SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Flash; Agents of SHIELD; Gotham; Doctor Who; Hannibal; Daredevil; True Blood; The Leftovers; The Last Ship; 24; Penny Dreadful

Arrow Oliver Felicity

TV Guide interviewed Andrew Kreisberg about the third season of Arrow:

Can Arrow‘s consummate hero have it all?

The third season of The CW series will dare to answer that question when Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) attempts to have his cake and eat it too — in this case, that means being a superhero that the residents of Starling City actually respect while also trying to have a personal life. It’s harder than it sounds — something that Ollie will learn fairly quickly into the season.

But Oliver’s love life won’t be the only thing that’s complicated this season, especially since two of his ladies will actually be getting love interests of their own! TVGuide.com tracked down executive producer Andrew Kreisberg to get the scoop on the new season, including a surprising return from the dead, the future for Team Arrow and new villains ahead:

Will there be a time jump when the show returns?
Andrew Kreisberg: 
We’re going to jump the same amount of time that we did last year. It’ll be real time. It’ll be seven or eight months later. For Oliver, things are good. As we like to say, everything is coming up Arrow. Crime is down. At the end of last year, there was victory. A lot of this season is about what happens when you win and how winning isn’t always as easy as it looks.

What does it mean for Oliver now that the city actually accepts him?
Kreisberg: 
In the premiere, Lance (Paul Blackthorne) actually disbands the anti-vigilante task force in his new role as Captain. The Arrow is free to do his thing and it’s different for Oliver. He spent the first two years being hunted and distrusted. Now, he’s starting to feel like he has this under control. And then, of course, as Joss Whedon taught us all, you let your characters have a moment of happiness and then you take it all away from them.

You seemed to be setting the stage for Ra’s al Ghul to be the villain in Season 3. Is he actually the villain? Can you say anything about the new villain?
Kreisberg: 
It’s big. I can say that he’s big and he’s bad. We’re still figuring that stuff out. As far as the Big Bad, there will be Big Bad. Even last year, everybody was a subset of Slade’s (Manu Bennett). Slade was the Big Bad. We will meet other villains along the way, as always. We’ll have recurring villains and new villains we’re starting with this year and people who are coming back from the previous two seasons.

Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Oliver are going on a date in the season premiere. How do you avoid the TV trope that a hero can’t be with the woman he loves just because of his duty?
Kreisberg: 
When you see the premiere and you see how things shake out, you’ll come to a very sympathetic understanding of both of their positions. The premiere last year was a microcosm of what was happening for the whole year. In the same way that the premiere of last season was really about Oliver struggling with whether or not he should be the Arrow, in this season premiere it’s, “Can I have everything I want?” That quest is going to take up his entire year, and hers.

How much of a foil will Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Felicity’s new rumored love interest and head of Queen Consolidated, be to Oliver?
Kreisberg: 
A big foil. It’s Season 3, and Season 3 is typically when you add that game-changing character like Buffy did in adding Faith or Everwood did with adding Scott Wolf. First of all, getting Brandon — he couldn’t be nicer, he couldn’t be sweeter. It’s just such a different energy that he’s bringing to the show. A lot of what’s funny about Felicity and Oliver is that he’s so straight and she’s the funny one. With Brandon, you get somebody who’s as tall, square-jawed and handsome as he is [and] he’s a really funny comedian. He and Felicity can have that verbal repartee that we haven’t typically had on the show. As much as the show is getting darker, it’s gotten a lot funnier. It’s just such a different energy. He and Felicity are really cute together.

The second season ended with the Black Canary giving her black jacket to her sister Laurel. This fed speculation that Laurel will become the Black Canary as in the comics. Kreisberg has a good point that she is not ready for this  yet: “As always with all of these things, you can’t just put on a mask and go running around. You’ll get killed. Laurel is still just an attorney. She’s an attorney with a jacket. I think Katie Cassidy fans are going to be very, very excited about her trajectory this year. Laurel is going to have a new love interest this season.” Caity Lotz will be returning for three episodes next season. One of the many good things about Arrow is that there is now a huge supporting cast, and even more characters are to be introduced. This allows them to have a variety of characters for parts of a season as opposed to having exactly the same characters from week to week. There will also be a cross over with The Flash next season in the eighth episode of each show, and Felicity will appear in the fourth episode of The Flash.

There has been contradictory information as to whether The Flash and/or Arrow will cross over with the DC cinematic universe in the manner in which Agents of SHIELD does with Marvel. The latest story is that DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns says the television shows and movies will be kept separate. Presumably this will mean that the Flash seen in the Justice League of America movie would be a different character than on the television show. While it would be entertaining to have the television and movie universes combined, there are advantages of keeping them separate. This allows for greater flexibility with the television shows not being confined by the movie universe, avoiding the problems faced by SHIELD most of its first season.

BRETT DALTON

Agents of SHIELD executive producers Jeffrey Bell, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen were interviewed about plans for the second season, now that the show is no longer constrained by waiting for Captain America: The Winter Soldier to reveal HYDRA’s infiltration of SHIELD.

Will there be consequences for Grant Ward for all that he had done last year?

“I would assume so,” Maurissa Tancharoen said. “Let’s put it this way: They’re not gonna just drop him on a farm and let him run wild.” Jed Whedon added. “When last we left him, he was in our custody. What does that mean? You’ll have to see,” Maurissa teased.

What are you specifically excited about for Season 2?

“I think the fact that when we left them, S.H.I.E.L.D. had completely crumbled… so just the idea of Coulson and our team, sort of left with nothing, or limited resources… I think we’ll be rooting for them to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Tancharoen said.

“It’s a lot harder to protect the world when you don’t have any resources. Last year we saw how giant and all-consuming S.H.I.E.L.D.’s reach was, and they don’t have that anymore, so it’s much more of a struggle. They’re much more the underdog this year, which we’re really excited about that, and the tone that it sets, and what it does to our characters.” Whedon added.

This “ragtag team” has Maria Hill as a contact and she’s working for Tony Stark. Couldn’t she talk to him to hook them up with some money?

“We hope so! That’d be so cool!” Whedon responded. “Maybe so,” Tancharoen said. “That’s a good question.”

“Tony Stark doesn’t know Coulson’s alive, so it might be really awkward. It’d be weird,” Jeffrey Bell chimed in. “They could set up a Coulson Memorial Fund and channel that into S.H.I.E.L.D.,” he joked.

