SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Extremis; Agents of SHIELD Season Finale; Legends of Tomorrow; The Flash; Arrow; Star Trek Discovery; Seth MacFarlane’s Spoof, The Orville; Gotham; The Magicians; Twin Peaks

Extremis was the best episode of Doctor Who so far this season, and it is just the first part of a three part story. There was a lot of misdirection in the episode, which is part of what made it so interesting.

The episode appeared to have two different story lines, but the conclusion revealed there were actually three. There were the flashbacks to the execution and the scenes with the Doctor outside the vault. It wasn’t reveled until the end that all of the other events were actually taking place in the shadow world, their version of the Matrix.

Even the execution scene had misdirection, as it was unclear whether the Doctor was intended to be the victim or executioner. Once it finally became clear that it was Missy to be executed, things did not turn out as planned. This gave plenty of opportunity for Missy to be Missy: “Please, I’ll do anything. Let me live. Teach me how to be good. I’m your friend.” She also had some words for her captors: “Get off, I’ve just been executed. Show a little respect” and “Knock yourself out. Actually, do that. Knock yourself right out.”

I am glad that they didn’t drag out the reveal as to who is in the vault any longer as pretty much everyone probably realizes by now that it is one of the versions of the Master. The Doctor is keeping his word to watch over her body, even if he mislead Missy’s captors in not going through with executing her. His decision to spare her life is consistent with the relationship which as developed between the two.

Any episode in which the events are in some way not real is vulnerable to criticism, but I was willing to accept it here. Being only the first part of a three part story helps minimize the problem the events being in the shadow world. There is also a legitimate pay off to the situation in which the Doctor outsmarted the Monks and got out a warning by email to the “real” Doctor. Or as the Doctor in the shadow world put it, “I’m doing what everybody does when the world’s in danger. I’m calling the Doctor.”

This reveal also allowed for some other genre references. This included the second Star Trek reference in two weeks, this time with Nardole saying the shadow world is like “like the Holodeck on Star Trek, or a really posh VR without a headset.” I also liked the explanation of people seeming to commit suicide when they realized the truth: “it’s like Super Mario figuring out what’s going on, deleting himself from the game, because he’s sick of dying.” There was also a reference to Harry Potter and portions of the episode felt like they were out of a Dan Brown novel.

Besides the simulation leading to the Doctor getting the warning about the invasion, it also gave the Doctor reason to encourage Bill to ask Penny out, reassuring her that she is not out of her league, knowing how it worked in the shadow world. While it only happened in the shadow world, presumably this accurately reflected the real world with Bill’s foster mother not realizing she is a lesbian, and therefore not realizing what was going on between the two girls. This included the exchange with Bill’s foster mother telling her “I have very strict rules about men” and Bill replying, “Probably not as strict as mine.”

The shadow world also gave us scenes at the Vatican, briefly at the Pentagon, at CERN, and with a dead president. This led the Doctor to wonder, “Particle physicists and priests–What could scare them both?” Plus there was the Pope in Bill’s bedroom: “Doctor, here’s a tip. When I’m on a date, when that rare and special thing happens in my real life, do not, do not under any circumstances put the Pope in my bedroom.”

There is plenty of additional grounds to nitpick, such as questioning whether a simulation so complex could not come up with a better random number generator. I am far more willing to accept potential plot holes which come up with thinking about an episode as opposed to glaring ones which cause a distraction while watching, such as with Knock Knock.

Continuity was also handled fairly well in this episode. They might have initially had the Doctor regain his vision at the end of Oxygen, but it worked out better to extend his blindness into this episode. This could also play into the upcoming regeneration, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if he encountered the Weeping Angels while unable to see.

The episode also showed how Nardole remained with the Doctor following the events of The Husbands of River Song, with him there at River’s request to prevent the Doctor from taking extreme actions following her death. Nardole even used a passage from her diary to influence the Doctor. While not seen on camera, Steven Moffat has said that one of the stories in his mind that he will not get a chance to tell is of the Doctor having Nardole going to the library after the events of The Forest of the Dead to recover River’s diary. There are also rumors that River will be returning this season. If so, this, along with her pictures on the Doctor’s desk, provides a good set up.

Agents of SHIELD also spent a lot of time in a version of the Matrix this season before the framework was destroyed in the season finale. IGN spoke with the producers about that space cliff hanger and that new role for Coulson:

IGN: Going back to the cliffhanger, that diner scene at first very much reminded me of the shawarma scene at the end of Avengers. Was there ever version of that sequence that didn’t have the cliffhanger, in case for whatever reason you didn’t get picked up?

Bell: It’s what it is. There was not a nice quiet shawarma version of it where they go, “Oh, it’s nice to be together.” It was always supposed to be, “Oh look, we’re finally together. Oh no, something bad happens.”

IGN: Which is sort of how it always goes for these guys, right?

Bell: It is!

Whedon: Man, SHIELD is not the coziest place to work, you know? I think they have a pretty good health plan, but other than that, it’s kind of up in the air all the time.

IGN: Well I hope so. They do keep coming back from the dead or near death at all points. I am excited we’re going back to space, though! Can you say how long it’s been in the show between when the team gets taken and when we pick back up with Coulson at the end?

Whedon: [silence] We can’t say.

Bell: We acknowledge there’s a time jump…

IGN: Going back a little bit, how long have you been planning for Coulson to be the Ghost Rider — and what was Clark Gregg’s reaction to finding out that news?

Bell: To say he was happy, it would be an understatement.

Whedon: I think what he said when we told him was, “I didn’t think I could geek out more,” but he was like, “It seems I can.”

Bell: Yeah, that was what he said.

IGN: Can you clarify: did Coulson make a deal with the devil to take on the Ghost Rider identity, or will we find out a bit more of the logistics of that deal that’s alluded to soon?

Whedon: We’ll find out more about it, but I think it’s safe to say he made a deal with the Ghost Rider, or the powers behind him. We’ll see what it all means, but it didn’t come for free. It wasn’t like, “Hey bro, can I borrow that? Can I just borrow that Ghost Rider thing for a second?”

Bell: Right, like borrowing a T-shirt.

IGN: Are you leaving the door open for more Ghost Rider?

Whedon: Well, first of all, he’s not dead — not that that means anything in our world. He also has shown that he has the ability to move in and out of realms and dimensions or planets or wherever he’s going. He’s a threat to pop up at any moment. Whether or not he will, I can’t say, but he’s out there…

IGN: I want to talk a bit about Fitz and Simmons. You’ve put them through the wringer over the past couple seasons, and my working theory is it’s because Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge always deliver such fantastic performances of those traumatizing events. Considering what they’ve gone through this year, are you considering them as a couple who will remain rocks for each other, or are you still planning to throw a bunch more terrible things at them?

Whedon: First of all, it’s the nature of the world. I think even this year with the flashbacks of May and Coulson and the rules we’ve stated through many seasons, that there are rules about agents not getting together for this very reason. Your love will be tested. That’s sort of the nature of the business. I think it’s safe to say from these past two episodes that they love each other and won’t love anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to repair their relationship and all that pain in between. One would hope that they could because everybody roots for FitzSimmons and the fans do and we do. We love the two actors, and so I think that seeing them together is a reward that the audience deserves, but how that happens, we’ll have to wait and see if it does.

Bell: I think the thing is people can have the forever love, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they get to end up together. They might, but you don’t know.

Whedon: But theirs is a forever love.

