SciFi Weekend: Top Twenty New Shows Of 2016; Mary Tyler Moore and John Hurt Die; Genre Novels In The Age Of Trump; Riverdale Premieres

With over four hundred scripted shows (expected to surpass 500 in 2017) it is probably impossible for any one person to fairly rank the best of any season. Even many professional television critics, who don’t have another day job interfering, have said  how difficult it is to watch all the shows to do their end of year rankings. To make it more manageable, and to get around problems of listing the same top shows every year, I have limited this to the best new shows every season. Last year’s list is here and the top new shows of 2014 were listed here.

It got even harder this year with so many new streaming shows, some not dropping until December. In order to include more shows, I waited until the end of January to post the list. As usual, there are shows which I have heard very good things about which I have not watched at all. I put in a couple of shows towards the end of the list which I only watched parts of the season, and might rank them higher if I were to watch more. Also, as usual, it is very difficult to compare shows from different genre’s, or shows watched months apart. If you disagree with some of the rankings, it is very likely I also might agree and rank them differently if I were to do this on a different day. The real point of lists such as this is to point out shows which were worth watching.

Top 20 New Shows Of 2016

20. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW Network)

If based upon the premiere of the show in early 2016, this show would not have made the list, however it was much better when it returned for a second season in the fall. If you gave up on it last year, as I almost did, it is worth another look.

19. Class (BBC)

A Doctor Who spinoff aimed at an older audience than TheMary Jane Adventures. Torchwood (in its early years) remains the only spinoff I consider must see, but fans should find this enjoyable. It aired in the UK last fall, and will be shown in the U.S. this spring after Doctor Who. While I understand the decision in the U.S., I personally found it to be of more value as a fall show to fill the gap when, besides the Christmas episode, there was no true Doctor Who.

18. Fleabag (Amazon Prime)

I wasn’t as in love with this show as the critics, but if you have Amazon Prime, it is well worth checking it out and deciding for  yourself. The entire season is only about three hours, making it essentially a long movie. There is a definite payoff to some of the events of the season in the finale.

17. Atlanta (FX)

Another show which many would probably rank higher. I started watching when it premiered, but then it got forgotten in September because of a combination of being busy with personal matters and the premiers of all the fall shows. It very could rank higher after I see more.

16. Dirk Gentry’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America)

A fun and very quirky genre show which, by the end, definitely qualifies as science fiction.

15. Billions (Showtime)

An entertaining cable series. It’s most important benefit was to give Damian Lewis somewhere else to go to make sure they didn’t get desperate and try to bring him back to life on Homeland.

14. Speechless (ABC)

A few years ago it looked like network sitcoms were on the verge of death, beyond The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family. ABC has managed to continue to make worthwhile sitcoms with the Modern Family formula, including Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, and now Speechless.

13. Goliath (Amazon Prime)

Billy Bob Thorton makes what could have been a run of the mill lawyer show well worth watching

12. The Crown (Netflix)

A young queen ascends to the thrown in a high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner played by Matt Smith, who adds a bit of whimsy to the show.

11. Victoria (ITV and PBS)

A young queen ascends to the thrown in a not-so-high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner. This also has strong connections to the Doctor Who world including Victoria being played by Jenna Coleman, with supporting cast including Eve Myles from Torchwood. It doesn’t have the budget of The Crown, but in deciding upon the ranking I deferred to my wife’s opinion. This aired in the UK last fall and recently started airing in the United States on PBS.

10. Luke Cage (Netflix)

The latest introduction of a Marvel character on Netflix. It could not meet the extremely high bar set last year by Jessica Jones, but was better than the second season of Daredevil.

9. The Magicians (Syfy)

Much more than an adult Harry Potter, but that would make a starting point to explain what this series is about. Yes, it did technically have an advanced showing of the pilot in 2015, but I’ll still consider this to essentially be a 2016 series. I watched the uncut episodes later in the year, and the editing for television on the premier episode of the second season last week was noticeable.

8. The Good Place (NBC)

A sitcom which has a continuing story, a genre element, discusses philosophy, plus has Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Extra points for having one of the best plot twists on television in recent years.

7. This Is Us (NBC)

I thought that quality drama was dead on NBC with the ending of Parenthood, but this fills the gap. It had a fairly good twist of its own in the pilot but, unlike in The Good Place, I saw this one coming. The bigger surprise was that Mandy Moore could do such a good job acting. Sure it is full of old television cliches and spends most episodes tugging at the heart strings, but it does a good job of it.

6. 11.22.63 (Hulu)

Received mixed views but I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation of the Stephen King time travel novel. (No comparison between this and the messed up adaptation of  Under the Dome). More on the show here.

5. Travelers (Showcase and Netflix)

Another low budget Canadian science fiction series filmed in Vancouver. This one is well-written and highly recommended, plus now easily available in the US on Netflix. The premise is that travelers from the future send their consciousness back to our present to prevent an apocalyptic future, taking over the bodies of people at the time of their recorded death. (I was  hoping that something like this would happen on January 20.) Besides having to attend to their mission, the travelers have to cope with the lives they took over–and sometimes their information was a bit off.

4. The Night Of (HBO)

A great self-contained story which shows both problems in the criminal justice system and xenophobia.

3. The Night Manager (BBC and AMC)

An excellent adaptation of the John le Carré novel. It was such a success that BBC and AMC are planning a second adaptation.

2. Stranger Things (Netflix)

The surprise hit from last summer. The series, with explanations of the finale, was discussed here.

1. West World (HBO)

The most discussed new show of the season, with mainstream critics also falling for this science fiction series. I looked at the show at various times, with a discussion of the season finale here.

There are also shows which might make the list which I did not see. I didn’t see any point in rehashing the O.J. Simpson story, but note that The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story  (FX) has received considerable critical acclaim. Many other shows, including genre dramas such as The OA (Netflix) and comedies such as One Mississippi (Amazon Prime) are also recommended by many people.

In past years I have found shows which I did not see when new, but saw them in subsequent years and thought they deserved to be in my rankings. This year I caught up on season one and two of Dark Matter (Syfy) and loved the show. I then tried Killjoys (Syfy) and didn’t get into it. I only watched the first episode, which might not be enough to judge it. I also thought that perhaps I was expecting Dark Matter and it might be better to watch some other shows before trying it again so I could judge it on its own merit.

It is notable that, once again, cable (both basic and premium), British imports, and especially streaming, dominate the list, with very little from the major American networks.

2016 ended with the loss of one beloved actress, Carrie Fisher, and began with the loss of another, Mary Tyler Moore. Later in the week, John Hurt died. While he is more famous for other roles, among science fiction fans he might be best remembered as the War Doctor for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.

The past two weekends also were dominated by protests against Donald Trump. Earlier this week I looked at one good thing to come from Trump’s election–people are talking about books. This includes the classic 1984, as well as two other novels in which populist authoritarians became president. Even Doctor Who has been cited in discussion of the alternative facts coming from the Trump administration.

This week included the return of several genre shows, as well as the premiere of The CW’s reimagination of Archie comics, Riverdale. After watching Riverdale, I have three questions:

1) Who killed Jason Blossom?
2) What real teen talks about Truman Capote and about Mad Men by season?
3) And the old classic question, Betty or Veronica?

SciFi Weekend: The Big Reveal on Game of Thrones; Orphan Back; Person of Interest; DC & Marvel News; Star Trek; The Handmaid’s Tale

Game of Thrones Jon Snow

While technically a spoiler for those who have not seen lase week’s episode of Game of Thrones, there was little doubt that Jon Snow would return in some form. While he has returned to life, so far all we have seen is his eyes open and beyond that he might not be entirely the same. Vulture looks at some of the possibilities, including that his wounds might never heal or that he might not have his memories. They also speculate that his death might have terminated his vow to to the Night’s Watch which “shall not end until my death.” If so, this would allow him to take other roles, such as leading the North and/or returning to aide the surviving  Starks.

Regardless of what happens to him, Kit Harrington is happy that he no longer has to lie to everyone.

Orphan Black Donnie

Orphan Black started out the season with a bit of a reboot and simplification of all the various conspiracies. The show is always at its best in dealing with the characters as opposed to overly complex conspiracies. While Tatiana Maslany is generally the show, supporting characters do have a lot to add, such as seeing Donny and Felix posing as a gay couple as part of the investigation of one of those conspiracies. It got even better when Donnie called Alison to help him provide a sperm specimen with phone sex in yet another classic scene in this series.