So with Phil Coulson now being the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers still don’t know he’s alive?

“That’s a complicated question. One might assume, but you can’t assume anything, and they have their own movie that exists…” Whedon said, with his brother, of course, directing Avengers 2: Age of Ultron to come out next year.

“At least on screen so far, that hasn’t happened,” Bell said.

Will we be seeing Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) sooner rather than later?

“That’s a good question. When last we left him, we didn’t know exactly what happened to him. We just know he’s alive,” Tancharoen teased.

Gotham

TV Guide has more information on Gotham:

There will be no cape. There will be no cowl. Nevertheless, Fox’s Gotham intends to stay true to the Batman comics that fans have come to know and love over more than seven decades.

Based on DC Comics characters, Gotham explores the origin stories of the Caped Crusader’s eventual ally James Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie), a detective with the Gotham City Police Department, and his battle with the villains who made the city famous.

“What we won’t do is break the canonical iron truths of the mythology,” executive producer Bruno Heller told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s fall previews on Sunday. “It’s not a whole new mythology. But issues of chronology, we will play with in a fun way.”

Instead of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) taking center stage in the effort to save Gotham, James Gordon will be the central focus as he fights the ever rampant corruption and crime alongside his partner and mentor Det. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). “Gordon is the lynchpin of the show,” Heller explains. “He’s the guy who creates Batman or gives permission for Batman to exist in this world. Gordon will still remain at the central, but it’s very much about [the origin stories of every character], but Gordon is the moral center that you can identify with.”

Though Heller said that Batman won’t appear on the series, he doesn’t believe that will drive the fanboys away. “I don’t think so because the really interesting parts of the stories is the origin stories,” Heller says. “As soon as you’re into the capes and the costumes, it’s less interesting than how the people got there.

“If there is a superhero in this show, it’s Gotham,” he continues. “That’s a larger than life character that’s a central part of the show. To me, heroes are more interesting than superheroes because precisely the difference is superheroes do the impossible, and drama is really about the physically possible. This is about people and people trying to overcome real problems as opposed to trying to learn how to fly.”

But where do Gothamites find hope when the city’s villains of are running free with nary a hero (or the hope of one) to stop them? After all, Bruce Wayne hasn’t even started shaving yet! “That’s the situation that the show is all about,” Heller says. “How do you deal with crime of this level when there are no superheroes? It’s as much about the hope and the struggle that they’re engaged in… It’s about men and women, not about superheroes.”

And those men and women truly will be overrun. Though the first season delves into the rise of the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the series pilot introduces a fair amount of villains for the show to play with, including Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Poison Ivy (Clare Foley) and Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). “You have to front-load the pilot with the best that you’ve got because that’s the way that you’ve got to open big,” Heller says of introducing so many villains. “As the show rolls on, we’ll be far more … careful with how we roll out the villains and in what way.”

Trailers for the upcoming season of Doctor Who above (one official and one from a fan).

With Laurence Fishburne having a roll on a new show next season, Black-ish, there has been speculation that this might mean that he did not survive the massacre in the second season finale of Hannibal. Fishburne says he is returning, and will do both shows part time. He also says the third season of Hannibal will be very dark–as if the first two seasons were so light and cheerful.

Looking back quickly on some genre shows of the past week, I was happy to see True Blood end some of its weak plot lines and get rid of some of the superfluous characters. This almost gives them yet another fresh start going into the final episodes of the series, and I hope they take advantage of this to end with a better story line.

The_Leftovers_65223

The Leftovers dealt with Christopher Eccleston’s character. As we know that it will not deal with any sort of explanation of what  happened to the missing people, to be successful the show will need to get viewers interested in the characters and how they responded to the other people disappearing. So far they have not done the greatest job of introducing the characters and adequately explaining their motivations. Earlier episodes dealt heavily with the police chief and his family, but it is not clear why his family is so affected considering that nobody in their family disappeared. Entertainment Weekly compared The Leftovers to Battlestar Galactica in the way in which both shows dealt with a loss of a portion of the population. Both the disaster and the manner in which the response were handled was greater on BSG.

While The Leftovers does have that in common with Battlestar Galactica, The Last Ship has far more in common in dealing with a ship of people surviving after mass deaths. It remains more of an action/adventure show than hard science fiction, but remains entertaining summer television.

Under the Dome remains weak (to put it gently), yet somehow remains interesting to watch. The same problems persist with the Dome having powers with no apparent limits but no clear motivations for those using the power. Now it was able to bring a girl who died years ago back to life. Plus Junior’s mother was also confirmed to be alive after her reported suicide.

24: Live Another Day concluded its short season. A shorter season was a plus, but it would have been even better if it ended a few episodes earlier when the main terrorist plot was tied up. In the past, full seasons suffered from the need to move from one plot line to another to keep things going for an entire twenty-four episodes. Now that they were freed from those constraints it would have better to tell one single story well, regardless of how many episodes it took. Then they had to tag on yet another quick story at the end to put Chloe in danger to set up Jack’s fate. The producers of 24 have not yet said whether the show will return. I’m sure that depends upon a lot upon the ratings.

Extant remained interesting in its second episode. I still fear it will turn out to be a network television rehash of old science fiction (and Spielberg)  troupes but I’m willing to give it a chance to prove me wrong.

Penny Dreadful Eva Green

Penny Dreadful ended earlier this month and I should note that after seeing the entire first season that it was well worth watching. The plot was not the strong point but it did excel in creating its characters and a world where fictional characters including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and others interacted. The show had a strong cast including Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett, and Billy Piper, but by far the strongest was Eva Green. The actual story such as fights with vampires weren’t terrible significant except as ways to introduce the characters and set up future events. Early episodes showed some violent deaths and, while there were some clues, the probable identity of the killer wasn’t revealed until the finale, undoubtedly influencing the second season. The show also made good use of episodic television, both having continuing stories and using some episodes to reveal character back stories or past events.

James Gardner, star of shows including The Rockford Files and Maverick, died yesterday at 86. Reports from Variety and The New York Times.