The CW Network has released a synopsis for the third season of Legends of Tomorrow, including the return of Rip Hunter and establishment of the Time Bureau, after they fractured time in the season finale:

After the defeat of Eobard Thawne and his equally nefarious Legion of Doom, the Legends face a new threat created by their actions at the end of last season. In revisiting a moment in time that they had already participated in, they have essentially fractured the timeline and created anachronisms – a scattering of people, animals, and objects all across time! Our team must find a way to return all the anachronisms to their original timelines before the time stream falls apart. But before our Legends can jump back into action, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) and his newly established Time Bureau call their methods into question. With the Time Bureau effectively the new sheriffs in town, the Legends disband – until Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) discovers one of them in the middle of his well-deserved vacation in Aruba. Seeing this as an opportunity to continue their time traveling heroics, Sara (Caity Lotz) wastes no time in getting the Legends back together.  We reunite with billionaire inventor Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), the unconventional historian-turned-superhero [Nate] Heywood (Nick Zano), and Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), who together form the meta-human Firestorm. Once reunited, the Legends will challenge the Time Bureau’s authority over the timeline and insist that however messy their methods may be, some problems are beyond the Bureau’s capabilities. Some problems can only be fixed by Legends.

Last week’s episode of The Flash appeared to show that Iris did die in the scene we’ve been seeing all season. It might have been premature for The CW Network to release this synopsis of season four, which appears to have a major spoiler as to  how the season ends (not that I’m all that surprised considering how this show has involved changing timelines, not to mention the imaging tool used):

Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) lived a normal life as a perpetually tardy C.S.I. in the Central City Police Department.  Barry’s life changed forever when the S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator exploded, creating a dark-matter lightning storm that struck Barry, bestowing him with super-speed and making him the fastest man alive — The Flash.  But when Barry used his extraordinary abilities to travel back in time and save his mother’s life, he inadvertently created an alternate timeline known as Flashpoint; a phenomenon that gave birth to the villainous speed god known as Savitar, and changed the lives of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Wally West (Keiyan Lonsdale) forever.  With the help of his adoptive father, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), his lifelong best friend and love interest Iris West (Candice Patton), and his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs — Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), C.S.I Julian Albert (Tom Felton), and an Earth-19 novelist named H.R. Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) — Barry continues to protect the people of Central City from the meta-humans that threaten it.  Based on the characters from DC, THE FLASH is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “Supergirl”), Andrew Kreisberg (“Arrow,” “The Flash”), Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”) and Todd Helbing (“Black Sails”).

They have also released the synopsis of Arrow season six:

After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the North China Sea.  He returned home to Star City, bent on righting the wrongs done by his family and fighting injustice.  As the Green Arrow, he protects his city with the help of former soldier John Diggle (David Ramsey), computer-science expert Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), his vigilante-trained sister Thea Queen (Willa Holland), Deputy Mayor Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), brilliant inventor Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum), and his new recruits, street-savvy Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) and meta-human Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy).  Oliver has finally solidified and strengthened his crime-fighting team only to have it threatened when unexpected enemies from his past return to Star City, forcing Oliver to rethink his relationship with each member of his “family”.  Based on the characters from DC, ARROW is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“The Flash,” “Supergirl”), Marc Guggenheim (“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “Eli Stone”), Wendy Mericle (“Desperate Housewives,” “Eli Stone”), Andrew Kreisberg (“The Flash,” “Eli Stone,” “Warehouse 13”) and Sarah Schechter (“The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”).

CBS has released the above trailer for Star Trek Discovery, which is to premiere this fall. Breakdown at TrekMovie. com and at Cult Movie News. Producer Ted Sullivan has reassured fans that it is definitely a prequel to TOS, and not a reboot or re-imagining.

The trailer for Seth MacFarlane’s spoof of Star Trek for Fox The Orville, is far more amusing.

Bruce Wayne’s transition to become Batman finally starts in season four of Gotham.

Trevor Einhorn (Josh) and Brittany Curran (Fen) have been promoted to regulars for the third season of The Magicians.

Twin Peaks returns tonight. The New York Times has a guide to where everyone was left after the original series. There’s another guide at Vulture.

Netflix has confirmed a fifth season of Arrested Development.

A revival of How I Met Your Mother in some form also continues to look possible.

SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD; Suicide Squad; Star Trek; Gotham; Stranger Things; Doctor Who

SHIELD Daisy season 4

Agents of SHIELD concluded the third season with a jump ahead showing that someone other than Coulson will be Director of SHIELD. Marvel has revealed that Jason O’Mara will play the Director. While vague, the release did say that he will be “playing a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s.” The synopsis for the upcoming season explains the reason for the change, as well as the changes in the role of some of the other characters:

In light of the Sokovia Accords, and with Hydra obliterated, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been legitimatized again and no longer needs to operate in the shadows. Since the world presumes that Coulson is dead, the organization needed a new Director (Jason O’Mara) to be the face of the organization.

Coulson finds himself back in the role as an agent and teamed with Mack (Henry Simmons), and together they are tasked with tracking down and confirming the presence of Enhanced people, aka Inhumans. They have been trying to track down and capture Daisy (Chloe Bennet), aka Quake, who has gone rogue in an attempt to atone for sins from the past. But with the world believing that Daisy is a dangerous outlaw who has taken down banks and bridges, the new Director has no qualms about taking her down for good.

Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) is tasked with training specialist strike teams, and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) have taken a big step forward in their relationship. But with Simmons’ new promotion as Special Advisor to the Director in Science and Technology, Fitz, as well as her former team members, finds it hard to confide in or trust her since she’s now the Director’s confidant.

Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) will roar into the lives of Agent Coulson and the team as a junkyard mechanic who can turn on a dime into the terrifying Ghost Rider. Will Robbie be a friend or foe to S.H.I.E.L.D. – as well as the world, itself? Meanwhile, Fitz discovers that socially awkward genius and friend Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) has started putting the finishing touches on a new, secret invention.

Chloe Bennet talked with TVLine about Daisy going rogue and her agenda.

In other news about Agents of SHIELD, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said at the Television Critics Association press tour that Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood could possibly return. As I noted last week, the return as a regular would be complicated by Palicki being cast in another role.

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Suicide Squad has opened to a large box office but has received very poor reviews. It does sound like studio interference played a role in any problems the movie has. The Hollywood Reporter‘s account begins:

“Better late than never.” That was one Warner Bros. executive’s reaction to the excitement at Suicide Squad‘s splashy Aug. 1 premiere in New York. Tracking indicates the film could open to more than $140 million domestically and potentially hand the studio its first unequivocal megahit since American Sniper‘s $547.4 million in December 2014. With March’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice grossing $873 million worldwide but failing to impress audiences or reach the hoped-for $1 billion mark, Warners still urgently needs to jump-start its critical DC Comics universe, raising the stakes for Suicide Squad, which cost at least $175 million to make.

Yet if the villain team-up ultimately works — and it has drawn some harsh early reviews  — it will be in spite of the kind of behind-the-scenes drama that is becoming typical for giant franchise movies that now are the main focus of the studio business: a production schedule engineered to meet an ambitious release date; a director, David Ayer (Fury), untested in making tentpole movies; and studio executives, brimming with anxiety, who are ready to intercede forcefully as they attempt to protect a branded asset. Often, efforts to fix perceived problems ratchet up costs, which drive anxiety ever higher. In extreme cases, such as Fox’s troubled Fantastic Four, the intervention is so aggressive that it becomes unclear what it means to be the director. (In each such case, studios are careful to stress that the credited director is on-scene and in charge, which is essential to avoid DGA issues. And the wise director plays along.)

The video above is a tribute to Star Trek with clips from ever show and movie.

Star Trek Into Darkness ended with Carol Marcus appearing to be a new crew member but she was not seen in Star Trek Beyond. Simon Pegg, who c0-wrote the movie responded to questions about this by explaining they didn’t have a role for her which made fit into this movie and,“We thought rather than have Carol Marcus be not used to a reasonable capacity, let’s just not include her, have her be alive, in canon, and be ready to come back at any time.” As Star Trek Beyond took place three years later, it is quite plausible that she spent some time as a part of the Enterprise crew and then either left or was not present for some other reason in Star Trek Into Darkness.Nerdophiles has information from the cast on the third season of Gotham.