Person of Interest returned for its final season on CBS. A sneak peak from Comic-Con is above. The AV Club spoke with executive produces Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman. Here is a portion:

The A.V. Club:Since the beginning, this show that’s ostensibly been about artificial intelligence is really about human connection. What’s it like to thread that needle and how has it evolved over time?

Jonathan Nolan: It’s a great question. And it’s a big challenge. I remember Greg and I talking from the beginning about the collision between the more esoteric ideas in the pilot and how we were going to draw emotions and humanism and a recurring interest from the audience out of all those ideas. There are a lot of ideas in the show, and it’s something I’m very proud of. It’s funny, it’s not a normal show for CBS, but people kind of found it, which is exciting.

That link between the big ideas of the show and the characters—we’ve concentrated on it so hard from the beginning, because we wanted to explore all these crazy ideas about the surveillance state, big data, and AI—and the collision of all of that on a personal level. And from the beginning, I’ve felt like there was a great connection there between big data and the kind of “normal” violent crimes that you find in a major city like New York. I’m just kind of fascinated by the idea of the collision of all of those things. But the thing that people keep tuning in for is the characters. Week in, week out, you’re looking not for ideas, necessarily, although it’s great when your shows have ideas in them, but for the characters to become extended family. Especially in broadcast TV, that’s what happens on that level: When you’re on weekly, your characters come back and you connect with them every week. So, as you said, threading that needle becomes the challenge throughout all five seasons.

AVC:One of the great things is how you were able to connect to The Machine, even on a very personal level. The Machine was gendered female, whereas Samaritan has stayed relatively genderless. Can you expand on that?

JN: I think the gender question, you know, they’re obviously connected. If you want to understand the impact that any SI, or super intelligence, will have—and it’s pat, but it’s accurate—but it’s as if there were no gods and we made them, right? God has often been gendered in the West in a masculine light, which is absurd, but it evolved sort of organically, talking about The Machine as a person. Finch always referred to The Machine as “it” or a thing, but for Root there’s always been more of a personal connection there, a belief in The Machine as a being. So her personification of it—sadly, in the West, we have to gender things to personify them—it seemed most apt that she would think of it in those terms. There’s also something else we’re doing with that: If you’ve paid close attention to the show and where we’re going, there’s a little bit of foreshadowing there as well.

AVC:It seems as though The Machine went through a rebellion phase when it really started to only speak through Root. Will this season be about The Machine becoming more mature in that sense and answering to everybody?

JN: I’m picturing a hormonal artificial super intelligence.

Greg, what are you thinking?

Greg Plageman: I think the interesting relationship for me is Harold Finch and his creation. And there’s always been a troubling conundrum for Finch, building this thing that’s so powerful yet that could overtake us. He’s never been quite comfortable with the idea of an ASI—building something that’s more intelligent than us and us expecting that we could still actually control it. So he’s always had that dilemma that he’s been grappling with, and that caused him to put a limiter on The Machine. What Root has always implored Harold Finch to do is take the gloves off the thing because we’re losing—we’re losing to a much more diabolical creation.

So I think the evolution of that relationship of Harold Finch and his machine this season, in terms of reconstituting it, and how it’s going to be different this time, it’s almost like, what’s the point? What’s the point, Harold, if you’re going to put a limiter on this thing all over again, as Root has always told him in terms of her wanting to let this thing go and to see what it can do. It becomes an exploration of Harold Finch’s character that I think the audience is going to find very fascinating.

AVC:Do you think that if we had been watching the team behind Samaritan from the beginning, rather than the team behind The Machine, that we would be pro-Samaritan?

JN: I think that’s one of the delicious things about what we’ve been doing with this storyline and where we’ve gone with it in this last season. I’m always most excited about and drawn to villains who have a point of view and have a plan. One of the most exciting things about The Joker in The Dark Knight is, he may be a villain in your eyes, but he’s the only person who hasn’t broken his own rules. Everyone else has, everyone else has corrupted themselves, but he’s in many ways one of the most ethical people in the film in terms of their own ideas. He had an idea, and it drives the story forward. We applied a similar approach here, but even more rationally. A lot of things that Samaritan espouses are believed by the people who work for Samaritan, the same way that I’m sure people who work for Facebook don’t believe that they’re working for the company that will destroy the world. But, you know, they are. And everyone gets through the day rationalizing their own existence.

GP: It’s sort of fascinating right now what’s happening in Russia with Putin’s control of the media and the way the everyday Russian views the West now or the United States. It just depends on who’s telling the story. There was a moment where Root met Greer and he sort of said these things to her: “You and I are not all that unalike.”


CBS has not decided yet about renewing Supergirl, with cost being an issue. Ideas being considered include moving the show to Vancouver and airing fewer episodes. It might also move to CW with the other Berlantiverse shows. (If necessary to make room for all the superhero shows, I’d suggest cancelling Legends of Tomorrow and airing Supergirl instead).

At ABC, it has not been decided whether to return Agent Carter or go ahead with Marvel’s Most Wanted. If they don’t air the second, I wonder if they would write Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood back into Agents of SHIELD. With the way they were written out, it wouldn’t be hard for Coulson to decide he doesn’t care what the Russians think and bring them back–especially as they are operating secretly. We should have news on May 17 from ABC.

Needless to say, there has been a lot out in the past week on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of Captain America: Civil War. To avoid spoilers I will postpone discussing this until a later date. Here is one link of interest–the backstory from the comics of the history of fights between Captain American and Iron-Man.

CBS All Access remains on track to begin the new Star Trek series in January, 2017. They will be releasing one episode per week.

Hulu will be showing a ten-episode miniseries based upon Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale  in 2017. It will star Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) had will be written by Bruce Miller of The 100. Miller will c0-executive produce the series along with Daniel Wilson (who worked on the movie version of the book), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents) and Warren Littlefield (Fargo). I suspect they will also be releasing an episode a week as they did with the adaptation of 11.22.63.

Speaking of Mad Men, here’s a chance to explore Don Draper’s apartment in 3-D. It would be even more fun to have an apartment like this to spend some time at in Manhattan.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Americans; Sleepy Hollow; 11/23/63; Orphan Black; The 100; Sherlock; Bruce Springsteen

Arrow Cemetary

It looks like many shows think that they can duplicate the  success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead by killing off characters. There are more major spoilers this week. Recent posts have already dealt with character deaths, and there were more to look at this week. Some were handled better than others.

We knew for quite a while that there would be a death on Arrow this season, but none of the discussion I’ve seen predicted that it would be such a major death, even though major characters have been killed on this show since the beginning. It does make sense to kill Laurel as they never really knew what to do with her beyond the first season when the ex-girlfriend role made sense. They have varied so much from the comics that it is not necessary to keep her, especially as it appears, despite their current troubles, that Oliver is fated to wind up with Felicity and not Laurel.

Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle, and Paul Blackthorne (Detective Lance) discussed the episode with Entertainment Weekly. Here are some of the questions:

But seriously, why Laurel?

“Obviously Arrow is always a show that’s evolving,” Guggenheim says. “It’s always a show where every character, arguably except for the Arrow, is fair game. We started off this year with the promise of a death and when we worked our way through our various different creative choices, we realized that the thing that will give us the most pop going into the end of the season and into next season unfortunately would be Laurel.”

Was she killed because some of the fanbase doesn’t like Laurel?

“When I say it gives us a lot of pop I don’t mean on the Internet or publicity, I mean creatively for the show,” Guggenheim says. “Every time we’ve killed off a character on the show, it’s really been for the effect it has on all the characters left behind. I don’t want to spoil the end of season 4 or what we have planned for season 5, which we’re already in the room working on, but the way we always describe it is the creative math. How divisive Laurel is as a character on Twitter is not a factor. Truth be told, Twitter is a very specific sub-segment. The number of people who don’t like Laurel is probably an infinitesimally small group, so it’s not, as they say, statistically relevant.”

But shouldn’t Oliver and Laurel be endgame?

“One of the things we knew people would think was, ‘Oh, well, in the season where Oliver and Felicity get engaged and Laurel dies, that’s clearly making a choice about who’s going to end up with who,” Guggenheim says. “Truth be told, we told the Laurel-Oliver romance story in season 1. We told that story. We never really thought about going back to it. The ‘shipping thing was not an element, it was not a factor to us. We recognize that that upsets a lot of fans, particularly the comic book fans.”

Yeah! Oliver and Laurel end up together in the comics! What gives?

