sign that we have not seen the last of the Upside Down was when Will coughed up the slug and briefly saw the other dimension. Was that just a mental flash back, or was there a breakdown between the dimensions in the bathroom? Is this the original Will, or yet another type of fake, this time created in the Upside Down? What about Will’s mother and Hopper? Both were in the Upside Down and had breathed in the air.

The Duffer brothers have verified in various interviews that they are hoping to produce a second season involving the same characters, with additional ones added. There will be a time jump of one year which makes matters much simpler when dealing with children actors, and allows for the story to have advanced.

Here are some excerpts of interviews with Matt and Ross Duffer:

Stranger Things

From Variety:

How much do we know about Eleven’s true origins at this point, and how much did you want to keep a mystery?

Ross: We get the hint that her mom was involved in the experimentations back in the day resulting in her being born with these powers, but what we wanted to do with the show — and this season specifically — was mostly seeing the mystery and these extraordinary things through the eyes of these ordinary characters. By the end of the show they don’t know or understand everything. That is purposeful.

We do cut away to the government occasionally for these pops of mystery or horror, but what we didn’t want was to have a scene of the scientist just sitting down to explain everything. We wanted to slowly peel back layers of this mystery for audiences through the eyes of these very ordinary people. It’s not all solved by the end of the season. We wanted to resolve the main mystery of Will being gone, that was the story of this season.

Do you see the government or science conspiracy angle as a long-term mystery for the show?

Ross: There’s a lot there we don’t know or understand. Even with the Upside Down, we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why aren’t there more monsters — we have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one, because of the main tension of Will. We have that whole other world that we haven’t fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful.

Matt: We wanted a simple drive and a somewhat simple mystery with bizarre pops of supernatural horror and then add a larger mythology behind this rift that we only know and refer to as the Upside Down because that’s what the boys decide to call it. Everything they’ve learned about it is kind of hypothetical. They’re theorizing based on their knowledge from fantasy gaming and their science teacher, Mr. Clarke. That’s as much as we get to understand it. I think part of it is us thinking in terms of horror, it’s scarier when you don’t fully understand what’s happening. If you were to encounter something from another world or dimension, it would be beyond comprehension. We talked a lot about Clive Barker and his stories. They’re very weird, and the weirder it is, the more inexplicable it is, the scarier it is.

As you head into future seasons, have you thought about how much of that 30-page document you want to reveal and explore?

Ross: We leave these dangling threads at the end. If people respond to this show and we get to continue this story — we had those initial discussions of where we might go with it. If there was going to be a season two, we would reveal more of that 30 page document, but we’d still want to keep it from the point of view of our original characters.

Even though you tell a complete story within the season, you end on a couple of major cliffhangers — the first being Eleven’s disappearance. Did you want to hint at where she’s been with the scene of Hopper leaving Eggos in the woods?

Matt: Obviously something happened to her when she destroyed and killed that monster and we don’t know what she went. Hopper is left with this guilt because he sold her out. We wanted to leave it sort of mysterious exactly what he knows… Have there been sightings in the woods or is he hoping she’s out there or has he already made contact with her? We don’t answer any of that, but we like the idea of potentially putting her and Hopper together.

It also seems that the Upside Down has changed Will or maybe he’s brought some of it back with him. What can you say about the flash he has in the bathroom?

Ross: We love the idea that [the Upside Down] is an environment that is not a great place for a human being to be living in. Will’s been there for an entire week, and it’s had some kind of effect on him, both emotionally and perhaps physically. The idea is he’s escaped this nightmare place, but has he really? That’s a place we wanted to go and potentially explore in season two. What effect does living in there for a week have on him? And what has been done to him? It’s not good, obviously.

Stranger Things Christmas Lights

They discussed more of these plot points with IGN:

IGN: What can you say about where Eleven is? That’s a very open question, of course, since there are different worlds you’re dealing with here.

Ross: It is. We wanted to leave it purposefully ambiguous. We always, from the very beginning, liked this sort of childlike idea that this escapee from this facility with these amazing powers would be able to just move into Mike’s basement and they’d have this wonderful life together and she’d go to school. It’s not that simple. The goal is to make it as complicated as possible, and without going into too much detail, to really tear them apart at the end of that season, to make things much more difficult. But we love Eleven.

Matt: But the great thing about having a portal to another dimension is that you’re not boxed in, narratively. There’s a lot we can do.

Ross: What did James Cameron say? No one’s ever dead in sci-fi.

IGN: Will clearly has been changed by this experience, it doesn’t seem in a great way. But he’s not the only one that went over there. Should we assume he might not be the only one affected?

Ross: That’s a good question. Though I will say that Will obviously was in there much longer. He had that thing hooked up to him. He went through a much more traumatic experience. A big part of Season 2 that we’ve been discussing is what is that effect? Did it affect anyone else? But specifically, is Will okay? The short answer being no.

Matt: But you’re absolutely right, three of the other characters were in there.