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Orphan Black; Person of Interest; The Blacklist; Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; The Americans; Revenge; Alison Brie; Emelia Clarke; Porn Stars in Game of Thrones; Billie Piper; Nebula and BAFTA Award Winners

Hannibal Mason Face

The penultimate episode of Hannibal for the season, Tome-wan, wrapped up the current Mason Verger storyline and set the stage for next week’s confrontation between Jack and Hannibal, already shown in the season premiere. The scene in which a drugged Mason Verger was feeding his own face to Will’s dogs was among the more gruesome of the series. The episode also included fantasies of Hannibal being fed to Mason’s pigs.

Last week we learned that Will was working with Jack and was not really a murderer under Hannibal’s spell. This week they walked this back a bit, leaving Jack not entirely clear as to whose side Will was really on. I suspect that Will is still interested in helping take Hannibal down, but is not above keeping things from Jack, and was willing to work with Hannibal to see Mason Verger receive the punishment he felt he deserved after what he did to Margot. I also wonder if questions over Will’s loyalties leads to Jack setting himself up as bait and is the reason the two wind up fighting, as opposed to an organized FBI arrest.

The episode also included the brief return of Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. Gillian Anderson managed to come in for six hour for filming between plains concluding Crisis and leaving to begin filming on The Fall. As a consequence, it was necessary to only briefly have her tell about her back story in which Hannibal persuaded her to kill a patient (partially in self-defense) as opposed to actually showing this, and it appears she has a much smaller role in the final take down of Hannibal than I previously predicted. While I wish we could see more of her on Hannibal, it was good news that she was finally going to film the second season of The Fall.

Fortunately Hannibal has been renewed for a third season and it won’t be necessary to shop the show around to other networks which might consider it, such as the Food Network.

Bryan Fuller discussed the conclusion of the Mason Verger storyline for this season, and the motivations of the characters involved:

Let’s talk about Mason’s drug trip. How was that conceived?
Fuller: 
It was directed by Michael Rymer, and it was fascinating to sit down and figure out how we were going to film this enhanced state of mind. Michael Pitt’s performance is so infectiously fun. I find it immensely enjoyable and very f—ed up in a thoroughly giddy way. I think the thing that Michael Rymer brought to the scene was a similar infectious sense of fun. He wanted it to be a carnival of sorts. He wanted to light sparklers in the room to create the things your retinas do when you’re under that much chemical oppression. He was the right guy to bring the drug trip to life and has the humor to make sure it is as fun onscreen as it can be.

Mason certainly seemed to be enjoying himself even though he was cutting off his own face!
Fuller:
 [Laughs] Michael Pitt was having the time of his life with this performance. And there’s something between Hannibal and Will in that moment that is very playful, which is perhaps a strange word to use in that context. But there’s a gamesmanship afoot because Hannibal essentially says, “I got him to cut off his face. Your turn.”

However, Will needs Hannibal to commit this murder so they can arrest him, but Hannibal only breaks Mason’s neck. Is Hannibal on to Will or is he keeping Mason alive because of Margot’s financial dilemma?
Fuller:
  Hannibal’s response is all of those things. It’s a gesture toward Margot to give her some control in her life. And also, he doesn’t kill him completely because, as he has said and will say again to Margot, the best therapy for her is to kill her brother.

And I assume Mason doesn’t tell Jack the truth because he too has some of his own twisted plans for Hannibal.
Fuller:
 Mason does not want Jack Crawford to deliver justice to Hannibal. He wants to deliver justice his own way. This is all now a very particular game for Mason, which I am hoping to explore much more of in Season 3. Episode 12 completes the Verger arc for Season 2 and sets up the Verger arc for Season 3.

Orphan Black Sarah Helena

Ipsa Scientia Potestas provided more information on the development of the clones and, as usual for an episode of Orphan Black, raised more questions than it answered. Rachel joined characters on shows including Agents of SHIELD, Revenge, and The Blacklist with presumed dead fathers who are or might be alive. We found that Rachel has a monitor just like the other clones, but she is in a special position giving her more power. Paul, after not being seen much this season, has become more important after Rachel chose him to replace Daniel as her monitor, among other things. While Orphan Black doesn’t compete with Game of Thrones in terms of rape scenes, the scene in which she forced Paul into having sex with her will remain one of the more memorable scenes of the series. Paul does now have three notches in his clone belt. I’m hoping they manage to find a way to get him involved with Alison next (who was totally absent from this week’s episode). Paul’s motivations remain unclear as he is being blackmailed into cooperating. This week he went along with the plan to frame Felix for murder in order to gain control over Sarah but in future episodes it would not be surprising to see him help Sarah against Rachel if the opportunity were to present itself.

You can never be certain as to which side a character is on. Helena has been transformed from crazy murder to crazy murderer who does care about her twin sister Sarah. Leekie looks far more like an ally for the Clone Club, even being at odds with Rachel over some matters, compared to last season. I suspect that he intentionally sent Delphine the email on the stem cell tests to help Cosima, contrary to Rachel’s view of Cosima as expendable. It has become clear that, as suspected, Cal is hiding something after we saw his stash of weapons, cash, and fake ID. However, for the moment I trust Kira’s intuition and if she trusts him I will assume for now that he can turn out to be helpful to Sarah.

On the other hand, the Proletheans are clearly evil. If there was any doubt, this was eliminated when they sewed Gracie’s mouth closed for telling a lie. Now it looks like Gracie will become the surrogate mother following Helena’s escape.

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Bruce Dylan (Paul) about his character’s motivations and the sex scene with Rachel:

The episode’s big “wow” moment was Rachel and Paul’s sex scene.

When I read it on the page, I had never seen anything like this on television before. It’s amazing how quickly Tatiana [Maslany] jumps into all these different characters and how immersed she is in each character she’s playing. Our director for this last episode, Helen Shaver, she’s very good in the realm of sexuality. She knows how to bring the sexy out of her actors. A lot of the moving parts in that scene were added by her. It’s almost like Rachel’s inspecting Paul like he’s a derby horse — looking at his teeth, making sure that he’s clean and worthy of her. It seems like she has a lot of suppressed sexual energy and very kinky as well. I was anticipating that they’d have whips and chains in the room. (Laughs.) I called her Fifty Shadesof Rachel. I thought she would have some sort of sex room with a swing or something. That scene was absolutely brilliant. It’s very sexy on a completely different level than other sex scenes that I’ve seen on television. It’s weird and sexy at the same time.