“In the comics, Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen, depending on which version of the character you like, are in a romance together in various iterations,” Guggenheim says. “That, to some people, is considered canonical and iconic, and we respect that, but at the same time we’ve always made no bones about the fact that we are telling our own version of the Green Arrow mythos. The Green Arrow has had so many different interpretations, and Black Canary has had so many different interpretations over the years, that we never felt beholden to one particular interpretation. This is our interpretation, like it or not, and I recognize there are plenty of people up and down my Twitter feed who do not like it. I totally respect that. But it made the most creative sense for us going forward despite the fact that we love Katie, absolutely love Katie.”

So could Laurel come back to life?

“Not getting a chance to work with Katie day in and day out is tempered by the fact that we now live in a universe where there’s resurrection, parallel earths, time travel, flashbacks — we have all these different ways of keeping Katie in the Arrow-verse family,” Guggenheim says. “In fact, you will see her on an episode of Flash playing the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance. Katie is reprising her role as Laurel of Earth-1 to be in Vixen season 2. Death does not mean goodbye on any of these shows, but we made a creative choice and we’re sticking to it. We’re recognizing that Black Canary and Laurel have an incredibly loyal fanbase, and Katie has an incredibly loyal fanbase, but the show has never been just about the comic book history, it’s never been just about one or two different particular fanbases. We make the creative choices we feel benefit the show as a whole and the story that we’re telling overall.”

But by bringing her back on other shows, doesn’t that cheapen Laurel’s death?

“We definitely recognize across all three shows that when we kill off a character, it means something different now,” Guggenheim says. “I’m not going to put a qualitative judgment on whether it’s more or less impactful. I’ll leave that to the audience, but certainly we acknowledge there’s a difference. Arrow, much more so than Flash or Legends, it traffics in death. We started off the series of the apparent death of Sara Lance and the actual death of Robert Queen and a hero who murdered people. For better or for worse, death is part of the show. What we’re finding is that death now, as it should by the way, when you start to get where we are pushing into season 5, the show has to evolve, it has to change. The concept of death on this show is evolving and changing as we’ve already seen with Sara Lance, and with seeing Laurel in a parallel universe. There’s a world where we do an episode where Oliver Queen meets the Laurel Lance of Earth-2. That’s now on the table. Time travel is now on the table. As the show has evolved, so has death.”

The interview also dealt with reactions from the other characters, and revealed that we will not find out what Laurel said to Oliver before she died until next season, showing that the death of Laurel will be impacting the show for some time. As noted in the interview, Katie Cassidy will appear as an Earth-2 version of Laurel on The Flash. Her sister will also get a chance to react to her death on Legends of Tomorrow. Additional interviews from cast and crew can be seen here.

In other Arrow news, Echo Kellum (Curtis) has been promoted to a series regular for season 5, and presumably will be an active part of Team Arrow. I also would not be surprised to see Felicity getting back with the team, whether or not it takes time for her to get back with Oliver.

THE AMERICANS -- "Dimebag" Episode 304 (Airs Wednesday, February 18, 10:00 PM e/p) Pictured: Annet Mahendru Nina Sergeevna. CR: Ali Goldstein/FX

The Americans had the death of a major character at a strange time. (More spoilers here). It would have made more sense to end Nina’s story at the end of last season rather than continuing it so briefly this year, but many of the plot thread from last season were left to continue this year. It also provided an interesting look at how such executions were handled, with Nina being shot only three seconds after being told her appeal was denied and her death sentence would be carried out shortly.

TV Line discussed the episode with Joe Fields:

TVLINE | When was she originally supposed to die?
JOEL FIELDS | We went back and forth a little bit. There was a point at which we thought she might go at the end of Season 3. Then we fussed around with different episodes in Season 4. So yeah, there was a little bit of elasticity to it.

TVLINE | Why, ultimately, the decision to kill off Nina now?
FIELDS | It was really all about how the story laid out and how it fit in with other stories. … You do get very attached to these characters. As writers, you get very attached to them, and as actors, you fuse with them in a certain way. So it feels like a real loss.

TVLINE | So poor Nina was always doomed?
FIELDS | Well, not from the very beginning. And frankly, you’ve got to define “doomed.” The truth is, this character transformed in a way that has great meaning, and she could have maybe found a way to continue on as somebody who would do anything to survive. But instead, she grew. And she grew into a character who was willing to take a risk to do the right thing for someone else. Although she paid the ultimate price for it, she grew into a much fuller person. Yes, she made her choices, and in all seriousness, we have a lot of respect for her choices.

TVLINE | The method of her death was so brutal and quick. How did you land on that?
WEISBERG | That’s how they actually executed traitors. We learned about it from a book written by our consultant, Sergei Kostin. His book came out after the end of the Cold War, and we tried to follow it beat by beat in our script. Our director followed it beat by beat [and] beautifully shot it. As soon as we read it, we thought, “This is the way to do it.” It was so dramatic and so powerful and, interestingly enough, so humane. Because the reason they came up with that system was to spare the person being shot any foreknowledge about what was going to happen so they wouldn’t suffer and be afraid.

TVLINE | Nina has been separated from much of the main cast for a while now. Will her death reverberate for the rest of the characters somehow?
WEISBERG | I think it’s safe to say that Oleg’s father is very highly placed in the Soviet government, so he could easily find out what happened. I don’t think we ever saw that story as separated as maybe some people did. Even though the role was not as interconnected in the way that things are interconnected today with the internet and communications, it was still an interconnected role at the heart.

TVLINE | Did Oleg’s dad try to reach out to help her?
WEISBERG | He did try, but he just wasn’t successful.

The Americans Nina Execution

Spoiler TV has an interview with Annet Mahendru who played Nina, and also appeared in The X-Files revival this year:

Could you talk a bit about Nina’s motivations for helping Anton [Baklanov], what her mindset is and how you dealt with the change in her this season?

Annet Mahendru: I think last season we see it goes on for a while, she’s figuring him out, she’s always about the other – she’s kind of a reactor to things – and she doesn’t quite know what to do with Anton and she sees a human being for the first time and it brings that out of her. And she’s exhausted, she’s been in this hamster wheel over and over buying her life out, walking this thin line and you know, every decision, every step, it’s life or death for her and she’s exhausted and she’s falling and she can’t do this anymore. And he moves something in her. For the first time it’s something very direct: he has a son, and she’s given all that up when she entered this profession and she finds joy in his world and his letters and love and for the first time I think we see her happy and she literally gives up everything for that moment of happiness and that’s her freedom from that tragic life that she has chosen and has been dealing with [since we met] her. So I think for joy and for just she lives for the first time and that’s what she needs to do to live and sometimes you need to change in order to survive and that’s what she does.

Nina seemed quite resigned when reading the statement from Baklanov. Do you think she’s at peace with her fate now?

Annet Mahendru: I think she’s content, she is, she’s very much settled and she’s ok now because she did something for the first time that allowed her to be who she is and something that she saw, you know she has done everything to secure the future of the Soviet Union, this cause, this great cause that is so far-fetched and to hear something so direct – there’s a boy that needs to know that his dad loves him and she did that and that’s the greatest thing she’s ever done.

What was your reaction like when you got the script for this episode? Did [creators] Joel [Fields] and Joe [Weisberg] give you some heads up or did you find out as you were reading?

Annet Mahendru: (Laughs) Goodness no, I got the first script and then I got a phone call and you kind of wait for that phone call from the get-go – everytime they call you, that might be the phone call. It finally came and I played it really cool because you’d think you’d be prepared for it but you absolutely are not. I was angry at them, I loved them, I felt every single thing you could possibly feel and I remember my mom was like “it’s not you dying, it’s Nina, it’s Nina” because it just felt like a part of me that I was so lucky to be able to tap into and that I had to also say goodbye to. And the weird thing is I felt like in the 2nd episode I’m getting to know Nina, she’s meeting her husband, she finally has her own mission, her transformation that she desperately needed and I felt like I had just gotten a taste of her and that’s it and then like an episode later she’s dead. So that little bit of joy, that little bit of her that I finally got, it was so fleeting and it was over before I could really embrace it and it was really sad. We’ve all been, since the beginning, treasuring her and fighting for her – it’s really been a fight – and it just made me realise that it’s just such a tragic life and that it’s real, you know, this happens out there and it made me really angry.

Could you compare working on a show like this to working on a show like The X-Files?

Annet Mahendru: You know, it was really ironic, it was like a double death for my characters this year. It was a lot of death but Sveta died for the reopening of the X-Files and Nina died for starting something very important for an individual. It was a really difficult season and also the greatest season at the same time. The X-Files was a real treat and it was another special story that I got to tell.