Stranger Things

I’m sure that by now pretty much everyone has heard the hype about Stranger Things. It deserves all the hype, and more. Some compare it to E.T. and to Super 8. It is very rare to see a television show which is as immediately captivating as Stranger Things. The show brings three television series to my mind with their ability to also do this: Twin Peaks, Lost, and The X-Files. One other thing that all three have in common is that they went downhill. The mythology on Lost and X-Files got too convoluted, and they didn’t know where to go beyond the initial story on Twin Peaks.

The format on Netflix should reduce the risk of the show deteriorating over time. Eight episodes allowed them to tell a complete story, while leaving some things open for future seasons. There was no need for filler episodes, and there won’t be the same push as on network television to continue too long. Matt and Ross Duffer have hinted at a second season and it would be quite a shock if Netflix didn’t go with it.

The BBC has a round up of news since series ten of Doctor Who went into production here. More pictures at DoctorWhoTV.

I’ll conclude with commentary on this year’s election from The IT Crowd:

IT Crowd

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Beyond & Star Trek Discovery; Sherlock & Doctor Who News; Adrianne Palacki Cast On Seth MacFarlane SF Show; Gilmore Girls Trailer; Sense8

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond is the third installment since J.J. Abrams took over Star Trek. Like the first two movies, it is fun to watch, and in this one there is more of an effort (only partially successful) to make this movie actually be Star Trek. There will be some spoilers here, but not to the point of giving away anything which isn’t becoming obvious in the first half of the movie.

The movie has a lot of action, but also makes an effort to get a feel for the characters early in the movie. The Enterprise is now on the third year of its mission in deep space which began at the end of Star Trek Into Darkness. This work mean that, although James Kirk took over the Enterprise at an earlier point in his life, that they have been in deep space for approximately as long as the crew on the original show. (The original series ended in its third season, but they had already been on their five year mission for some time when the show began). In this universe, we also know that they have encountered Tribbles and Khan earlier.

Whatever they have experienced, Kirk now feels that “things have started to feel episodic” and is contemplating a desk job. It should be no spoiler to say that he doesn’t go through with it. There was a reference to the original when he complained that his shirt got torn on an away mission. There was also time for Kirk and the rest of the crew to take  break when they traveled to a space station. Again, it should be no spoiler that something happened there which pulled the Enterprise into an adventure.

Before going off to fight another villain, and meet another memorable character, Spock also had to deal with both romantic problems with Uhura and learning of the death of Ambassador Spock, his future self from the origianl Star Trek universe. That is obviously an homage to the death of Leonard Nimoy. The ending of the movie also had a tribute to the death of Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov. While a fourth movie has already been approved, a decision has been made to not replace Yelchin. Chris Hemsworth will reprise his role as Kirk’s father in the fourth movie, despite having died in the first movie. No word whether that will involve time travel, a revelation that he somehow survived, or some other means.

Spock contemplated leaving Star Fleet to continue Ambassador Spock’s work and his people following the destruction of Vulcan. This provided no more drama than Kirk contemplating taking a desk job. While at this star base we also learned that a ship even bigger and more powerful than the Enterprise was being built. Do I need to label it a spoiler to say that this guaranteed the repeat of what didn’t occur to the Enterprise in the prime universe until its third movie?

While no longer directed by J.J. Abrams, his influence was seen. I have some of the same nit picks as I did with Star Trek Into Darkness. Everything must be bigger, including getting yet a bigger and better version of the Enterprise and the incredible size of the space station out in deep space (which seemed partially modeled on Epcot). Once again, distance did not seem to matter. The Enterprise has gone where no one has gone before, but is not far from a station of this magnitude, and right around the corner from an almost unexplored nebula.

The most important thing about the Star Trek movies is that they have kept Star Trek around in some form. Star Trek has always worked better as a television show than movie series, and it will return to television early in 2017. Bryan Fuller announced at Comic Con that the next series will be named Star Trek Discovery, (referred to as DSC rather than the initials STD). The series will premiere on CBS television but subsequently be shown on CBS All Access, a paid streaming service. Episodes will also be available internationally on Netflix within twenty-hours making me wonder if it will be accessible in the US if using a VPN. With such limited availability, I bet it will also be heavily pirated.

Star Trek Discovery will tell a single story in thirteen chapters, with episodes released weekly. The series will take place in the prime timeline, but it has not been announced when. There has been speculation that the registry number of NCC-1031 for the Starship Discovery suggests it could take place before the original show, but that is far from definitive.

The above trailer for Sherlock season 4 was presented at San Diego Comic Con.

That naturally leads to recent news related to that other show run by Steven Moffat. Moffat predicts that Peter Capaldi will be remaining with the show after he leaves as show runner in 2017.

Karen Gillan has been cast as the female lead in All Creatures Here Below, an indie drama written by and starring David Dastmalchian. (I just thought of Amy Pond earlier today when I was walking by a house with a small angel on its lawn. I did not blink).

Jenna Coleman will be playing Queen Victoria for ITV. She has not ruled out returning to Doctor Who some day, but told Collider she will probably not return “for a good while”  if she ever does.

Adrianne-Palicki

Adrianne Palacki has been cast in Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming show for Fox:

Set 300 years in the future, the untitled show — MacFarlane’s first live-action TV series — follows the adventures of the Orville, a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship in Earth’s interstellar fleet. Facing cosmic challenges from without and within, this motley crew of space explorers will boldly go where no comedic drama has gone before.

MacFarlane plays Ed, captain of Orville. Palicki plays Kelly Grayson, Ed’s ex-wife and the newly appointed First Officer of the Orville. Grimes plays Gordon, Ed’s best friend whom he hires to pilot the Orville.

This should answer the question as to whether Palacki will return to Agents of SHIELD after ABC decided against picking up the proposed spin-0ff which she was to star in. While she was written out of SHIELD, the manner in which it was done did not make it too difficult to have her return.

The Last Ship has been renewed by TNT for a fourth season. It has taken a different approach for the third season, reminding me of previous post-apocalyptic shows such as Jericho and Revolution. It is like rebuilding society in Revolution, with a recent plague being far more plausible than the loss of electricity on Revolution.

There is no question I will be binging on Gilmore Girls Thanksgiving weekend until I hear the four final words which Amy Sherman-Palladino has always planned to end the series with. She had hoped to have the show released in individual episodes to avoid spoiling the ending, but Netflix insisted on releasing all four episodes on November 25. I can’t think of any better place than Stars Hollow to spend Thanksgiving weekend. Trailer above. John Oliver did respond to Lorelei’s question while appearing on Stephen Colbert’s show:

Then on Christmas we can get more of Sense8 as opposed to watching it for the eighth time. ONTD has these items from the J. Michael Straczynsk’s panel at Comic Con:

– He confirms they’re filming in more cities because the Sense8 will be meeting more Sensates and some of them might be evil.
– There’s a lot more action than in Season 1.
– They’re gonna dig a lot deeper into the company searching for Sensates.
– Kala/Wolfgang storyline evolves a lot from S1.
– He confirms Sun gets out of jail ‘but not in the way you’d expect’.
– They’re working more like a group and having more scenes together.
– Netflix revealed that most Netflix shows are re-watched once at most. Sense8’s rewatchability index is off the charts. People rewatch Sense8 up to 7 times in average (end to end).
– Season2 is more ‘hopeful’ about LGTB people, privacy and relationships
– Riley’s gonna be the one leading the agenda to meet more sensates and she uses her DJ concerts to do so.
– Christmas movie airs on Christmas Day and the rest of the season shortly after in 2017.

SciFi Weekend: Network Renewals and Cancellations; New Shows; John Barrowman on Doctor Who Christmas Special?; Nebula Award Winners

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Announcements came out last week regarding the fates of network shows. With most of the shows worth watching now being on cable and streaming, this news is not as major as it once was, but there is still some news which impact genre shows. A list of renewals and cancellations from all the networks can be seen here.