How is Paul adjusting to his new role as Rachel’s monitor? Will he be taking advantage of his current position?

He’s in a situation right now where it’s definitely to his advantage. The fact that Daniel is out of the picture, Paul’s not a disposable asset anymore. Now he can become a usable force. That helps him out and helps him progress his own cause. It seems like he’s being blackmailed into doing this, but there is something much bigger that this guy is involved with. That’s about all I can say about that. He would want nothing more than to burn the Dyad corporation to the ground, I think.

There’s an interesting power struggle between Dr. Leekie and Rachel and Paul’s stuck in the middle of it. Out of the two, who does he have more allegiance to?

Neither. This is another great thing for him. He can answer to two masters. That allows him to play both of them at the same time, but it’s a slippery slope. He has to walk that tightrope between the two of them. It’s almost like he’s waiting to see who comes out on top. He’s maintaining that guise where he’s tied to both of them, but in reality, his allegiance is going to lie with the one who wins in the end. He’s not going to pick a losing team, that’s for sure.

Speaking more specifically about the Felix matter. Does Paul have any ounce of guilt over putting him in jail?

When I read [the scene], I thought “Oh my god, this is going to be really hard to play with Jordan [Gavaris]” because I love Jordan so much and I love the character of Felix. The way I was playing it, I was trying to show the least amount of emotion because Paul’s a pretty stoic character. [Paul] was not pleased at all with having to do what he had to do. That was a necessity to do that. When he takes the gun out of the bag and Felix is like “What are you doing Paul?” it was more like an air of disappointment. If Paul didn’t do it, [Rachel] would have gotten rid of him herself.

It was dropped in that Paul has slept with three clones: Beth, Sarah and now Rachel. Is that notable?

When he slept with Beth, he was blackmailed into being her monitor and her boyfriend, or he could have faced military trial or the death sentence or life in prison or who knows what. When he slept with Sarah, she initiated the intimacy and now he sleeps with Rachel, she again initiates the intimacy. So he’s definitely not a prude but he’s definitely not the aggressor in the situation. (Laughs.) I don’t know how much you can say “Paul gets around” because it seems these clones are the aggressor in these situations. It’s so empowering because we have a brilliant female lead and all these brilliant female characters, it’s almost like a role reversal.

You’ve hinted several times that Paul has an agenda. How soon before what he’s been plotting is revealed?

You’ll find out this season tidbits, just snippets of it. That will [lead] to the next season. He’s very mysterious, isn’t he?

Another interview with Bruce Dylan at TV Line gave more evidence of Tatiana Maslany’s acting talents:

TVLINE | What was it like to film that scene? You’ve worked with Tatiana [Maslany] before, but it was as Sarah. Now you’re working with her as Rachel, and she’s this completely different animal.
You’re absolutely right. We all know how brilliant Tatiana is and how great she is. But when she is in these characters, she is firmly immersed in that character. You don’t feel as an actor, acting opposite of her, that she’s Tatiana playing a different character. She is Rachel. She is Sarah. It’s very easy to act opposite her because she is 100 percent into her character at that time. It’s a wonderful thing for an actor to do, because she’s so easy to react off and she’s so spontaneous.

That scene, how it was written on the page was actually different than how we performed it. Our director, Helen Shaver, she’s wonderful and she’s very good at bringing the sexy out of her actors with wonderful notes and directions. There were a lot of moving parts to that scene that she added in for both Tatiana and me. It made the scene a lot creepier than how it was on the page. And it made it a lot steamier at the same time. I’ve never seen a scene like that on television before.

TVLINE | Is it bizarre having love scenes with the same actress, but as two different characters?
She’s so good – that’s the first time anybody’s asked me that question, which is amazing – that has never once entered my mind. She is so into that character, it’s so easy to differentiate between the two. I don’t feel like it’s Tatiana playing a character. I actually feel like “Oh, this is really a person. [Laughs] This is really Rachel.” It wasn’t hard at all.

While Tatiana Maslany deserves most of the credit for making each clone seem like a distinct character, she does get some help. Yahoo interviewed the makeup and hair stylists for Orphan Black who explained how they make each clone seem different. Rachel takes the longest, and they use the most expensive cosmetics on her. As I had expected, it is intentional that Helena’s dark roots show despite her bleached hair.

Deus Ex Machina

There were several season finales last week. Person of Interest has totally changed the character of the show. Instead of achieving a true victory, Root had to settle for creating seven blind spots in Samaritan for herself, Shaw, Reese, Finch, and the three tech nerds. They had to separate, but Samaritan could not identify them. Presumably some of them will find a way to reunite to work together in some way next season. It is more questionable if they will continue to have episodes based upon a number of the week received from the Machine. Carter was already killed off last season when the show became less of a police procedural, and there also appears to be less of a role for Fusco. He was at the center of the stories related to HR, but he is not even aware of the existence of the Machine which drove so many of the cases he was involved with.

I wasn’t completely surprised, but was somewhat disappointed, that Vigilance turned out to have been created by Decima to create a false crisis to convince the government to go ahead with Samaritan. Greer might be deceitful, and his actions dangerous, but his motivations are not totally evil. Rather than seeking power for himself, he seems to truly think that it would be a good thing to place a super computer in charge of humanity. At the end, rather than giving Samaritan his orders, he told Samaritan it was about what it commanded. Clearly nothing good could come out of this.

Over the course of the first few seasons of Person of Interest, the real world caught up with the show as we learned about NSA surveillance. Now the show has leaped ahead of where we currently are, enabling it to provide a warning about where we might wind up.

In an interview with IO9, Jonathan Nolan talked about plans for next season and explained why New York is actually a good place to avoid surveillance:

In the first two and a half seasons of the show, New York and the city’s politics were a big part of the narrative. We had HR and the deputy mayor, and Elias and the gangs. Are we ever going to circle back to that? Are we going to get back to the politics of New York in this new surveillance dystopia you’ve created? Is Elias going to be back?