Sleepy Hollow

From a mass audience perspective the death on the season (and perhaps series) finale of Sleepy Hollow was the biggest, but as I was also giving up on the show it mattered the least to me. (More spoilers ahead). The she had already lost its way after the first season, when it centered around the relationship between Ichabod and Abbie. There is no news yet as to whether the series will be renewed. While this was also not a very satisfactory way to end the series, it would probably be best to end it now, unless someone can go back in time and end it after the first season.

TV Line discussed the episode with showrunner Clifton Campbell:

TVLINE | I’m going to jump in with the big question first: Is Abbie really dead? Is this the last we’ll see of her?
The character of Abbie Mills makes the supreme sacrifice to save the world, and her character dies in the season finale, yes. To answer the second part of that question, she will not return to the show as Abbie Mills. There’s certainly the possibility, given our really good relationship with Nicole and how much she’s help build us these past three seasons, that reflections of her will be around and that the idea of her will be around is certainly something we’ve all talked about, but not as the character of Abbie Mills.

TVLINE | So is Nicole Beharie no longer with the show?
Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills is no longer with the show. The character is dead. But we’ve had a terrific run with her. She’s been an absolute delight. She helped build out the mythology of the show, and we’ve had a tremendous run with her. The character is gone and, like I said, in Sleepy Hollow it’s always surprising to see how the reflections of one character or another can influence the show moving forward.

TVLINE | Ichabod’s grief over what happens is palpable, but I was struck by how Tom Mison played it contained. Did you think about Ichabod having a big emotional moment after he realizes she’s gone? Did you shoot any takes like that?
Listen, Tom has really created this character from the bottom up. His instincts are without parallel. His fearless creation of this character in all of these moments, particularly as they pertain to his relationship with Abbie Mills, is not something any of us would second guess. You picked up on that contained emotion — I think this is such a big moment, and a huge loss in his life and his world that he needs to process. At a point where we have that opportunity in the finale, he hasn’t quite reached that point yet.

TVLINE | Having Abbie sacrifice herself twice in the same season — fans might think, “Well, you brought her back last time…” What’s the fundamental difference between her going into the tree and her willingly entering Pandora’s box?
Well, she knew she wasn’t coming out of the box in the finale. She knew, because of what they learned in the catacombs, that the box was missing its hope, which is at the center of darkness and gave it context, gave it form. She knew she was giving herself to the box… that that meant she would not be coming back.

At the midseason break this year, it was more immediate. The Shard of Anubis was going to blow; her sister and Crane and everybody in close proximity could suffer catastrophic loss. Abbie knows she’s giving her life up at the end of Season 3 to save the world. The difference is, from the audience’s perspective, is [at the midseason break] she had fallen into a realm that we didn’t know about. She didn’t die.

112263 Finale

Hulu completed 11.23.63 last week with the series clearly being about whether one person, John Kennedy, would die. While I noted some negative reviews when the show first started, with some suggesting that viewers skip ahead to the final episode, I did find it enjoyable throughout the entire season. The finale did flow well from what was shown before.  (More spoilers ahead).

The series began by including a cosmic reset switch when introducing its rules for time travel. Whenever anyone went back in time, everything they did in a previous visit was reset and they could start all over again. Knowing about this reset switch from the start, the most obvious outcome was that Jake would be successful in preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but things would be worse because of him doing so and he would have to go back in time to reset this.

The show was not very clear as to why things were so awful when Jake returned to the present, leading me to quickly skim the ending of the book. In the book the issue comes down to matters of destruction because of making changes in time itself, as opposed to a result of Kennedy’s actions after remaining alive.

It was clear several episodes before the end that the real story was about what would happen between Jake and Sadie, a woman Jake fell in love with after going back in time. When he spoke about bringing her back to the present with him, my first thought was that we have seen people go back in time, but never forward in time from their timeline. Whether or not it was possible for Sadie to go forward in time, Jake had to sacrifice the relationship in order for her to live to have a  happy life. Over the course of the finale, John Kennedy and Sadie were both killed and not killed on different trips back in time.

Orphan Black returns on April 14 on BBC America. The first four minutes are above. Here is the synopsis, which does not even mention the events of the flashback with Beth Childs.

After two months of respite, Sarah’s hard-won refuge in Iceland is shattered by a Neolution attack. Once again forced to flee, she realizes no matter how far her family runs it will never be far enough.

Ricky Whittle is isn’t happy with how his character was handled on The 100 last week. This follows the controversy over the death of Lexa earlier in the season.

For those interested in still more television deaths, Geeks of Doom reviews the season finale of The Walking Dead.

Filming has begun on Season 4 of Sherlock, with Steven Moffat being vague in his comments on where the season goes.

Last week I noted how economic considerations, including pressure from Disney and other studios, led to a veto of a “religious liberties” law in Georgia. North Carolina has passed a similar discriminatory law, and now they have seen the first economic consequences of this:

Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday’s concert at the Greensboro Coliseum because of House Bill 2, saying in a statement that he and his band would show solidarity for North Carolinians working to oppose the law.

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” the singer wrote on his website. “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

…HB 2, passed quickly by the General Assembly in a one-day special session last month, prevents cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect lesbian, gay and transgender residents. Legislators passed the bill in response to an ordinance adopted in Charlotte that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, a provision overturned by the new law.

Dozens of businesses, including American Airlines, Dow Chemical, BioGen and Labcorp, have spoken out against the law. PayPal canceled a planned $3.6 million expansion in Charlotte that would have created 400 jobs, and dozens of people have canceled attendance at the semiannual furniture market in High Point that starts next weekend.

Cancellation of the Springsteen concert is the first major economic blow to Greensboro as a result of the law.

John Kasich said that he would not have signed the law:

“I believe that religious institutions ought to be protected and be able to be in a position of where they can live out their deeply held religious purposes,” Kasich, who’s running for the Republican presidential nomination, told host John Dickerson in an interview for Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” “But when you get beyond that it gets to be a tricky issue. And tricky is not the right word, but it can become a contentious issue.”

SciFi Weekend: Bryan Fuller Named Star Trek Showrunner; Valentines Day For Marvel Heroes; Agent Carter; Gilmore Girls; Flash & Supergirl; Outlander; 11/22/63; Better Call Saul; House of Cards; Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton As Comic Book Leads

Bryan Fuller Star Trek
Bryan Fuller has been named to be the showrunner for the upcoming Star Trek television series on the CBS All Access streaming service starting in January 2017. Fuller has certainly demonstrated his skills in running a first class genre series with his work on Hannibal. He is also a long time Star Trek fan:

“My very first experience of ‘Star Trek’ is my oldest brother turning off all the lights in the house and flying his model of a D7 Class Klingon Battle Cruiser through the darkened halls. Before seeing a frame of the television series, the ‘Star Trek’ universe lit my imagination on fire,” said Fuller. “It is without exaggeration a dream come true to be crafting a brand new iteration of ‘Star Trek’ with fellow franchise alum Alex Kurtzman and boldly going where no ‘Star Trek’ series has gone before.

Fuller also has experience with Star Trek, including writing two episodes of Deep Space Nine (which he has called his favorite Star Trek series) and twenty episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.

Variety reports that “The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises.” This still leaves open whether it will occur in the Roddenberry or Abrams time line, at what point it time it will occur, and whether it will encompass the entire Star Trek universe or be more limited as Voyager was.

For Valentines Day we have a special edition of Marvel Super Heroes in the video above.

Elsewhere in the Marvel universe, there is now a question as to whether Agent Carter will return as Haley Atwell has been cast in a pilot for an ABC drama entitled Conviction. It sounds doubtful that she will return to Agent Carter if the pilot is picked up, although this is a series which might return at any point in the future as time allows.

Girlmore Girls Rory Jess

Being Valentines Day, it is also significant that yet another of Rory’s old boyfriends has been cast for the Gilmore Girls revival, now adding Milo Ventimiglia. In an unexpected addition, Sutton Foster has also been cast. Will she reprise her role as Michelle and make this a Gilmore Girls/Bunheads cross over episode, will Foster play another Lorelei stand-in, or will she have an entirely different part.

Supergirl Flash Instragram

Grant Gustin has uploaded the first picture of himself and Melissa Benoist in this Glee reunion and Flash/Supergirl cross over.

The latest trailer for Outlander deals with attempting to change the future due to Claire’s knowledge of history. Outlander returns on Saturday, April 9th at 9pm ET.

11.22.63 also deals with attempts to change historical events. It premiers tomorrow and it is disappointing that USA Today gives it a very poor review, advising to just watch the final episode if you are curious as to what happens. The New York Times and IGN have more mixed reviews. Adaptations of Stephen King novels do not have the greatest track record on television, as with Under The Dome.