As discussed last week, CBS did go ahead and cancel Supergirl, but it will be continuing on the CW Network (which CBS partially owns). This does seem where it belongs anyways. CW will most likely wind up paying less for the show than what studios charge CBS. It will also save money in moving production to Vancouver. Besides the lower costs involved in filming there, they can probably save additional money by sharing costs with the other Berlantiverse shows.

The move to Vancouver might also affect the cast if not everyone agrees to go. Most likely they did make it worthwhile for Calista Flockhart to come to Vancouver periodically. With the vast majority of her scenes occurring in her office, it might be possible to have her come out to film for a few episodes at a time, and then return home. This would also make it easier to have more cross over episodes with the other Berlantiverse series, with the casts of all four shows working in Vancouver. Supergirl takes place on a different earth, but we have already seen The Flash make it to her earth, Supergirl should be able to replicate what Barry Allen did to cross over, and the Waverider on Legends of Tomorrow can travel between the multiple earths.

In other genre series on CBS, we’ve already knew that Person of Interest has been canceled, and Limitless remains on the bubble.

Yet another series in the DC universe has made it to network television. NBC has picked up Powerless. From Entertainment Weekly:

The network has given a series order to Powerless, which stars Vanessa Hudgens (Grease Live) as a “spunky young insurance adjuster specializing in regular-people coverage against damage caused by the crime-fighting superheroes.” (Think The Office meets Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. minus Marvel).

More details about the pilot storyline: “It’s when [Hudgens’ character] stands up to one of these larger-than-life figures (after an epic battle messes with her commute) that she accidentally becomes a cult ‘hero’ in her own right … even if it’s just to her group of lovably quirky co-workers. Now, while she navigates her normal, everyday life against an explosive backdrop, Emily might just discover that being a hero doesn’t always require superpowers.”

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Marvel series have not done as well as DC on network television. While Agents of SHIELD returns on ABC, ABC has both canceled Agent Carter and decided not to pick up Marvel’s Most Wanted. The good news is that, along with cancellations of Nashville and Castle, Adrianne Palicki, Connie Britton, and Nathan Fillion are all available for new shows.

ABC did pick up Conviction staring Haley Atwell. Maybe Netflix, which has been the strongest television outlet for Marvel, will also bring back Agent Carter when Atwell’s schedule permits. Before Agent Carter was canceled, there was talk of still continuing the show and work around Atwell’s schedule. A grittier version should do well on Netflix.

Fox, where many other genre shows have died too early, didn’t have the sense that ABC did in ending Castle when with the loss of a star. For reasons nobody understands, they have renewed Sleepy Hollow. In good news from the network, Fox is also renewing Gotham.

The new genre shows appear to be primarily based upon time travel next season. The trailer for Timeless from NBC is above. The TV Addict has this description of the series

Lucy is one of the most history popular professors at her university when TIMELESS begins, but her modern teaching styles don’t really appeal to the school’s tenure committee. And while she seems very unappreciated in the world of academia, Lucy is about to get a big opportunity that perfectly fits her skills.

One night, a mysterious criminal and his henchmen steal a secret state-of-the-art time machine and they’re looking to destroy the country as people know it by changing the past. Lucy is soon recruited by Homeland Security — along with soldier Wyatt and scientist Rufus — to help retrieve the machine and stop the criminal from changing the past. To do that, they’re going to use the machine’s original prototype. Their first stop is to 1937 and the site of the Hindenburg disaster.

But in addition to preventing the past from being destroyed by this criminal, they also have to make every effort not to affect the past themselves.

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Other new shows on NBC include Blacklist: Redemption. TV Line described the series:

In the new venture, undercover operative Tom Keen teams up with Susan “Scottie” Hargrave (played by Famke Janssen), “the brilliant and cunning chief of Grey Matters, a covert mercenary organization that solves problems governments don’t dare touch,” per the series’ official description.

This suggests that if Lizzie returns from the dead on The Blacklist after Megan Boone’s maternity leave is completed, she will probably not be with Tom.

Other networks are joining NBC in premiering time travel series next season, including ABC with Time After Time. This is based upon the 1979 movie about H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through time. Teaser above. Fox will have a time travel comedy, Making History. A list of the new network shows can be seen here.

John Barrowman made a statement on Facebook which has attracted a lot of attention: “I will be back in Cardiff in about a week and a half. But I’m not telling you what for…sssh!” This has led to speculation that he is returning to Doctor Who, possibly for the Christmas episode. The spin-off Class also films in Cardiff.

Nebula Awards

The Nebula Awards have been announced.  Uprooted by  Naomi Novik has won as best novel. The winner of the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Winner was Mad Max: Fury Road.

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.”

Supergirl

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: Doctor Who; Supergirl; Agents of SHIELD; Renewals; DC Movie News; Schwarzenegger Refuses To Talk About Trump

Capaldi First Image

Peter Capaldi had previously suggested he would leave Doctor Who after the upcoming season, when Chris Chibnall will replace Steven Moffat as show runner. He has now told Radio Times that he has been asked to stay on but has not made up his mind. He also states that the new companion to replace Jenna Coleman has been cast and will be named soon.

Capaldi has told Newsweek that he is not happy with how the BBC handles the series:

Perhaps, as is the fate of so many seemingly happy marriages, the BBC has taken the Doctor for granted? “Undoubtedly,” he says. “The BBC is an incredible organization, but…sometimes people there think, That’s looking after itself. And it’s not being looked after. I think maybe their eye was taken off the ball, or the show was seen as a thing they could just push around. It’s not. It’s a special thing.”

The later time slot prompted tabloid hyperbole of a “ratings crisis,” something the star admits he begrudgingly keeps tabs on. “I have to pay attention to ratings—I’d rather not—but it’s the way the business is,” he says. “I think overnight ratings are a thing of the past. You can’t really measure the success of the show by its overnight ratings, which is what the papers do. But there’s still a place for families to sit down and watch the show—that’s still a great, fun thing to do. That’s what the show’s success has been based on. That has to be protected.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (5613187u) Melissa Benoist, Calista Flockhart and Chyler Leigh 'Supergirl' TV series screening, Inside, PaleyFest 2016, Los Angeles, America - 13 Mar 2016

The cast and crew of Supergirl discussed feminism, and the upcoming Supergirl/Flash crossover episode at PaleyFest:

Much of the discussion centered on feminism, particularly on the impact of having a female superhero on television in a male-dominated field. Leigh said that’s what motivated her to take on the Alex Danvers role. “I have two girls, and right before taking this job my husband was really challenging me in the sense of like ‘think about what this opportunity is and think about what it means to you and look at our little girls and if you don’t have a resounding yes [about being on Supergirl] then you’re crazy. For little girls, there’s so much on TV that is influential especially towards the younger ages. To be a part of something that’s telling a very powerful story in many different ways from many different perspectives, especially from a women’s standpoint but also from little girl’s standpoint … is rewarding.” Added Adler, “And that’s not just confined to little girls or women. I think the most exciting thing for me is the feeling that everyone feeling the strength of Supergirl regardless of gender.”

…On why he chose The Flash to be the first comic book crossover character on Supergirl, Berlanti said: “We needed to create a way to do it. We had to introduce Superman since you’ve heard about him and you’ve heard about Supergirl, but in worlds of Arrow and Flash, they didn’t exist in that world. We introduced the multiverse in The Flash this year, and that was always our way in.” But fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a visit from the Man of Steel. “We’re so thrilled that Supergirl is our point of view,” Adler said. “We’re thrilled to continue to tell her story.”

Supergirl has been renewed for a second season.

marvels-agents-of-shield-shield

Agents of SHIELD will once again be affected by the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

After Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivered the game-changing twist that Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD from the inside, completely destroying the government organization that makes up the very core of Agents of SHIELD, the ABC Marvel drama became a completely new show in season one. Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) became Director Coulson of the real SHIELD, working in the shadows to take down the Hydra agents who betrayed them, including their former friend Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). The show was never the same after that revelation, and it was clear from both critical and fan response that the series was better for it.