JN: Absolutely. We’ve always — hopefully in a good way — vacillated back and forth between the more metropolitan storyline and the Machine, or kind of global, storyline. Because the great thing about New York is that it’s both. It’s the kind of center of the world, in so many ways. But it’s also its own rich kind of arena. And Finch and Reese and Shaw, and now Root, and Fusco, are going to continue to be inveigled into local politics, and certainly local crime, every bit as much as they have up to this point. The people they’re trying to save every week. That storyline continues. That Machine still spits out numbers. And it’s going to be spitting out even more of them. So we’re doubling down on both fronts. We’ve always taken with, and fascinated by, the idea that within New York City, you have a bounded infinity of stories. So we never want to step away from that. We just want to keep raising the stakes on both levels.

And in this new A.I.-enabled world, whoever rules the big cities like New York has more power, because the big cities are where the infrastructure and the intelligencia are. So it becomes even more of a microcosm of the global power struggle.

JN: Yeah, absolutely. And ironically, New York, which is the most heavily surveiled place in the world, becomes one of the few places in the world to hide from surveillance. There was this awful but fascinating story from three years ago, when we were shooting the pilot in New York. There was a serial killer operating out on Long Island — in fact, I think this was the same one who was dumping his bodies not far from where we were shooting a stunt sequence. And this is awful, but he was making phone calls to some of the victims’ relatives using their cellphones, but doing it from Times Square. Because he or she, or whoever this villain was, understood that Times Square is one of the few places in the whole wide world where you can make a phone call on a cell phone that’s being trace. And when the authorities try to match up that phone call to surveillance footage to see who made the call — and try to match a person to a phone call, essentially — it’s impossible. Times Square is filled with hundreds of thousands of people on any given afternoon, all of whom have a cellphone. So it’s that hiding in plain sight. New York ironically becomes the only place in the world where you can hide from the surveillance state, even while being the very epicenter of it. So for us, the perfect arena for this fight that’s going to take place.

I was less excited by the first season finale of The Blacklist as it essentially reset the show back to where we were, with a new villain. There was little drama in Lizzie saying she would no longer work with Reddington as I had no doubt that she would not hold to that. Besides, why was she so surprised to learn that Red is a monster when he was telling her that he is one all along? The show is entertaining and worth watching due to the terrific job done by James Spader, which more than makes up for the weak job done by Megan Boone. The scenes with Alan Alda are an additional plus, even if it is not clear who exactly he is and why he was able to order that Reddington be allowed to escape in the finale.

ARROW

Arrow had the spectacular comic book ending that was expected, managing to bring back many of the characters seen over the course of the series. They did add some questionable drama to an already difficult situation by having ARGUS threaten to blow up the city to contain Slade’s army. As there were only fifty of them, and Oliver did ultimately get the cure, it would have seemed more reasonable to guard the exits to prevent any from leaving, and then moving in with enough force to overpower them should the cure fail.

Previously when we learned that Oliver had a cure back on the island, there was speculation that Oliver’s decision to kill as opposed to try to cure Slade might have been the real motivation for his vendetta against Oliver. In the flashbacks it was clear that by the time this occurred Slade’s views were already set, and this really was all about Shado.

The cure did work on Roy in the present, leaving him in a situation to work with the Arrow next season. When he had super powers, even before going insane, I had questioned how it could have worked to have the sidekick be more powerful than the lead. This will no longer be a problem. Sarah left with the League of Assassins. She might return, but she also left her leather jacket with Laurel. Is this the first step in her becoming the Black Canary as in the comics? Their father was restored to the rank of Detective, but it is not clear if he will survive into next season.

The flashbacks on the island seemed to have concluded their story, but the episode ended by showing how this will be handled next season. Oliver woke up in Hong Kong to be greeted by Amanda Waller. This could provide for some interesting stories in flashbacks. Eventually we know that Oliver has to wind up alone on the island to be rescued as on the pilot. Perhaps he really became stranded there again, or perhaps this was set up to allow for him to be rescued without any ties to ARGUS.

Felicity has become a huge favorite among fans since she was added to the show during the first season. The two of them tricked Slade, taking advantage of the cameras he hid in the Queen mansion earlier in the season to have him see Oliver say that Felicity is the one he really loves. Both Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards have told E! Online that they don’t think this was entirely an act. Of course there is little doubt that they will drag this out for a long time before ever having the two get together.

Agents-of-SHIELD-Season-1-Finale-Coulson-Writing-on-Wall

I was glad that there was no redemption scene for Ward, as many feared would occur in the season finale of Agents of SHIELD. While he couldn’t bring  himself to outright kill Fitz and Simmons last week, like he couldn’t kill the dog he was stranded with, he did leave them in a situation which Fitz may or may not survive from. My bet is that Fritz will survive considering how Coulson and Skye came back after being in even worse shape. Their rescue once they got off the bottom of the ocean was too simple, but I doubt that many viewers cared at that point once distracted by the appearance of Nick Fury. There was no explanation as to where Fury got that medical team.

I wonder where the show will go next season with SHIELD disbanded. Nick Fury did  make Coulson the new head with instructions to restore the organization, but it is not clear how much that really means with Fury no longer having any authority (and presumed dead). At least the group has a new base, already supplied with a new Koenig, played again by Patton Oswalt. Is he a twin or a Life Model Decoy?

Much of the back story about TAHATI has now been explained, but there are still mysteries with Marvel fans tying the alien blood into other areas of the Marvel universe including the Kree and Inhumans. We will have to wait until next season to learn the meaning of what Coulson was drawing. Syke’s back story should also be explored more, especially now that it appears her father is alive.

The Americas s02e12

On The Americans, it is not entirely clear why Larrick is after Jared but he is close to finding him. Most likely he knows that the last tie to Emmet and Leanne will either allow him to find those helping him or be useful bait for those he is really after. Regardless of Larrick’s plans, there is no doubt to Elizabeth and Phillp that Jared is in danger because of his parents, potentially placing their own children in the same type of danger.

It is rare to have a show where the storyline involving secondary characters can be every bit as interesting as when the leads are on screen. This is the case with Stan and Nina. Instead of turning to Stan to save her, we learned that Nina was still working with the Russians to trick Stan into turning over the Echo program. If Nina was smarter, and not currently as loyal to Russia, she might have immediately told Stan that he had to get her elsewhere to hide as opposed to allowing Arkady to put on his show. Contrary to how he initially appeared, Oleg has turned out to be the one most concerned with saving Nina. If Stan doesn’t turn over Echo, it is questionable if the Russians would give her an opportunity to get away with the money which Oleg gave her.