The New York Times has a much better review for Better Call Saul, which returns for its second season tomorrow.

The latest trailer above for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which premiers on March 25th, 2016.

Syfy has renewed The Magicians for a second season.

Aniz Ansari’s Master of None has been renewed by Netflix for a second season.

House of Cards  returns to Netflix on March 4th. Trailer above.

Amazon has renewed Mozart in the Jungle for a third season. The show recently Best Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe awards and Gael Garcia Bernal won for Best Performance in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.

Bernie Sanders Comic

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are the stars of their own comics. More on the comics here.

SciFi Weekend: Legends of Tomorrow; The Flash; The 100; The Gilmore Girls Diet


We might have to wait until 2017 for another season of Doctor Who under a new show runner, but there is plenty of other time travel science fiction on television. A new time travel show, 11/22/63, begins on Hulu in about two weeks. One new time travel show, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow just recently started, and other genre shows also deal with time travel.

After seeing the completion of the second part of the season premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, I plan to stick with it but have concerns. The show had three elements. There were the superheros fighting regular people, but this was no contest. There was the fight against Vandal Savage, but he is both immortal and we know he nothing can happen to  him until the end of the series as it is all about stopping him. Then there were the time travel elements, including whether Martin Stein will meet the woman who is to become his wife, or if their travel to 1975 messed this up. Unfortunately it was far too simplistic for anyone who has seen time travel stories. At least the interactions between the cast members kept the show interesting, leaving hope for the series if they can improve upon the writing now that the setup has been established.

Plus the show could benefit by bringing in other members of the DC Universe, including some from other Berlanti television shows. Stephen Amell  will appear as the Arrow on a future episode, except it will take place in 2046:

“Every once and a while, we do an episode where the 10-year-old me has to pinch himself,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim says. “We’re not only introducing our version of Connor Hawke to our universe, we’re going to meet the 2046 version of Oliver Queen, and Stephen Amell is going to be reprising his role from Arrow. As an added bonus to comic-book fans, Oliver is missing his left arm and will be sporting a goatee, in a nod to the character’s appearance in the seminal Dark Knight Returns. We think this episode features some of the coolest things we’ve ever done.”

…Amell isn’t the only familiar face from the Berlanti-verse set to appear on Legends. Among the others: Arrow’s Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and Ra’s al Ghul (Matthew Nable), and The Flash’s Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), while there’s a very strong chance we’ll see a younger and/or older version of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) as well.

The Flash -- "The Reverse Flash Returns" -- Image FLA211b_0152b -- Pictured (L-R): Matthew Letscher as Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash, Grant Gustin as The Flash, and Amanda Pays as Christina McGee -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Flash is getting into some really timey wimey stuff, including having the Reverse Flash reappear after we saw him eliminated last season. The catch is that we are seeing a version of him earlier in his time line. Andrew Kreisberg discussed the show with Entertainment Weekly. Here is part of the interview.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How different is the dynamic between Barry and this Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) since he’s from an earlier timeline?
What’s interesting about it is this Thawne hasn’t experienced last season yet, and Barry has. On Barry’s side, there’s a lot stronger feelings — a lot more anger, a lot more betrayal, and in some cases, that’s blinding Barry to what he needs to do. It’s really an episode about Barry coming to terms with what he wants to do and what he should do regarding this version of Thawne. There are some great surprises and some character interactions between this Thawne and all of our characters. Again, they all have the benefit of having enjoyed last season and he hasn’t.

Without making my head hurt, are you going to explain how the Reverse-Flash is back given Eddie’s (Rick Cosnett) death?
Yup. [Laughs]

When Barry ran through the time stream last year, he saw himself in jail. Will that be addressed this season?
Not this season. There’s a very famous comic book, “The Trial of The Flash,” where Barry was arrested for murder. We wanted all of those little future things to have a little nod to the comics, which is why we saw The Flash museum and why we did that little bit. It wasn’t something that was consciously have planned, per se, but it was a fun way to honor the comic book. While it always goes through our filter, we do tend to take a lot of stories and ideas from the comics, and that was a way to honor the comics.

How is Barry handling losing Patty (Shantel VanSanten), and could this open up his eyes back up to Iris (Candice Patton) again?
That could definitely happen. Right now, he’s reeling a little bit. Zoom is the splinter in his foot; it’s the thing that’s out there and ruining everything for him. What’s really going to happen after Patty’s last episode, which is this week, is it’s really this need to get Zoom. Barry is still haunted by that video message that Wells [Tom Cavanagh] left, which said he’s never going to be happy. Now that he’s lost Patty, he’s decided that stopping Zoom is the only way he’s ever really going to be happy and disprove Wells/Thawne’s hypothesis.

What can you tease about the identity of Zoom and when we might learn more about him?
We’ve never played this card down on a villain before, which is neat and interesting to us. As the season progresses, more will be revealed. We obviously don’t want to give too much away, because we’ve made his identity a mystery that’s part of the ongoing storyline. We’re really jazzed about the storytelling choices that we’ve made this season. So far, the audience has gone with them, and we hope they’ll continue to do so.

NBC is going to have their own time travel show:

Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke are making Time for NBC. Literally.

The Peacock network has ordered a sci-fi drama pilot from the respective creators of The Shield and Supernatural titled Time that follows an unlikely trio who travel through (wait for it… ) time to battle a brilliant criminal intent on altering the fabric of human history with potentially catastrophic results.

The 100 Season 3

The 100 returned for its third season. So far I haven’t liked it as much as the previous two seasons, but there has been a lot of setup and I’m hoping for improvement as we get into the new story lines. The final scene of last week’s episode when Clarke met an old friend or enemy was certainly interesting. Entertainment Weekly asked creator Jason Rothenberg and actors Marie Avgeropoulos, Bob Morley, Christopher Larkin, Eliza Taylor, Devon Bostick, and Richard Harmon about the season. Here is some of what they said:

…about the time-jump

“There’s relative peace when we start, so the people are able to take a breath, explore, and map the region. They’re building a real, functioning civilization, which they haven’t had a chance to do since they landed because they’ve been getting killed every second of every day. Now they can do that. And then the s— hits the fan.” —Rothenberg

…about Ice Nation

“[They] are a bit of an unknown. They’re quite renowned for being very fierce and aggressive. [Skaikru] are really not expecting that kind of welcome that they give them.” —Morley

…about the Big Bad

“This season you have to decide who the bad guy is and what side you want to be on, because one of the things Jason [Rothenberg] is doing a great job of is putting the leads all over the map and on all different sides — fighting each other and not even knowing they’re fighting each other.” —Harmon

…about Clarke

“I think fans will be very surprised with how Clarke has changed and been hardened by and broken by what she’s had to do.” —Rothenberg

“I think everyone is just going on with their lives [without her]. There’s not a lot you can do about somebody who wants to just leave and be on their own. You can sit there and wallow in it or you can just carry on. There are bigger fish to fry really… like this thing called living.” [Laughs] —Morley

Gilmore Girls Diet

Netflix has announced that the revival of Gilmore Girls is now officially going ahead. (As set pictures have already been released, I’m not certain how this announcement really changes anything.) With Gilmore Girls coming back,Lauren Valenti of Marie Claire decided to try eating like Lorelei and Rory. That means a lot of pizza, junk food, and coffee:

A week into 2016, I had a Gilmore Girls-induced epiphany. Lorelai and Rory were scarfing down pepperoni pizza on the couch and making fun of Dean for ordering a salad because, dude, seriously? Heroes, I thought for the millionth time.

And then it occurred to me. Their complete and utter lack of hang-up about calories was the most refreshing thing I’d seen in a while—especially in the midst of all this talk about New Year’s resolutions and diets and “getting in shape.” Women inhaling junk food, take-out Chinese, and copious amounts of coffee—what a profound F U to those judgy, clean-eating freaks.

The result was that she lost two pounds.

As a physician, I cannot recommend that you try this diet at home.

SciFi Weekend: New and Returning Shows For 2016, And Other Genre News

There has been a reduced television schedule so far this year, (giving me time to watch the second seasons of Catastrophe, Mozart In the Jungle, and Tranparent), but many shows are starting or coming back soon. Blastr has a list of nine science fiction shows premiering in January. I have already discussed Legends of Tomorrow and the revival of  X-Files several times in the past. The trailer for Legends of Tomorrow,which premieres on CW on Januray 21 is above.  ScreenRant discussed Sara  Lance’s mental state on the new series with Caity Lotz.