With Captain America: Civil War only weeks away from its box-office bow, Agents of SHIELD is set to change yet again as a result of whatever happens in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“It will definitely have a ripple effect,” executive producer Jed Whedon says. “It is one world, so if there is a giant event, it will definitely have a ripple effect on our world.”

SHIELD Palicki and Blood

There is also more information on the spinoff being considered staring Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood:

After spawning low-rated but critical darling period drama Agent Carter, ABC’s first Marvel series is laying the groundwork for pilot Marvel’s Most Wanted. Centering on the newest additions to SHIELD, Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), the potential series would follow the two former spies and ex-spouses who are on the run with no friends, no SHIELD and a long list of enemies looking to claim a bounty on their heads.

Without any allies except each other, Bobbi and Hunter will be forced to form an uneasy alliance with Dominic Fortune (Delroy Lindo), a rogue adventurer with a wealth of resources and even more adversaries, who agrees to protect them so long as they help him with his own agenda. These two heroes will help anyone in need, all while trying to uncover the conspiracy that put their own lives in jeopardy.

They will continue to work with SHIELD this season and decisions as to Marvel’s Most Wanted and Agent Carter will probably be made in May.

Fox has renewed Gotham for a third season. In other news on the show,  Brian McManamon has been cast as  Clayface.

Person of Interest returns on May 5 with two episodes to air per week, airing on Monday and Tuesday. This is to be the final season.

Amber Herd has been cast to play Mera in the upcoming Justice League and stand-alone Aquaman movie. Both the stand-alone Aquaman movie and Flash movie will be new stories following their appearance in Justice League and will not be origin stories. Following are the planned release dates for the DC movies:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice March 25, 2016

Justice League: Part One November 17, 2017

The Flash March 16, 2018

Aquaman following July 27, 2018

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is about to take over as host of Celebrity Apprentice, walked out of an interview and refused to answer questions about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign when asked on Australia’s Weekend Sunrise. Schwarzenegger has endorsed John Kasich for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile Trump’s campaign continues like a bad reality show or movie, with more violence reported, involving his campaign manager.

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: Hannibal Finale; Defiance; Mr Robot; Humans; Agents of SHIELD; Outlander and Game of Thrones Spoilers; Galaxy Guest; Russel T Davies Doing Shakespeare; Olive Sacks Dies At 82

Hannibal-Season-3-Finale-Review-e1440932136954

The Wrath of the Lamb, the series finale for Hannibal on NBC, contained a lot of material to provide a satisfactory ending should this be the last we see of these versions of the Hannibal Lecter characters. First there was the dramatic sequence in which Francis Dolarhyde pretended to kill himself, which certainly would have been an unsatisfactory ending if it was real. This led to something we have seen various versions of throughout the series–a plan to capture a serial killer which was doomed to fail.

The episode did finally end with the probable death of Dolarhyde, but the Red Dragon arc as part of the entire series was more about the transformation of Will Graham than it was about Dolarhyde’s transformation into the Red Dragon, or his ultimate fate. The series also provided a sense of closure for Alana and for Chilton should this be the last we see of these characters.

The climax of the episode took place in Hannibal’s home on a cliff where he previously kept some of his victims. Yes, an actual cliff was involved in the series cliff hanger, or at least ambiguous scenes. The scenes there primarily involved Hannibal and Will, until interrupted by Dolarhyde and culminating in as many as three deaths. There are a couple of questions raised by the cliff scene, perhaps foreshadowed by Hannibal’s admission, “My compassion towards you is inconvenient.”

The first question is what was on Will’s mind. Most likely he knew he was becoming a monster like Hannibal, unable to simply return to his new family, and saw the death of both of them to be the best outcome. It remains uncertain as to their actual fate. If watching this episode alone, the assumption would be that they died, but we know much more. We know that the previous season also ended with the apparent deaths of characters who survived. It was not known at the time the episode was written that this would be the series finale, and Bryan Fuller is still trying to keep the show alive in some form. Fans would be no more surprised to see Hannibal and Will survive the fall than they were that Sherlock survived his fall, or that Moriarty might still be alive. We also know from the novels that Hannibal did not die then, but Fuller has already changed elements of the novel so this in itself does not provide an answer.

Then there was that post-credits scene with Bedelia,  foreshadowed both by earlier events of the season and possibly by a comment earlier in the episode that “Meat’s back on the menu.”  Was she off screen the entire time, waiting for Hannibal to return to attempt start eating her? Is the third chair set for Will, who is now a willing party to Hannibal’s cannibalism? Or does the scene take place in the future, indicating that Hannibal, and perhaps Will, survived?

Fortunately after I started to wonder about these questions Bryan Fuller gave several interviews. While he does not completely answer all of these questions, there is major insight into the season finale and the questions raised.

Hannibal Finale Cliff

Bryan Fuller’s interview at TV Guide has more on the relationship between Hannibal and Will which led to that climatic scene:

Hannibal is usually the smartest person in the room. He guessed Will had sold him out to Dolarhyde, so did he not suspect Will might push them off the cliff?
I think he is surprised as he’s tipping back over the edge, but the center of gravity has already betrayed him. He’s falling, and there’s a certain surrender to that. At the same time, he probably acknowledges a certain beauty that Will is falling with him to his death and they’re holding on to each other until impact.

So even in “death,” Hannibal feels like he won the battle?
Absoutely. In that final moment, the murder of Francis Dolarhyde, Hannibal proved himself right about Will. And there’s something very antagonistic about Will saying I’m not going to give you that for very long.

A romantic love between Will and Hannibal was always more of a subtext in earlier seasons, but became actual text in certain conversations this season. Do you think of this ultimately as a love story?
It was a love story from the very beginning – it was romantic horror. One of the reasons that I really wanted to do the project is I really wanted to investigate the depths of male friendships — the intimacy and the power and the loss of self you experience in a brotherhood camaraderie. That was the thing that fascinated me the most and was the root of the story that I wanted to tell.

And yet Hannibal’s love for Will was his fatal flaw.
His compassion for Will always hinged on Will’s ability to understand him in a way that he feels like he has never been understood. I think that is the same gift that Will has received from Hannibal. The core of their attraction to each other is that they truly see other for who they are. Hannibal is glamoured by that. If he wasn’t, he probably would have killed and eaten Will a long time ago.

More on the final scene at Vulture, along with how his version of Hannibal Lecter might be remembered:

How should the viewer read Will and Hannibal falling off the cliff together? Is it a double suicide?
No, I think it’s a murder/suicide. And then of course coming back in and seeing that someone has cut off Bedelia’s leg and is serving it, and she grabs a fork and hides it under her napkin to stab the neck of the person who’s going to come into the room next suggests that either Uncle Robertus and Lady Murasaki are going down Hannibal’s enemies list and checking them off, or that Hannibal may have survived that fall.

Some people have told me that their interpretation of it is that she sawed it off herself, cooked it up, and is waiting for him to come home like, “Honey, I made dinner!” [laughs], which is hilarious…

You’ve said that you wanted Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal to be the definitive one. Do you feel like he accomplished that?
I think for certain portions of the audience, he did. And for those who watch the show regularly, there’s 39 hours of Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter as opposed to six of Anthony Hopkins. But it all depends on who’s speaking to you generationally as that character. Who would you say is your definitive Hannibal Lecter? Still Anthony Hopkins?

Not anymore.

It remains to be seen whether Mads Mikkelsen can surpass Anthony Hopkins as the definitive Hannibal Lecter, but he will also have additional roles to shape his career. He is currently in talks to play the villain in Doctor Strange.