Other characters were very perceptive this week. Henry was right to be concerned about how The Wrath of Kahn would turn out after the first Star Trek movie, but he will learn there was nothing to worry about. Two other characters showed that they aren’t completely fooled. Paige questioned what type of emergency Elizabeth could have as a travel agent requiring her to run out at night. It is hard to believe that she won’t eventually figure out what is going on. Will she accept what her parents are doing as Jared has regarding his parents? Martha figured out that Clark wears a toupee, even if she is foolish enough to turn all those documents over to him. Perhaps she will ultimately take the blame for the documents which Stan gave to Oleg, helping Stan to remain above suspicion.

Revenge

Revenge did a reboot as major as that on Person of Interest. It was about time, as they had dragged out the storyline about Emily seeking revenge on the Graysons for framing her father for far too long. Reducing the number of characters should also help as things have become far too convoluted. It will take a good story to explain how Emily’s father has been alive all these years, and it will be interesting to see her reaction to finding that he is alive. He better have a good explanation for not contacting her before now. E! Online has an answer to the bigger question as to where the show is going next season:

That #Revenge finale was INSANITY! Is the show really going to be Victoria as the revenge-seeker now?
From what we know, yes. Emily will be living in Grayson Manor and Victoria will be the one narrating the show and out for revenge, wanting to take down Emily/Amanda and make her pay for everything she lost. Pretty big game-changer! And by the way, we hear another main character will be written out next season. Perhaps the biggest cast departure yet.

Of course Emily will still have reason to see revenge after the murder of Aiden, and it is hard to imagine a bigger departure than Conrad (assuming he is really dead). More on Revenge at The Hollywood Reporter.

Alison-Brie

There is a huge amount of other news this week regarding renewals, cancellations, and new shows in addition to all the finales. I’ll hold off on news related to next season for another week when there isn’t so much other material to write about and end with just a few briefs.

Unless they manage to revive Community for a sixth season on another network, it appears we will not see more of Alison Brie on television now that it appears that Pete Campbell moved on to California without her on Mad Men. Alison Brie will be staring with others better known for their television roles in an upcoming movie Sleeping With Other People:

Former “SNL” star Jason Sudeikis, “Community’s” Alison Brie and “Parks and Recreation’s” Adam Scott are assembling for the upcoming comedy from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.

Amanda Peet, Jason Mantzoukas and Natasha Lyonne will also star in the film from producers Adam McKay and Will Ferrell.

“Sleeping” centers on two chronic cheaters — played by Sudeikis and Brie — who attempt a non-sexual relationship in order to conquer their lustful ways. The press release says it’s “in the vein of ‘When Harry Met Sally’…but with assholes.

Update: Pete Campbell made a trip to New York this week and Alison Brie did appear.

Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones and Nicholas Hoult of X-Men: Days of Future Past  will play Bonnie and Clyde in Go Down Together.

A former porn star writing at The Daily Beast gave some reasons why Game of Thrones might like to use porn stars:

1. A porn star is always willing to take off her clothes and there will never be a nudity clause in her contract.

2. They’ve put in their 10,000 hours and know how to fake passionate sex with the best of ‘em.

3. It’s sad but true: porn stars work cheap! Since nude is their norm, they won’t ask to be paid extra to be naked.

4. In a way that mainstream actresses sometimes fail to capture, porn stars always look very comfortable sitting around nude for the duration of a scene.

5. With all of that skin-on-skin action, things, well, pop up. Porn stars aren’t squeamish about their fellow actors getting aroused. They tend to be very understanding.

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In somewhat related news from another premium cable network, former Doctor Who star Billie Piper promises “loads of sex” in Penny Dreadful.

The winners of the 2013 Nebula Award winners have been announced. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie won as best novel. Gravity won the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation. While Gravity beat The Day of the Doctor for this award, the episode of Doctor Who did win a BAFTA Television Award for Radio Times Audience Award (Voted For By Members Of The Public). Broadchurch won a BAFTA as Best Drama. Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson won awards for their roles in The IT Crowd.

Terra Nova was one of many science fiction shows which did not survive long on Fox (including Almost Human this season). Those interested in dinosaurs in the real world as opposed to the fictional world of Terra Nova might be interested in this report on the biggest dinosaur ever.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Orphan Black; Hannibal; Agents of SHIELD; The Blacklist; The Americans; Fargo; Mad Men; How I Met Your Mother/Dad; Game of Thrones; The Newsroom

Arrow Moira

This week’s Arrow, Seeing Red, deserves the lead for including a change to the show almost as significant as the recent change on Agents of SHIELD and for  psychological horror inflicted upon the main character as disturbing as what we would expect from Hannibal. Initially viewers probably thought that the red in the episode title referred to Roy’s red hood as the Mirakuru had him go on a rampage. Instead the significance of the episode was how it ended with blood.

In retrospect it is clear the episode was both providing a farewell to Moira Queen and making her sacrifice plausible by concentrating on her love for her children. Susanna Thompson will certainly be missed. She dealt with Oliver getting a girl pregnant in a flashback, and in the main story almost dropped out of the race for mayor to try to repair her relationship with Thea. The only reason she remained in the race was the thought that it might help Thea more by being in the role of someone helping the city.

Late in the episode I thought the cliff hanger was going to be the secret Moira was about o tell about Malcolm Merlin when their car was hit, but the real drama of this week’s episode was still to come. Slade recreated the scene in the island with Sara and Shado, this time demanding that Oliver decide between Moira and Thea. Moira spared Oliver from making the decision in sacrificing herself. Slade ran his sword through her heart, telling her that he respected her courage, and saying that one more person still had to die. Is Felicity now in danger?

While Moira’s death was the major change in the show, there were others, such as the change to Roy. Now that it is established that Oliver has a son in Central City, there is no doubt that this will come up again, perhaps creating another connection to The Flash. I found it surprising that Sara would leave Oliver at a time of such danger and perhaps this will cause her to return, hopefully with reinforcements among her assassin friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sara dies in the final battle against Slade, or as his final planned last victim, leaving the way open for Laurel to become the Black Canary as in the comics (or perhaps they will differ from the comics on this matter indefinitely).

arrow seeing-red-moira-dead

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg about Moira’s death:

“It wasn’t something we were talking about last year. I don’t want to give the impression that [it was like] ‘Welp! Somebody has to die; let’s spin the wheel. And, bad luck, Moira,’ ” he further explained. “Susanna has been with the show since the beginning, and she was one of our big gets early on that really signaled to the audience and to reviewers that this wasn’t your average CW show, it wasn’t your average superhero show. Like with Colin Donnell [whose character Tommy died in the season-one finale], these last episodes are her pinnacle.”