As for the three shows I mentioned watching above, Catastrophe‘s second season was broadcast in the U.K. on Channel 4 late last year but is not availably yet on Amazon, while the second seasons of the other two shows recently became available. The first season of Catastrophe, which I ranked as the best new comedy of 2015, is available on Amazon.

Getting back to the science fiction shows premiering this month, I have heard some favorable buzz for The Shannara Chronicles which began on January 5 on MTV. Nerdist interviewed the executive producer, Miles Millar. Other shows on the list which have received the most interest so far have been The Magicians (with Syfy streaming the pilot early) and Colony (with initial reviews being better for the first). Initial buzz has been negative for Second Chance, and there are questions as to whether Lucifer can make it on a major network.

There will be many additional genre shows premiering later in the year, along with the return of other shows. What Culture has a list of original shows appearing on Netflix this year, including Daredevil, which returns on March 18 (trailer above).

Supergirl returned last week, resolving the cliff hanger of Cat figuring out her secret identity just as I predicted last Sunday.

Sherlock returned for a single episode,The Abominable Bride, on New Year’s day. Those of us expecting a self-contained story in Victorian times were surprised by what was actually done with the episode and how it actually played into last  season’s cliffhanger.

ABC has ordered a pilot for the Agents of SHIELD spinoff, Marvel’s Most Wanted. The series will center on Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood).

Among the shows I’m most interested in seeing, 11.22.63 premiers on Hulu on February 15, with new episodes being released weekly as opposed to all episodes being released at the same time as on Netflix and Amazon. (Trailer above.) There will be some changes from the Stephen King novel. More here and here, plus J.J. Abrams also addressed the controversy over the female lead in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (reviewed here) being left out of the Star Wars themed Monopoly game.

In my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens I noted how the novelization has filled in some plot holes. Mashable has more from the novelization. In addition, the script has been released which also provides further explanation of some plot points.

"YHWH" -- Finch (Michael Emerson, left) and Root (Amy Acker, right) race to save The Machine, which has been located by the rival AI, Samaritan, while Reese is caught in the middle of the final showdown between rival crime bosses Elias and Dominic, on the fourth season finale of PERSON OF INTEREST, Tuesday, May 5 (10:01-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2015 WBEI. All rights reserved.

J.J. Abrams also says that Person of Interest will probably end after this season, which is no surprise considering how it is receiving a reduced thirteen episode run and has not made the schedule for this season yet. As long as it ends well this season, that is fine with me. The show gradually changed over time from primarily a procedural show to a true science fiction show, and it is better to have it end well as a great genre show as opposed to continuing indefinitely as a typical CBS procedural.

Like Person of Interest reinvented itself this year, Blacklist has also been considerably different from how it began. It was also off to an excellent start in this week’s episode. Unfortunately I don’t know  how much longer they can continue this storyline for.

The trailer above shows how the second season of Outlander will be much different from the first when it returns in April.

While not genre, another show of interest, Love, from Judd Apatow and staring Gillian Jacobs of Community will be released by Netflix on February 19.

HBO has renewed Girls for a sixth and final season. The fifth season begins on February 21.

Sundance has renewed Rectify for a fourth and final season.

Better Call Saul returns for its second season on February 15. Trailer above.

12 Monkeys will return on April 18 on Syfy.

Besides all the speculation as to the fate of Felicity, there have been rumors that Stephen Amell would leave Arrow, presumably ending the series, in the next year or two. Amell responded by saying his contract runs through 2019 (which doesn’t guarantee that CW will continue the show that long).

Laura Dern has been added to the cast of Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks. While her role has not been announced, there have been rumors that she might play Special Agent Dale Cooper’s previously unseen secretary, Diane. The cast also includes Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn,  Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Knepper, Balthazar Getty and Amanda Seyfried. The first three were from the original cast.

Coal Hill School

Class, the Doctor Who spinoff from BBC Three taking place at Coal Hill School, will also be available on BBC America sometime in 2016, but no date has been set yet.

Doctor Who has made the short list for the National Television Awards in the Drama category. It is up against Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, and a show I am not familiar with named Casualty. Humans is among the nominees for New Drama. Downton Abbey has completed its run in the U.K. (doing a good job of concluding the series) and has resumed in the United States.

BBC America is also working on a new television adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently series.

There is now hope that Parenthood will return in some form, with Jason Katims being inspired by the movie Boyhood to return to the lives of the major characters over time. (Review of the finale here). It is interesting that two of the shows which might return in such a manner both star Lauren Graham, with a revival of Gilmore Girls now being filmed. Katims made it sound unlikely that the rumored follow up of his other show, Friday Night Lights, will return.

Yahoo Screen has been discontinued, making it even less likely that Community will ever return.

Sylvester Stallone discussed running for office and Donald Trump with Variety.

Update: News came in overnight that David Bowie died of cancer. The New York Times reports:

David Bowie, the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personas, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Mr. Bowie’s death was confirmed by his publicist, Steve Martin, on Monday morning.

He died after having cancer for 18 months, according to a statement on Mr. Bowie’s social-media accounts.

“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family,” a post on his Facebook page read.

His last album, “Blackstar,” a collaboration with a jazz quartet that was typically enigmatic and exploratory, was released on Friday — his birthday. He was to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31 featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper and the Mountain Goats.

Following is a video of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station in 2014:

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Legends of Tomorrow; Jessica Jones; Luke Cage; The Man In The High Castle; The Expanse; Childhood’s End; 11.22.63; Minority Report; House of Cards; Fargo; Doctor Who; Ted Cruz Christmas Infomercial

Arrow -- "The Magician" -- Image AR304a_0155b -- Pictured (L-R): Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Ed Araquel/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Nable will be reprising his role of Ra’s al Ghul from Arrow in the ninth episode of Legends of Tomorrow. Considering that much of the cast is made up of people who either died or appeared to die on Arrow, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Damian Dark will also be making an appearance on Legends of Tomorrow. On Arrow, Nyssa will also continue to fight Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) for her dead father’s title.

I really liked Daredevil, and liked what they did with Jessica Jones even more. Jessica Jones also has me looking forward to Luke Cage. Collider had an interview with Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage. The discussion included how Luke Cage will differ from Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

Man In The High Castle

I was happy to hear that Amazon has renewed The Man In The High Castle, as expected, for a second season. The entire series was enjoyable, but that ending has me really wondering where the show is headed. I read the book many, many years ago and don’t remember how it ended. Plus there are already major changes from the book so that might not matter.

I’ve  been far too busy around the holidays to keep up with everything on television. I thought I was doing well completing both Jessica Jones and The Man In The High Castle. (My original plan was to review these two series this week, but holiday plans have prevented it.) I haven’t had time to start The Expanse, but I hear that if some time opens up it is possible to stream the first four episodes, and get ahead of what has been shown on television.

I have recorded Childhood’s End with hopes of watching it sometime later over the holidays. Meanwhile this article, which I haven’t read to avoid spoilers, looks like the type of article with a show’s producer on the ending which I would be quoting from if I had seen the show.

Yet another new genre show I haven’t had time to watch–The Magicians. IO9 has a review here.

Hulu is releasing teaser trailers of 11.22.63, produced by J.J. Abrams and based upon the Stephen King novel. Abrams also has something else major out this weekend.

I also haven’t had a chance to watch the movie version of The Martian yet, but did enjoy the book last year. Nerdist has news on Andy Weir’s next book, to take place on the moon and feature a female lead.

With so much to watch on television, I didn’t watch Minority Report after some poor reviews of the first episode, followed by news that production was cut to ten episodes. The final episode aired recently and I have heard some buzz that the series ended well. This is a positive sign of how television has changed. In the past a network needed at least a few years of a series to make money in syndication. If it looked weak after a few episodes, they would be tempted to just pull the plug.

These days a series can still bring in episodes with even a short run. By giving the producers a cut off date, they were able to make a series which stood on its own with ten episodes, or expand into subsequent seasons if it did build an audience. It is still possible to sell a self-contained ten episode series as a Blu ray or DVD set, as well as have it on one or more streaming networks. The networks have reason to continue a show with a small audience for at least a short time, current viewers get a conclusion as opposed to having a show they like abruptly pulled, and genre fans have one more thing available to watch when desired in the future. Plus maybe a show will even be brought back by another outlet.

Netflix ran the trailer for the fourth season of House of Cards during last week’s Republican debate. The show returns on March 4. “America, I am only getting started” sounds sort of scary.

The third season of Fargo won’t be filming until next winter, and therefore won’t be seen until sometime in 2017. It will take place in 2010, four years after the first season. We got an unexpected view of some of the characters from the first season in the second season finale, but reportedly the regulars from the first season will not be the major characters for the third season. Some could appear briefly.