Ross: And they took off their helmets. And we know it’s a toxic environment. Nancy was in there too. Yeah, that’s an interesting question…

IGN: Is that the cool thing about doing a time jump? Asking what has Will been like in the year in between?

Ross: Yeah, that’s exactly it. And how have these characters moved on with their lives and not just in the plot and supernatural [aspect] but also just in terms of their characters and what have they done to fill that time?

Matt: We like that they’ve all had a very traumatic, nightmare experience together and after it’s over they kind of try to sweep it all under the rug. Season 2 would be very differently, structurally. It would be that everything seems great on the surface and then there are hints that things aren’t okay or that there are lingering effects from what happened last year. The initial instinct is to push that back and sweep that crap back under the rug but eventually it becomes impossible to ignore and so they have to confront the repercussions of everything they’ve experienced. I like to think about Stephen King’s It too. — that’s a big time jump. They jump like thirty years. But the idea that the evil is still there and comes back to haunt them and one of the characters finds out about it and kills themselves immediately. That image always stuck with me.

IGN: We see Hopper go for a little meeting at the end there. What can you say about everything he was involved in and how it might open up the world?

Ross: The intention in the scene when he gets in the car – and we want to get into this in the next season – is the clean up of what happened and the mess of all this and Will dying and coming back to life, whatever happened at the school, and the dead bodies… This is not a simple clean up job. It’s complicated. We have all these characters that know that these crazy things happen. We liked the idea that, sort of lead by Hopper, our characters are drawn closer to the government, in terms of having to make a bit of a deal with the devil. To us, that’s an exciting place to take our story.

Matt: But also the idea of going back to the laboratory and pull back the curtain a little bit. Maybe they brought someone new in. It’s not as evil and mysterious as it was in Season 1. We might start to get into what they’re doing a bit little more. Maybe they seem a little bit more friendly… as least at the beginning. A lot of the agents involved in that project are dead.

Ross: The monster and Eleven did a clean sweep of that whole operation, really.

Matt: So it would be new people which I think is cool. I think our initial instinct, when you talk about all of this stuff and “Oh god, this is all such a pain in the ass. We created such a mess.” But then we decided let’s just lean into the problems this created.

Ross: And even someone like Barb, where we left them, her poor parents think she’s just run away. There’s no closure there at this point, which I think is another reason why audiences are reacting like that. They’re like “You saved this boy, but…” What we were trying to do with that last scene in the hospital when Nancy leaves and Jonathan catches her right as she’s going is that there isn’t closure for Nancy. There isn’t closure for Barb’s parents. There is still, despite the relief that our boys are feeling, there still was tragedy here. We want to make sure that we don’t forget about that. We don’t want to forget about Barb.

Stranger Things

Collider asked about the benefits of working with Netflix:

Eight episodes was the perfect length for the Season 1 narrative. Was that your decision, to keep it that tight?

MATT: Yes, it was.

ROSS: When we first pitched it to Netflix, we said, “This is an eight-episode story,” and they were like, “Great!” That’s the amazing thing about Netflix. They do not dictate. They don’t tell anyone that it should be 10 episodes or 13 episodes. They just say, “What do you need to tell your story?,” and that’s an amazing freedom that most storytellers who are working in film or TV haven’t had. This is a very recent thing. On television, you’ve gotta have a certain number of breaks for commercials. You’re working on a very clear structure.

MATT: On Wayward Pines, we were writing to commercial breaks.

ROSS: And you know how many episodes it has to be because they’ve got so many slots. Or with a film, you know it can’t be too long ‘cause you can’t get enough showings in. You’re very locked in. So, I think it’s an exciting time. We can play around a bit with form and length, and all of that, and it really just boils down to what we need to tell the story.

MATT: But even though this show has been successful, there’s no pressure to make it 13 episodes. People say, “They need to make way more episodes,” but I like to think one of the reasons it works for people is because it’s paced and it feels like a movie, and that’s because it’s not too long. I think, if we pushed it to 13 episodes, we’d have to start coming up with all these bullshit adventures they’re going on, that aren’t directly tied to the main tension. Eight felt about right. But if we’re developing Season 2 and it feels like seven or nine or eleven, Netflix would support any of those lengths.

How long do you see this series running? Have you thought about future seasons?

ROSS: We don’t know, specifically. We’re very weary of making it go on past the point it should. You want to end on a high note. That’s the goal. We’ve had initial discussions, but we haven’t quite landed on it.

Stranger Things Eleven

They spoke more about the structure of the series with Huffington Post:

One reason “Stranger Things” is effective is because the monster is revealed slowly. At first, it’s only glimpses. That out-of-sight, fear-of-the-unknown quality feels very “Jaws.”