Hannibal Finale Bedelia

TV Line discussed Dolarhyde, and then Bedelia:

TVLINE | Circling back to the Will/Hannibal/Dolarhyde showdown — I felt like we didn’t really know 100 percent what way it was going to go. Will actually says to Hannibal that he intends to see him “changed” by Dolarhyde. And then, at one point, when Hannibal is looking at Will pulling out the knife, I wondered, is he signaling to Dolarhyde with his eyes or is he signaling Will? How did you view the scene? Do you feel like Will and Hannibal were always planning to end the Red Dragon, or was it unclear even to them?
I feel like Will was going there knowing that he very likely would not be able to finish Hannibal himself, because of his feelings for him, and that he needed Francis Dolarhyde to do it for him. And he knew that he may not survive it; it’s something he says several times through the episode. Bedelia says early in the scene with Will, “You can’t live with him, you can’t live without him.” That’s exactly what this is about. Will can’t live without Hannibal, and he knows that in that moment, once they’d experienced a murder together — a vicious, brutal murder where they hack a guy up with a knife and a hatchet — he’s like, “That was kind of fun. That was a good time. In fact, it was beautiful.” There’s a realization of his mind being able to process that experience as a thing of beauty. With that, he knows there is very little chance of him being able to return to humanity, so off they go.

Later in the interview regarding Bedelia:

TVLINE | You gave Bedelia resolution, of sorts, at the dinner table — where her leg is what’s for dinner. Knowing while you edited the hour that it was a real possibility this might be the series finale, was that absolutely where you wanted to end? And why put it after the credits?
Well, you know, I love post-credits sequence. I mean, you see Sherlock and Moriarty go over Reichenbach Falls, and you don’t know what fate befell those characters. By coming back in and seeing Bedelia at a dinner table being served her own leg, grabbing a fork and hiding it under the table and preparing to stab it in the neck of the next person who comes into the room, that’s a great way to tell the audience, “Yes, we have told you completion to this story, but who is serving Bedelia that leg? Is it Hannibal? Did he survive? Is it Uncle Robert is, and is David Bowie behind that curtain? Who’s serving her the leg?”

The longest interview was at Hitflix.com. Here are some highlights:

At what point in the season did you realize that this is how you were going to end it?

Bryan Fuller: Probably about halfway through the season. We’re always looking for a way to end a season in a way we could end the series. We never knew we were coming back. At the beginning of season 3, NBC was talking to me about new development, and that was a pretty big indicator to me that they weren’t planning on picking up a season 4. So I wanted to be sure we had an ending for the story we were telling, but also leave room for a continuation of the tale of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham should we get the option to tell more of it.

So you have an idea in mind in the event of something more where this is not the end of the story?

Bryan Fuller: Right. In my mind, the most interesting chapter of Will Graham’s story has yet to be told.

Once NBC made their decision official and you couldn’t find a buyer elsewhere for a fourth season, were you at peace with the idea that this is it?

Bryan Fuller: I knew the writing was on the wall. I knew that we had gotten ridiculously preferential treatment on this show by the network. The fact that they allowed us to tell the tales we were telling, and in a manner that was much more suited to a cable audience than a broadcast network audience. They were bending over backwards to accommodate us, and I knew they could only bend so far with ratings as bad as we had! (laughs)

Where do things stand now? What are the options?

Bryan Fuller: Martha De Laurentiis is looking into financing for a feature film. The season 4 that we were going to tell is such a restart and reimagining that I still hope in some way that we get to tell a version of that, if not “Silence of the Lambs” itself, as a miniseries. I would love to return this cast to the big screen from whence they came, and Hannibal Lecter to the big screen, from whence he came. It seems perfectly symmetrical.

Last time we talked, you put the odds on a fourth season at 50-50. What would you say the odds are now for any kind of filmed continuation?

Bryan Fuller: Oh, God. I have no idea. I think they’re less than 50/50, and not in our favor. But I’m curious to see how folks respond to the finale, and then also if that satisfies them? If that feels like “We got a conclusion to our story and it’s wrapped up in a bow, and we don’t need anymore,” then the audience will dictate. But if the audience is still there for the show and still wants a continuation of that story, I’ll continue looking for ways to give it to them.

Why does Will, to your mind, pull Hannibal off the cliff. Is it what Bedelia said about how he can’t live with him or without him, so they have to go down together?

Bryan Fuller: Essentially, the conclusion of the season really started very early in the Italian chapter of the story, where Will is admitting if he doesn’t kill Hannibal Lecter, he has the potential to become him. Then he escapes that trajectory with Hannibal being institutionalized, and finding a family, and once being exposed to the heroin needle again, as it were, he’s realizing how much of an addict he actually is, but is aware enough to know, and to start making moves toward his previous goal of ending Hannibal. And he’s willing to do what it takes. Bedelia says, “Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.” It’s not necessary for him to survive this, in order to accomplish what he needs to accomplish. There’s something so fated about that final act of Will’s. And also, the awareness of this is perhaps the best solution for both of them.

Hannibal looks so happy when Will is embracing him. Does he know what’s going to happen next, or is he thrown for a loop when they go over the cliff?

Bryan Fuller: I think Hannibal is thrown for a loop when they go over. In that final scene between them, it was Hugh Dancy and I talking about what those last moments that we see of Hannibal and Will in the series on NBC, how they need to connect, and yet Will can’t totally surrender to Hannibal, because he’s still Will Graham and still a human being, but he also knows that it’s going to be very difficult to go back to his family life, seeing his wife murdered over and over again in his mind every time that he looks at her. Any possibility of a relationship that could save him from Hannibal Lecter seems dimmer and dimmer in his mind, that it is acceptable to him that he not survive…

She seems as if she is throwing a dinner party.

Bryan Fuller: (laughs) No, that’s our little nod to the audience that perhaps Hanibal could have survived that cliff dive. She’s sitting at the table with her leg on the table and she’s looking absolutely terrified, and she grabs the fork and hides it under her napkin and waits for whoever’s going to return. This woman still has some fight in her. We don’t know if Hannibal is indeed serving her her leg, or is it Hannibal’s uncle Robertus, or Lady Murasaki, or is it Will Graham?…

Bryan Fuller: That was the original intention. No, somebody has got her, and will she or will she not survive. And what’s so fun is that on the song that Siouxsie Sioux wrote, we hear her say, “I will survive, I will survive,” as we’re pushing in on Bedelia, and that could mean she’s singing from Hannibal’s perspective and it means he has survived and will eat this woman now, or Bedelia’s point of view that it’s like, “You may have cut off this leg, but I’ve got this fork and I’m gonna do some damage before it’s done.”
“The previously filmed season finale of ‘Mr. Robot’ contains a graphic scene similar in nature to today’s tragic events in Virginia. Out of respect to the victims, their families and colleagues, and our viewers, we are postponing tonight’s episode. Our thoughts go out to all those affected during this difficult time.”

DEFIANCE -- "Upon the March We Fittest Die" Episode 313 -- Pictured: (l-r) Julie Benz as Amanda Rosewater, Grant Bowler as Joshua Nolan, Trenna Keating as Doc Yewll -- (Photo by: David Lee/Syfy)

Defiance ended its third, and strongest, season on Friday. After wrapping up the arc which dominated the season, the Omec arc, which had also been simmering all season, became the focus of the show. The Omec threat might have been handled too easily, but it brought about what might be the most exciting moment of the series. There is little doubt that Nolan and Doc Yewll will ultimately return to earth, but we can wonder upon the circumstances, and what will occur out in space before this happens.

The scheduled season finale of Mr. Robot was postponed a week due to similarities to killings taking place in Virginia earlier the same day. Considering how much other violence takes place both in the real world and on television, I’m not sure how much this matters. If nothing else, this gave more people a chance to get caught up with the series before its finale. For those who missed it, it is definitely a show worth catching up on.

Two other new shows from this summer which I recommend are Humans and Sense8 (which I reviewed here). As I was watching the uncut British episodes before episodes aired in the US, I did not review episodes of Humans as they aired here. The show typically moved at a fast pace with major revelations every week, slowing down a bit in the finale after resolving the problem of everyone being captured the week before. The finale resolved this, in case the show was not renewed, and then ended with a major revelation in the final moments which will probably drive season 2.

agents_of_shield season 3

A description was released for the third season of Agents of SHIELD which does tell quite a lot about the plans for the upcoming season. A new poster is also above, complete with Coulson’s robot hand. The show returns on Tuesday September 29.