At the end of the day, the decision came down to the finite number of directions Moira’s story could go. From the producers’ perspectives, it seemed they had exhausted nearly all their options. After all, Moira was a part of the Undertaking, went to jail as punishment, ran for Starling City mayor, kept the identity of Thea’s biological father a secret and knew of Oliver’s Arrow life. And that’s just the half of it. “When we were talking about the future, knowing that it was only going to be powerful if Slade was going to change the game by doing something truly monstrous — if Moira wins the mayorship, if she makes up with her kids, what is Moira without a giant secret?” Kreisberg said. “If they all forgive her, and then there’s some other giant secret, for us it felt like we were becoming a soap opera.”

By allowing Moira the opportunity to sacrifice herself for her kids, “she could die a hero’s death,” he said. Even though she’s attempted to turn over a new leaf, just seconds before the car accident, Moira was about to reveal yet another secret. “You can’t change her. She literally goes to the grave despite the fact that she sacrifices herself for her children,” Kreisberg said, hinting that Moira’s final secret plays out “sooner than you think.”

Next week’s episode, “City of Blood,” opens with Moira’s funeral — and Oliver is missing. “There’s a line in the next episode where Walter says to Thea, ‘Your mother showed you how much she loved you in ways few parents can,’ and yet she was still lying,” Kreisberg previewed. “Ending it at this time left you with that great feeling of what a great character she was rather then let her become a caricature.”

As Oliver and Thea head into the thick of the storm, their personal loss drives them for the rest of the series. “That was the math — it was horrible math, it was tearful math but her death has a profound impact on everyone on the series,” Kreisberg promised. “It’s certainly what’s going to drive Oliver in these last three episodes. It’s going to drive Thea, not only in these last three episodes, but also into [season] three. Sometimes the worst thing you can do personally is the best thing you can do professionally.”

But it was Moira’s surprising admission that she knew of Oliver’s secret life as the vigilante that was eyebrow-raising. “We had always talked about the idea that Moira knew Oliver was the Arrow,” Kreisberg said, revealing that there were “a couple of other places” where the producers thought Moira should inform Oliver. But he pointed to a pivotal scene in “Sacrifice,” where Oliver essentially talks to his mother as the Arrow amid the Undertaking, as her moment of revelation. “She’d be borderline low IQ if she wasn’t like, ‘Wait a minute!’ We liked that she had never told him, and everything just felt like it came together in this one episode.”

Arrow wasn’t done with the bombshells. It was revealed in flashbacks that Oliver had fathered a child before his time on the island and that Moira paid the woman $1 million to disappear and lie about losing the baby. “The seeds for season two were planted in season one and again, the best part of the success that the show has had is knowing that we were going to make more and knowing that we could drop these things in and pay them off later,” Kreisberg said. “This is something that will be paid off in season three.”

Orphan_Black_Episode_2_Donnie_Allison

Watching Orphan Black is essentially a matter of finding answers to questions and then having still more questions. Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion had Sarah searching for Kira, Alison looking into the identity of her monitor, and Cosima looking into their genome for explanations about her illness and why Sarah is the only one of the clones who can have children. We also learned more about Helena and the Prolethians.

I was happy to see that Sarah’s search for Kira was resolved without dragging it out for several weeks. They made good use of the relationship between Sarah and Kira by having Kira make the final decision to run after Kira told her things did not feel right. The episode included the return of Mrs. S, who we were given reason to be suspicious of late in the first season. Mrs. S’s motivations appeared questionable at one point, but ultimately it was her “friends” from the old network who previously helped them disappear who were deceiving them and at it does look like Mrs. S really has been on Sarah’s side as she claimed.

Allison looked like she might fall apart after realizing she was mistaken in thinking Aynsley was her monitor and not acting to save her from choking. She wound up working far better with Felix than we would have guessed from Allison’s initial introduction first season. They managed to trap Donnie, who isn’t the brightest of Leekie’s people, by having him overhear a conversation about meeting Sarah, who turned out to be a different Sarah from her community play. I’m not sure about a play with lines such as “We must heed the call, picking the brains off the wall,” but remain glad that it is not Cats.

While Cosima’s major role is to look into the science, her most notable scene was meeting Rachel, who was assaulted by Sarah pretending to be Cosima last week. “I’m Cosima. The real Cosima. Not the one who kicked your ass or whatever.” Rachel acknowledged seeing Cosima kiss Delphine by saying  “So, you’re gay?” with Cosima responding, “My sexuality is not the most interesting thing about me.”

Orphan Black henrik

We also learned that Helena survived a shot to the heart thanks to dextrocardia, or in her case being a mirror image of her twin Sarah. We have a new sect of Prolethians who have a different view of the clones, and no qualms about killing those who do not follow their views. The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Peter Outerbridge, who plays new Prolethian leader Henrik Johansson:

Henrik has a line in this episode where he says Helena’s existence is “God opening a whole new door,” which seems to sum up his motivations, his beliefs and his desires pretty well.

Exactly. He doesn’t see the clones as an abomination at all. He thinks they’re fascinating. In fact, perhaps the next phase in evolution. If that’s the case, it’s all part of God’s plan and he’s going to a part of it.

Is Henrik’s assessment of the clones correct? Is this a question that toggles between right and wrong for much of the season, or is there a gray area?

That’s always the case when you’re talking about big issues like this. The idea of cloning human beings has been on the decade for at least a decade now and the ethics behind it are questionable. Bottom line, if you were to clone a human being in a laboratory, does that constitute a soul? Does that constitute a human being? Or because it’s created by humans it’s a manufactured thing that we can [use] to do whatever we want? Is the clone property because the laboratory made it or once its born, does it have free will and is it its own thing? That’s what the show is exploring. Henrik has cut through the ethics by saying, “Look, the clones are here on the planet, so I’m going to embrace that and I’m going to say that it’s part of the whole plan and I’m going to be its chief advocate.”