Ross: “Jaws” was a big one. It’s a classic. The shark not working while making that movie made it much better. Also, we looked a lot at Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” On YouTube, there’s a cut of all the instances where you see the alien in that first movie, and it’s a couple minutes long. And that’s a two-hour movie. I think the reason it’s so scary is that, when it does appear, it has a certain amount of impact. So we thought, OK, we’re going to see the shadow in Episode 1, because we knew we had eight episodes. We were trying to slowly reveal it, until you finally saw the full thing. We don’t really deal with it until Episode 8. It’s a dude in a suit, and I remember reading old interviews with Ridley Scott about “Alien.” The studio was upset with him for it because it’s an amazing alien suit and you’re not shooting it. But the reason is because so much of it will look like a guy in a suit, and so much of it is that what you don’t see is much scarier. We tried to go back to that old-school style of filmmaking…

I want to pose a logistical plot question: Why did Will survive the Upside Down but Barb didn’t?

Matt: Right, I guess we think of it as ― and this is continuing with the “Jaws” references ― it’s the other dimension, the Upside Down, where the shark lives, and every once in a while it comes out of that ocean into our world on the surface and then it grabs a victim and pulls them down to the Upside Down. You saw Barb at the top of Episode 3 in the Upside Down. Just imagine that’s a world, and Barb tried to escape and failed to escape, but Will was sneakier, so he was able to escape. He was able to hide. He goes, initially, to that cubby in Episode 3 inside the Byers’ house, which is why Joyce is able to communicate with him. We had this whole backstory for what Will is doing, but we don’t see it all.

Ross: It’s more like the monster bringing him back to the net, which is why Hopper and Joyce are able to distract Will into being held in this net like a spider caught in its web. He’s brought there by the monster for eating later. Is he there for other reasons? We don’t know. We have ideas.

The way the season ends, there are enough questions answered for it to almost stand as a complete series. But the many unresolved mysteries set up an obvious next chapter. How much of the backstory regarding Dr. Brenner’s experiments and Eleven’s history did you have in place from the get-go?

Matt: We had ideas that we were sort of feeling out. We have a lot more backstory built in for Brenner and Eleven. Every time that we were writing scenes in the Hawkins Lab, we wanted to stop writing them, just because it seemed like we wanted to experience as much of it as possible in the present day and through the eyes of our ordinary characters. We just wanted to leave that as mysterious as possible. I hope that, with the mystery, people are responding to it and it’s not frustrating. But to us, the sci-fi elements are so much more fun if we’re understanding it via our characters. I like that basically everything we understand about what is going on is pretty much through the boys. And they’re only able to understand it through Dungeons and Dragons terminology and by talking to their science teacher, Mr. Clark. It’s all sort of hypothetical. I never wanted any scenes in the laboratory where you have Brenner and the scientists sitting around discussing what’s going on. And Eleven even doesn’t fully understand how she wound up where she wound up and what their plans for her are, so there are very few scenes with Brenner without one of our other main characters. The scenes that are with Brenner and not our main characters have almost no dialogue in them.

Ross: Moving forward, we’re going to get more into detail about the monster and where it came from and what the Upside Down really is. But with this season, we talked a lot about “Poltergeist.” At the end of the day, what really matters in “Poltergeist” is that Carol Anne is missing and they have to go through a portal in the closet to get her back. That matters more than the backstory. People want explanations for all that, so while we have answers for all this, what we really wanted to get from this first season is that this gate opens to this other dimension. What it really boils down to is, Will is in there and we have to get him back. The hope was that, because we resolved that, the first season will be satisfying to people and work as a stand-alone. Hopefully we get to go back and explore more of this stuff.

Mr Robot Alf

While Stranger Things brought us back to the 1980’s, Mr. Robot had a surprising beginning by opening as if it was a 1990’s sit-com, including appearances from Alf. If you haven’t watched it yet, do not skip the commercials, as they play into the illusion of a 1990’s television show. Of course, like other less obvious examples on the show, we are seeing what is happening in Eliot’s head as opposed to reality. There was even a plausible explanation for this, which led to a reconciliation with the imaginary Mr. Robot portion of him, after attempts by each to destroy the other earlier in the season. While we still do not know what happened to Tyrell Wellick, he does have a symbolic appearance here also.

I’m still waiting for WikiLeaks to reveal ties between Evil Corp, The Clinton Foundation, and The Trump Organization–the true axis of evil (even if one is symbolic and only two are real). Actually, on some level, I think that this is what Sam Esmail is trying to tell us.

Democracy Hacked

Bryan Fuller is slowly teasing news on Star Trek Discovery. It will take place ten years before the original show, bridging events between Enterprise and the original Star Trek. There will be seven lead characters including a gay character, and a female lead who plays a lieutenant commander, providing a different perspective than leading with the Captain as on other series.

The bathroom at The Way Station bar in Brooklyn is bigger on the inside than on the outside. The video above has a tour of the TARDIS themed bathroom.

In other Doctor Who news, the 1996 movie staring Paul McGann is being released on Blu-ray later this year.

Jenna Coleman and Karen Gillan had a joint appearance at Boston Comic Con. Hopefully someone videotaped it and will upload it soon.

Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies, died at age 81 during the past week.