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns for an action-packed third season, with Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Agent Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) leading the charge as S.H.I.E.L.D. searches the world for more powered people in the aftermath of their epic battle with Jiaying and her army of Inhumans. However, Coulson and the team soon find out that they are not the only group looking for these new Inhumans.

Many months after their war with a rogue group of Inhumans, the team is still reeling. Coulson is again trying to put the pieces of his once revered organization back together while also dealing with the loss of his hand. His confidante and second in command, Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), has yet to return from an impromptu vacation with ex-husband Andrew (Blair Underwood); deadly superspy Agent Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) is recovering from her traumatic torture at the hands of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton); Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is obsessed with discovering the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge); and all are on high-alert for the next move from Ward and Hydra.

Ever since the existence of Super Heroes and aliens became public knowledge after the Battle of New York, the world has been trying to come to grips with this new reality. Coulson assembled a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission: to protect those who cannot protect themselves from threats they cannot conceive.

But bigger threats loom ahead, setting the stakes even higher for the Agents, including the spread of Terrigen, an alien substance that unlocks superhuman abilities in select individuals; the emergence of new Inhumans who cannot yet control nor understand their powers; the rise of a new government organization that will go toe-to-toe with S.H.I.E.L.D.; the unknown properties of the massive alien Kree monolith, which has taken one of their own; and the constant threat of a rebuilt Hydra terrorist organization under S.H.I.E.L.D. traitor Grant Ward, who is making it his personal mission to take down Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D.

New faces, both friend and foe, will join the series, including the no-nonsense, highly-skilled and somewhat mysterious leader (Constance Zimmer) of the ATCU (Advanced Threat Containment Unit), her intimidating partner, Banks (Andrew Howard), Lash (Matthew Willig), a monstrous Inhuman whose loyalties remain ambiguous, and new Inhuman Joey (Juan Pablo Raba), who is struggling to harness his newfound abilities, among other surprising characters.

Coulson, with the help of Daisy and Mack (Henry Simmons), will work to slowly assemble a team that is stronger than ever before, combining the highly skilled Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with powered individuals in the hopes of protecting the innocent in a world where the balance of power is ever-shifting, and new dangers are constantly emerging.”

Amazon is working on a television series based upon Galaxy Quest.

Entertainment Weekly has some news (spoilers) about season two of Outlander, including how it might vary from the second book.

George R.R. Martin might have provided a spoiler for season six of Game of Thrones regarding whether Stannis survived. As we didn’t see him actually get killed, I would assume even without looking at spoilers that this remains a strong possibility.

Variety reports that a web series will bridge the gap between The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead

We have already seen Joss Whedon turn to Shakespeare, using many of his frequent stars in Much Ado About Nothing. Now Russel T. Davies is turning to Shakespeare with a production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream with the Doctor Who team.

Olive Sacks Book

Oliver Sacks, a neurologist who wrote about the brain in a way that showed that science fact can sometimes be stranger than science fiction, died at age 82. From The New York Times:

Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

The cause was cancer, said Kate Edgar, his longtime personal assistant.

Dr. Sacks announced in February, in an Op-Ed essay in The New York Times, that an earlier melanoma in his eye had spread to his liver and that he was in the late stages of terminal cancer.

As a medical doctor and a writer, Dr. Sacks achieved a level of popular renown rare among scientists. More than a million copies of his books are in print in the United States, his work was adapted for film and stage, and he received about 10,000 letters a year. (“I invariably reply to people under 10, over 90 or in prison,” he once said.)

Dr. Sacks variously described his books and essays as case histories, pathographies, clinical tales or “neurological novels.” His subjects included Madeleine J., a blind woman who perceived her hands only as useless “lumps of dough”; Jimmie G., a submarine radio operator whose amnesia stranded him for more than three decades in 1945; and Dr. P. — the man who mistook his wife for a hat — whose brain lost the ability to decipher what his eyes were seeing.

Update: Wes Craven has died at 76.  From The Hollywood Reporter:

Wes Craven, the famed maestro of horror known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76…

Craven claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street from living next to a cemetery on a street of that name in the suburbs of Cleveland. The five Nightmare on Elm Street films were released from 1984-89 and drew big crowds.

Similarly, Craven’s Scream series was a box-office sensation. In those scare-’em-ups, he spoofed the teen horror genre and frequently referenced other horror movies. 

Craven’s first feature film was The Last House on the Left, which he wrote, directed and edited in 1972. A rape-revenge movie, it appalled some viewers but generated big box office. Next came another film he wrote and helmed, The Hills Have Eyes (1977).

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

Mr Robot Mirroring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hannibal The Number of the Beast

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

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

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

Yvonne_Craig_Star_Trek

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

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

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

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

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

adrianne-palicki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: The Americans; The Flash; Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; Doctor Who (The Doctor Dates Cinderella); 12 Monkeys; Big Bang Theory; Two And A Half Men Finale; Mad Men In The 70’s; Orphan Black; Kristen Bell; If Ayn Rand Wrote Harry Potter; Birdman Parody; Politics And The Oscars

The Americans Nina Gulag

One of the things which makes The Americans one of the top television shows now on is the manner in which several story lines involving different characters are carried out so well. Whether or not the different story lines become intertwined, one storyline often has lessons for another. On Dimebag, while Elizabeth and Phillip fought over whether Paige should become a spy, neither seemed to have thought that if Paige had been trained they could have used her to get information from Kimberly, the young daughter of the CIA’s Afghan group, instead of Phillip seducing her. Neither realized initially the degree to which they were in danger of losing Paige to her church–hardly acceptable if she were to be a good Communist. There is some similarity to how Pastor Tim is “recruiting” Paige to how Phillip is using Kimberly and the Russians want them to recruit Paige. Meanwhile in Russian, Nina might be saved due to Oleg’s family relationship to the future Russian oligarchs, and she went to work on her cell mate as Elizabeth would work on getting information. On top of this, the episode included a defector who might be double crossing them, an EST meeting, and a visit with an AA sponsor.

Keri Russell discussed the relationships with her character’s daughter and mother this season, and described the scene earlier this season in which Annelise’s body was packed into a suitcase:

IGN: I have to ask about that second episode and the scene of having to get rid of the body in that hotel room. First of all, there’s the “Oh my god!” of it all. And then also is it interesting for you to play a character who already had to compartmentalize everything, but this is a woman that her husband was sleeping with as a part of the job, and now she has the reality of that in front of her?

Russell: All I have to say is so many naked girls! Naked, beautiful actress, naked beautiful contortionist, yeah. Then on a second unit day of reshoots, a second naked beautiful girl. I was like, “There’s a lot of pretty, naked girls on this show!” Yeah, so bizarre! Really gruesome. I haven’t seen it. Does it play?

IGN: Oh yeah, it plays.

Flash Firestorm

Last week The Flash was both a back door pilot for Firestorm and further advanced the idea of time travel for Barry Allen. We saw once again how far Harrison Wells is willing to go, and his motives remain unclear. We should be learning more when the show returns in March.

Also on CW, we saw a reversal on Arrow, as the flashback took place in Starling City while the present day action took place back on the island. It was strange to see Oliver from the period when he was missing back around his home. Seeing Oliver snooping around Queen Consolidated gave the feeling of a time travel story in which a character is in their past but cannot risk being seen.  Meanwhile, on the island, there was a deliberate reference to Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn with Slade’s comment, “I’m going to leave you as you left me.”