Doctor Who TV has an advance review of this year’s Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song.

ABC will be airing a one hour special, Captain America’s 75th Anniversary, on January 19th, just prior to the season premiere of Agent Carter. It will be opposite the return of The Flash on CW, but that is why we have Hulu, and modern DVR’s which record more than one show at a time.

Vox looks at Tina Fey’s response to some of the internet outrage over Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for having  the blonde, Polish actress Jane Krakowski playeding a Native American woman who was hiding her true ethnicity.

Ted Cruz has paid for a Christmas-themed parody infomercial to air during Saturday Night Live tonight. Steve M. has a review, and finds Cruz to be scary. I agree.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Face the Raven; Jessica Jones; Arrow Flash Crossover; 11/22/63; Lost In Space; New Show From Bays and Thomas

Doctor Who Face the Raven

Only four companions had previously died in the long history of Doctor Who, with none in the new series. This changed on Face the Raven with the death of Clara Oswald.  The episode took place on Trap Street, a hidden street in London like something out of Harry Potter, except in this case Maise Williams’ immortal character returned as mayor, providing sanctuary for aliens. Clara’s friend Rigsy (previously seen in Flatline, when Clara was acting as the Doctor) was sentenced to die, with a Chronolock tattooed on his neck, counting down the minutes until his death. The Doctor tried, unsuccessfully, to turn to his index cards to express his condolences, but Clara pushed him to try to save him.

Unfortunately it turned out to be Clara who saved him by transferring the Chronolock from Rigsy to herself. Maise Williams’ character, Me,  had already guaranteed Clara’s safety on Trap Street, so she thought this would buy them time. What Clara did not know is that Me never really intended for Rigsy to die. However, once the Chronlock was transferred from Rigsy to Clara, the terms of Me’s deal with the quantum shade, which controlled the execution, were changed and Me could not save her.

Clara assumed the Doctor could save her once again, but he could not, and the two said their dramatic farewells. It did seem  questionable that the Doctor couldn’t at least try to save her. After all, it was already established that there was a stasis machine nearby. If that couldn’t work, there was also a teleport bracelet, not to mention the TARDIS, which might take Clara to safety.

Clara’s death was actually guaranteed by the decision for Jenna Coleman to leave the series. Steven Moffat discussed writing Clara out in an interview with Blogtor Who:

“What we’re gonna do with Clara’s departure was ‘Plan A’. This is what I wanted to with Clara from very, very early on in Clara’s run but Jenna said that she wanted to leave at the end of Series 8. And I sort of knew she didn’t really want to leave, I think she just felt she ought to leave at the end of Series 8, despite my various attempts to tell her what she was thinking – which never goes down well I find with human beings! [Laughs]

She decided to leave so I wrote her out of the end of Death In Heaven, that was her last episode. I was halfway through Christmas [Last Christmas] without Jenna and she said, ‘Actually, I’d like to be in Christmas,’ so I discreetly threw away the script I was writing and started again. [Laughs] Never told her that – should’ve.

I wrote her out of the end of Christmas but this time I sniffed a wind and wrote two endings; one version where she actually is the old lady and we last see her going up the spiral staircase. At the read through we did the big heart-rending departure and she changed her mind.

Peter and I did perform every form of emotional manipulation known to people on the world tour, badly and ineptly I might add. I like to think in the sheer ineptitude of out apparent subterfuge we were charming.

But what we’re doing now is the right way for her to go, in my view.”

Doctor Who Face The Raven Clara

There might theoretically be a way in which Clara did not die and could return for some of the final episodes of the season, but now that Jenna Coleman had her big exit scene it would be better to leave her character dead. That does not mean that Jenna Coleman might not show up again. A form of Clara has been involved with all Doctors we have seen so far, and the way in which she was fragmented should mean that she will also be involved with future Doctors, although that does not mean that either the Doctor or the audience will see her

The Doctor has met Clara in different forms. He met Oswin Oswald, the soufflé girl, in Asylum of the Daleks, and met the Victorian barmaid and governess Clara Oswin Oswald  in The Snowmen.  He also came close to meeting Clara as a child but did not recognize her.

There are still questions left from Face the Raven. The Doctor was teleported off, and is on his own, leading into the final episodes of the season (which will be extended length). Will he return to face Me, after warning her “You’ll find that it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you”? Who was Me working with? It was apparently someone who knew about the Confession Dial, which might mean Davros, or Missy. Incidentally, it was Missy who put Clara in touch with the Doctor in The Bells of St. John, so it might be fitting that she was also indirectly involved in her death. (Incidentally Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy, also appeared on Gotham last week).

The portion of the season prior to the Christmas episode will end with another two-parter. Heaven Sent will air on November 28th and run fifty-five minutes.  Hell Bent will air on December 5th and run sixty-five minutes.

Behind the scenes videos of Face the Raven can be seen here.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

It was a tough decision with both Jessica Jones and The Man in The High Castle both becoming available for streaming on Friday night. Ultimately a show staring Krystin Ritter, David Tennant, and Carrie-Ann Moss won out. In addition to these three, Rachel Taylor does an excellent job as  Trish Walker and Mike Colter is excellent as Luke Cage. Besides appearing in Jessica Jones prior to appearing in his own show, Luke Cage has been teased in a trailer for the second season of Daredevil.

While I have not finished the series yet, I have seen enough to say that this is excellent. It is possibly the best superhero show ever on television, and possibly the best television show or movie with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vulture has a collection of excerpts from the many excellent reviews of the series. I will have no spoilers of the individual episodes in discussing the series.

Jessica Jones has started out even stronger than Daredevil. While set in the same Hell’s Kitchen background, it is not entirely as dark and gritty, with more of New York City seen. There are brief mentions of other events in the Marvel universe, but it is not necessary to have seen any as long as you are just aware that New York City was under attack in The Avengers movie.

Krystin Ritter is excellent as the damaged superhero. She plays a strong female lead, but the tone of the show is entirely different from the other superhero series with a female lead, Supergirl. Ritter’s dramatic acting abilities were clear in Breaking Bad, and she showed she could handle being the lead for a show in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. She further shows her acting talent as the lead in this complex dramatic role in which her character underwent a traumatic experience in the past, leading to the season-long arc with the big-bad Killgrave, played by David Tennant.

Jessica Jones Trish Walker

Krystin Ritter discussed playing Jessica Jones at Speakeasy:

Unlike a lot of superhero shows, she doesn’t seem to rely on her superpowers that often.

That’s how I always approach the character. Just a woman and a girl first, with her feet on the ground and with real issues. Her struggle is so personal and so relatable and so grounded. I just focused on that and the superpower thing second. I just felt like it was an extension of who she is – because internally, she’s so strong.

What unique issues are being explored in “Jessica Jones”?

I felt like it was groundbreaking material in how it handles some of the darker stuff that happens to her. We never actually see, literally, [her] history with [villain] Kilgrave. But we see the effects of it. Ultimately, this is a story about coming to terms with something internally with yourself. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t sexualized. She’s never putting on high heels and the tight skirt to seduce somebody like your typical P.I. So there were all these things in there that felt a lot bigger. I felt like it was a great conversation starter. It has the potential to be an iconic character.

The Los Angeles Times spoke with Kristin Ritter and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, who was also head writer on early seasons of Dexter:

“[For Jessica] the superpowers are just a matter of fact. She doesn’t advertise them, but she doesn’t deny them. She doesn’t hide them,” show runner Melissa Rosenberg explains. “What I love about this character is she’s so unapologetically who she is. She’s unapologetic about her sexuality, about her powers, about her drinking, about just about anything. She is who she is.”

Her sexuality, and drinking, along with other aspects of Jessica Jones, are certainly not hidden. While there is no nudity, this is not a superhero series for children.

I have also been bookmarking material on The Man In The High Castle but will wait until I have hopefully had time to start the series.

An extended promo has been released for this season’s crossover episodes of The Flash and Arrow, starting December  1 (video above).

The season finale of The Flash is part of the crossover event with Arrow and introduces Wally West. There has been speculation this season that when Iris’s mother turned up and there was mention of another child, this would be Wally West. The following synopsis has been released.

“Running to Stand Still” — MARK HAMILL, WENTWORTH MILLER AND LIAM MCINTYRE RETURN; KEIYNAN LONSDALE JOINS THE CAST AS WALLY WEST — When Mark Mardon AKA The Weather Wizard (guest star Liam McIntyre) returns to break Leonard Snart AKA Captain Cold (guest star Wentworth Miller) and James Jesse AKA The Trickster (guest star Mark Hamill) out of Iron Heights, Barry (Grant Gustin) must stop these rogues from taking over Central City during Christmas. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) meet Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). Kevin Tancharoen directed the episode written by Andrew Kreisberg (#209). Original airdate 12/8/2015.

We have already seen the first glimpses of Hawkgirl on The Flash, as the various characters for Legends of Tomorrow have been put place on Arrow and The Flash. Legends of Tomorrow will debut on Thursday, January 21. In addition to bringing back old characters on Arrow in preparation for this, Roy will be returning to Arrow in episode 412.

The above teaser has been released from 11/22/63 from J.J. Abrams, based upon the book by Stephen King. It is to be released on Hulu on Presidents Day, 2016.

Danger Will Robinson: Netflix is planning a reboot of Lost in Space.

CBS has signed a deal with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to produce another comedy set in New York. Deadline reports that the show, named New York Mythological, “centers on a Midwestern girl who moves to Manhattan and experiences firsthand the magic of New York.” It sound like quite a few other shows done over the years but it is the execution which matters. There have also been a lot of shows about friends in New York City, but few did them as well as Bays and Thomas did with How I Met Your Mother.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; You’re The Worst Renewed; Dallas Cancelled; Twin Peaks May Return; Marvel News; Arrow; Homeland; Community; Another Stephen King Novel To Television; Outlander; Short Skirts And Invented Languages In Genre

Doctor Who Kill The Moon

Kill the Moon could be seen both as one of many totally implausible and scientifically absurd episodes of Doctor Who along with another high concept episode with a major role in the series. Even if we accept that the moon could really be a giant egg, it makes no sense for the development of the space dragon to also lead to giving the moon more gravity. Doctor Who also has a strange cell phone technology on several episodes where cell phones seem to be connected to the time and place of their origin, in this case allowing Courtney to post to her Tumblr account (which has died out by 2049).

If you ignore its absurdity, which Doctor Who fans are accustomed to doing, the show does fill in a gap in the future history of mankind as presented on the show. The present earth of Doctor Who sees aliens as monsters and invaders. The far future has been shown with humans spread throughout space. At the time of this episode, mankind has given up on space exploration and even needed to restore an old museum shuttle to return to the moon. Thanks to Clara ignoring the input from humans at the time, earth was able to see space as a wonder and not threatening, encouraging mankind to start to look outwards.

The episode even answered the question raised during the episode of how the moon could be destroyed when they knew it was present in the  future. Now I’m wondering how the moon remained attached to the earth when the earth was dragged to elsewhere in the universe in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.


The episode was originally written for Matt Smith, and must have had major rewrites in order to fit in so well with the story of the current Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi. The decision to go to the moon came about because the Capaldi Doctor couldn’t bring himself to tell Courtney that in some way she is special without actually making this true. The episode ended with Clara rejecting the Doctor, making me wonder if this is part of a planned arc. It certainly fits in with the personality changes in the Doctor since his last regeneration.

This might set up next week’s episode to be one without Clara, or show further advancement in their relationship. The entire lineup of companions is now in question. Danny Pink kept the possibility that Clara isn’t really done with the Doctor alive. Last summer we were teased with the idea of another couple in the TARDIS but Danny has yet to actually travel the the Doctor. Courtney has even beaten Danny in traveling in the TARDIS. If his relationship does not go further, I imagine it is debatable as to whether to consider Danny a (limited) companion. He is certainly involved with a continuing character, he is aware of what the Doctor is, and even did work with the Doctor at defeating an alien (after first messing up his plans) in The Caretaker.

Other continuity issues were touched upon. The doctor claimed he could regenerate forever. Did he really obtain an infinite number of lives, or is the Doctor who could not tell a white lie at the start of the episode now telling a lie? Was he lying when telling Courtney she would be the first woman on the moon? Polly traveled to the moon with the second Doctor in 1966 in Moonbase but it was set in 2070 while Courtney, from 2014, traveled to the moon of 2049. The Doctor could have been lying, could be using a timey wimey technicality, or could have just forgotten. At least he did remember his old catch phrase, “When I say run, run.”

There was not a scene with Missy and any of the astronauts who got killed during this episode.

The Doctor Who Extra video is above.

In other Doctor Who news, filming for the season concluded on October 3 with completion of the Christmas episode.

The best television news of the week is that You’re The Worst has been renewed. It is being moved to FXX and will be expanded to thirteen episodes. Married, which was paired with You’re The Worst, was also renewed and will remain on FX. The renewal and increase in number of episodes of You’re The Worst is no surprise considering the strong critical reaction to the show as people discovered it over the summer. If you haven’t seen it, the show is highly recommended. It would be easy to bing on as with only ten episodes the entire series only around three and a half hours after commercials are cut.

With all the late spring and summer television shows, there are probably several which we haven’t heard news on regarding renewals. In my opinion, the only one which we haven’t received word on yet which really matters is Continuum. Besides wanting to see this for several years to come, they just cannot end the show where it ended. In terms of ending a show with an unexplored change in the final episode, this would be reminiscent to the ending of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

As for shows I don’t care as much about, TNT has canceled their reboot of Dallas. Now we will never find out if Christopher Ewing, who died in the finale, will reappear in Elena’s shower, or if Nicolas is really the father of her baby.

Twin Peaks ended with Special Agent Dale Cooper disappearing for twenty-five years, and now that it is time for him to reappear there are rumors that the show might return. Update:  It was announced Monday that it is coming back as a limited series on Showtime.


Collider has information on X-Men: Apocalypse which opens in 2016 and concludes the current trilogy. The relationship between Mystique and Beast plays a large role in the movie:

Part of what’s really interesting about Mystique’s character is that she is, in some ways, the child of both Erik and Charles. She grew up with Charles and then she sort of became a woman with Erik, so her being the cross-pollination, if you will, of those two philosophies and those two men is something we can explore in the movie too.

Perhaps Mystique/Jennifer Lawrence will go after whoever  spread the  nude photos of her, without the body paint, around the Internet.

If you are having difficulty keeping track of all the mutants in the X-Men movies, Screen Rant has a guide.

Robert Downey, Jr. has said he will not appear in another Iron Man movie, but now says that Mel Gibson deserves another chance and would do so if Gibson directs it.

Adrianne Palacki, who will be playing Mockingbird on Agents of SHIELD, has said her character might also wind up appearing in a future Avengers movie.

It appears that the Fantastic Four comic might be canceled prior to the release of the upcoming Fantastic Four movie reboot. If true, this comes from the manner in which different Marvel Studios/Disney only have the movie rights to some of the Marvel characters. Other studies have the movie rights to characters including Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, and X-Men as long as they are using the characters. This is one reason for the lack of cross overs of some of the characters with The Avengers, and also why some dreadful movies have been shoved out in order for other studios to maintain their movie rights.

Arrow returns this week–clip above. With Oliver losing the business it looks like everyone has to get new jobs, but Felicity is still helping him out. More at The  Hollywood Reporter.

Homeland returns tonight. TV Guide has some information on changes in the show now that they finally got away from the Brody storyline.

Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) won’t be continuing on Community when it returns on Yahoo! due to having to care for her sick father. She will have recurring roles on th CBS reboot of The Odd Couple and on a new USA Network show, Benched. With Jonathan Banks also leaving the show due to his commitment to Better Call Saul, two new characters will be added: “One is described as a woman who’s brought in as a consultant to help shape up the school. The other is a retired salesman who comes to Greendale to reinvent himself.”

The number of outlets for original programing has sure expanded. Beyond broadcast and cable television, both Netflix and Amazon have put out multiple shows. Yahoo! becomes far more significant with the addition of Community. Now Hulu is planning a miniseries based upon Stephen King’s time travel novel on the Kennedy assassination, 11/22/63. The show will be produced by J.J. Abrams and run for nine hours. This is certainly a far better way to do a book of its length as opposed to a movie adaptation. They have left open the possibility of doing additional seasons beyond the events of the book, which I am wary of after seeing what happened with Under the Dome.

Starz won’t have to worry about running out of material for Outlander if they want to continue the series for several more years. Diana Gabaldon has  signed a multi-million dollar book deal for the ninth book in the series. Thanks to the Starz series, the first Outlander novel from twenty-three years ago has jumped to the top of the bestseller lists.

Zoe Seldana’s short skirt while playing Uhura in the Star Trek movies was not very practical, unless flashing is encouraged in the J.J. Abrams universe. She discussed this problem, and other wardrobe malfunctions.

Wired looked at science fiction worlds and languages, such as the Klingon and Dothraki languages.