Agents of SHIELD returns March 3. Marvel has released this synopsis of the episode:

After discovering an alien city with ties to his resurrection, Coulson and his team destroyed it before the forces of Hydra could claim its secrets, eliminating the villainous Whitehall (Reed Diamond) in the process. But new threats to the world have arisen, including Skye’s father, Cal (Kyle McLachlan), who now seeks retribution against Coulson for stealing his revenge against Whitehall; a disturbing alliance between former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ward (Brett Dalton) and Agent 33; the enigmatic Raina (Ruth Negga), who struggles with her transformation into something inhuman by the alien Obelisk and seeks vengeance; and Skye (Chloe Bennet), who developed mysterious new powers from the Obelisk but whose lack of experience with her new abilities may threaten the safety of those she loves.

Meanwhile, Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Mack (Henry Simmons) begin the next phase of a plan which seems to have grave repercussions for Coulson and his team, who are unaware that there’s another mysterious force moving against them. And as Hunter (Nick Blood) is forced to make the biggest choice of his life, Coulson will find his mission threatened by this shocking endgame.

In the midseason premiere, “Aftershocks,” Coulson’s team must deal with the consequences of their war with Hydra as shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, and Hydra makes a dangerous move that may involve a traitor in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s midst.

Adrianne Palicki has been promoted to a series regular on Agents of SHIELD, which probably means that Will will not be getting back together with Doctor Sam on About a Boy anytime soon.

Lily James Matt Smith

The Doctor is dating Cinderella–Matt Smith has confirmed that he is dating Lily James. I don’t know if it has occurred yet in the US broadcasts of Downton Abbey so I won’t give any specifics, but I did like her character’s triumph in a late season episode. Of course anything is better than revisiting certain past events yet once again.

In other Doctor Who and related news, The BBC has announced that Michelle Gomez will return as Missy in a two part episode to open the next season of Doctor Who. Add Eve Myles to the list of those interested in another season of Torchwood.

Speaking of Lily James in Cinderella, Ellen DeGeneres has presented a mash-up of Cinderella and Fifty Shades of Grey. Video above.

I thought there was a chance that 12 Monkeys might be able to make it into the upper tier of genre shows with The Night Room last week but The Red Forest couldn’t keep up the same quality this week. Not that it was a bad episode, but it was too easy to fix the timeline when it simply came down to Cassie getting captured in our present, and saving her would fix things. There are still a number of questions raised last week which could provide interesting episodes. Plus they now know how important Cassie’s role is and will make sure that they do not change history involving her, ensuring that she can deliver the message for Cole before she dies.

Amazon has renewed Mozart in the Jungle (which I recommend watching, now about half way through the first season) and is going ahead with the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. I have intentionally held off on watching the pilot, preferring to wait until Amazon shows are released in full as opposed to watching the pilot months earlier, but reviews have been excellent for the pilot.

Last week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory seemed to throw far too much into a single episode, including the reopening of Stuart’s comic book store, a cameo by Nathan Fillion, and (the most amusing part of the show), Sheldon telling Penny how Amy was doing experiments on her. Then we learned what the episode was really about–a tribute to Carol Ann Susi, the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz, who died in November. There is a toast to her in the video above, and there is an unseen tribute to her in every episode:

After we had that impromptu memorial the morning she passed away, Johnny and I were hugging—like everybody was—and right then we found our prop person and asked to get a little picture of Carol Ann and we put it on the refrigerator [in Leonard and Sheldon’s kitchen] so she’s there in every episode now. It’s so small you wouldn’t even see it, but on the fridge is this tiny little wallet-size picture of Carol Ann that’s been there since the day she passed away.

It also appears that The Big Bang Theory is so subversive that China doesn’t want its citizens to be able to watch the show.

We are going into the final week of one of the best network sit-coms in recent years, Parks and Recreation. Last week we had the finale of Two And A Half Men, a multi-cam sit-com which over the last twelve years has shown everything wrong with the format. If anyone cares, Chuck Lorre explained his intentions for the finale. There were no apologies to the nation, but at least our great national nightmare is over.

Mad Men 70's

Mad Men enters the 1970’s for its final half-season, and from the music playing in the trailer it might even be doing a time jump to the mid 70’s. After that, I’m looking forward to the inevitable spin-off. Better Call Sally. Just kidding but considering how good Better Call Saul has been so far as a spin-off of Breaking Bad, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if AMC went that route again.

AMC purchased 49 percent of BBC America, and this has implications for the promotion of the third season of Orphan Black. The show probably has many less viewers than a show of this quality might otherwise have due to not being seen on BBC America. In the hopes of increasing exposure, the third season premiere will be shown on all of AMC’s channels, including AMC, Sundance TV, IFC and We TV. The one problem with this strategy is that Orphan Black is not a good show to come into late. Perhaps they should have been rerunning the first two seasons on some other channels prior to the start of the third season.

Forget any thoughts of John Oliver taking over for Jon Stewart. HBO, perhaps thinking along those lines and wanting to lock him in, has signed Oliver for two more seasons of This Week Tonight, with 35 episodes a year. Meanwhile Jon Stewart, after having to put out new shows daily, near year round, might envy Oliver’s deal.

Kristen Bell has no tolerance for anti-vaxxers, and won’t let them around her children. “It’s a very simple logic: I believe in trusting doctors, not know-it-alls.”

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Morena Baccarin (of Gotham, Firefly, V, and Homeland) has been cast as the female lead in another superhero adaptation, this time the movie version of Deadpool. I don’t know if this will impact her work on Gotham, but we know that sooner or later Jim Gordon has to get back with Barbara, or else Batgirl will never be born.

BoingBoing has pointed out an example of Harry Potter fan fiction by Mallory Ortberg, written as if it was written by Ayn Rand. Thus there are passages such as, “It’s also why I never water my plants in Herbology. They must learn to survive with or without me. Self-sufficiency is not just a human virtue. It is the highest virtue.”  Plus don’t miss the link to Mallory Ortberg’s reviews of children’s movies as if they were written by Ayn Rand. For example:

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

An industrious young woman neglects to charge for her housekeeping services and is rightly exploited for her naïveté. She dies without ever having sought her own happiness as the highest moral aim. I did not finish watching this movie, finding it impossible to sympathize with the main character. —No stars.

“Bambi”

The biggest and the strongest are the fittest to rule. This is the way things have always been. —Four stars.

“101 Dalmatians”A wealthy woman attempts to do her impoverished school friend Anita a favor by purchasing some of her many dogs and putting them to sensible use. Her generosity is repulsed at every turn, and Anita foolishly and irresponsibly begins acquiring even more animals, none of which are used to make a practical winter coat. Altruism is pointless. So are dogs. A cat is a far more sensible pet. A cat is objectively valuable. —No stars.


Big Bird meets Birdman in the video spoof above. Birdman is considered a heavy favorite to win an Oscar for best movie.

When actors go on stage to accept Oscars tonight, many of them are contributing to the Democrats, and some to the Republicans. The Hill reports:

Democrats are the biggest winners when it comes to raking in political donations from Academy Award nominees.

Some of the Oscars’ most famous contenders — including this year’s hopefuls Reese Witherspoon, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Bradley Cooper, and Meryl Streep — are delivering big bucks for the left.

Norton plays an egotistical movie star in “Birdman,” — which snagged him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at Sunday’s awards — but the real-life film star is one of Hollywood’s biggest Democratic donor…

Witherspoon, who earned her second Best Actress nomination this year for “Wild,” has also donated generously to Democrats, according to Federal Election Commission records. The 2005 Oscar winner gave $1,500 to Warren’s camp in 2012. She’s also given in excess of $6,000 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and $1,500 to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

While Clint Eastwood, the director behind Best Picture nominee “American Sniper,” is known for his support of Republican candidates — famously delivering his “empty chair speech” at the 2012 Republican National Convention — the film’s star, Bradley Cooper, gave $750 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. Cooper is vying for Best Actor for his portrayal of real-life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the record-breaking movie.

The article later discusses how Democrats often use celebrities in fund raising campaigns while “Republicans have capitalized on conservative celebrity activists by encouraging them to run for office.”