We learn at the end of the episode that Henrik’s prime reason for wanting Helena is simple: He believes she can conceive, like Sarah.

One of the definitions of life is something that is able to recreate itself. Something like a rock can’t recreate itself so we say we say a rock doesn’t have a life force to it. But as soon as an organism is able to replicate and duplicate, and recreate itself, we define that as having some sort of life to it in terms of organic life. That gets even stranger when you get into species because in order for it to be a species, it has to be able to procreate. If a clone can’t procreate, it’s not a legitimate species, ergo it’s not really a part of the planet. Henrik is fascinated with the idea that if he can find another clone that is capable of conceiving like Sarah — the whole question is, is Sarah the clone or is Sarah the original and the fact she has a daughter suggests she’s the original — then it’s a legitimate species and a legitimate creation. That’s what he becomes fascinated with and that’s what he finds with Helena.

What is Henrik’s ultimate end goal if Helena can do that?

There is an endgame, but it’s simpler, it’s not so sinister as world domination. It’s more megalomaniac than that. He wants to be a part of the new wave of humanity. Once he finds a clone that’s capable of conceiving — he thinks that’s the spiritual movement — he is going to be the father of all of these children.

Hannibal - Season 2

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Shiizakana, dealt with how Hannibal dehumanizes and manipulates other people, including making them kill. Thanks to this episode I also learned that dire wolves are extinct animals which actually existed, and not just creations of Game of Thrones. Besides manipulating Randall Tier, the protagonist in the case of the week, we saw Hannibal manipulating Margo, who then compared notes with fellow Hannibal victim Will Graham.

Hannibal told Randall Tier what to say to avoid arrest by the FBI and then sent him to his death by having him attack Will. Will saw this as Hannibal repeating his attempt to hill him while Will was in prison. “I sent someone to kill you. You sent someone to kill me. Even Stevens.”I thought that Hannibal’s goal was not to actually have Will killed but to force Will to kill, perhaps to further bring out the monster in Will. Bryan Fuller had this to say about the scene in which Hannibal nods after Will gave the above line, appearing to acknowledge his actions to Will”

AVC: When Hannibal makes that tiny nod at the end of the episode, do you see that as a tacit admission of guilt or is it just him saying, “That’s certainly one theory”?

BF: [Episode] nine really starts an arc that will reach a crescendo in 12, which is one of our best episodes of the season. I just think it’s fantastic and bonkers and hilarious and deeply disturbing. So the end of nine is sort of the beginning of 10, and it’s answered very quickly at the top of the next episode, but it absolutely is an acknowledgment, “Yeah, I sent him to do this. Yeah, you did exactly what I thought you were going to do. And now we can have a conversation,” which we will have at the beginning of the next episode.

The Backlot interviewed Bryan Fuller about descriptions of the show as homoerotic, rooting for the villain on television, and prospects of returning for a third season.

SHIELD Skye Ward

Agents of SHIELD wasted Amy Acker’s talents in a (super) villain of the week storyline, with this mainly serving the purpose of getting a few members of the team away so that Ward and Skye would be alone after Ward killed Koenig (Patton Oswalt). Fortunately Person of Interest makes much better use of Amy Acker.

Ward faked his way through a lie detector exam by doing far more than Nina did in squeezing her anus to pass a more primitive polygraph exam on a recent episode of The Americans. We also learned what each cast member would want if stranded on an island. Simmons had the best idea with the TARDIS. Chloe Bennet did the strongest acting in the episode, quickly progressing from being terrified when she learned about Ward to deceiving him, and setting up the cliff hanger of the two flying off together.

While only half of this episode really worked, the series might be off to a strong finish for the season. Cobie Smulders returns next week as Maria Hill, and is expected to be seen more regularly assuming the show returns next season now that she is no longer busy on How I Met Your Mother. TV Guide summarized the season finale which airs May 13:

Now that Hydra has revealed themselves and S.H.I.E.L.D. has been disbanded, Coulson and his team are on their own to take down the now-missing Clairvoyant. But how will they react when they learn Ward is actually a member of Hydra planted in their group? The finale will address Ward’s true allegiances as well as answer questions about Skye’s lineage, who’s controlling Deathlok and what the Clairvoyant wants with Coulson. “We think the audience is waiting for a showdown between Coulson’s team and Garrett’s team and they’re going to get a satisfying payoff to that epic conclusion,” executive producer Jeffrey Bell says, hinting there could be other sleepers. “If they win, it comes at a price.” Plus: Nick Fury returns!

Blacklist Lizzie Knows

I was happy to see the story advance more rapidly on The Blacklist. Once it was definitely revealed to the audience that Lizzie’s husband is not what he seems, it didn’t take long for Lizzie to figure it out. This week he realized that Lizzie knows, and the episode ended with a major cliff hanger. Speakeasy has some theories as to what Lizzie found in the safe deposit box.

The Americans went to the Contra training base and received so much assistance from Oliver North on the episode that he received a writing credit. Philip also took on the church which Paige has been attending, but I questioned if it was wise for an undercover agent to risk drawing attention to himself in such a manner. There was more of Martha at work. Stan’s biggest scene was in asking American scientists about their secrets to prevent them from being compromised, unaware of how he has become compromised.

I wouldn’t expect the second episode of Fargo to be as good as the first, considering all that happened, but it still left me optimistic that this will be an excellent series.

I did like the second episode of the season of Mad Men better than the first. While Don Draper has his faults, I do hope he recovers, and was happy to see him improve his relationship with Sally by being honest with her.

Last Forever Part One

Alyson Hannigan described a cut scene from the finale of How I Met Your Mother (which I reviewed here):

Speaking with TVLine at Friday night’s Taste for a Cure event in Los Angeles, HIMYM vet Alyson Hannigan said that the finale that aired last month was some 18 minute shorters than the script they worked off of at a “perfect” table read. “But [the full script] was also much more heart-wrenching,” she shared, “which maybe people wouldn’t have liked.”

Among the deleted scenes was what Hannigan described as a “one-second” montage of title character Tracy’s funeral. Instead, viewers only learned from Narrator Ted that the kids’ mother had become ill, then passed away — some time before he decided to rekindle things with their “Aunt” Robin.

“Honestly, if you saw [that] cut, it would be even more heart-wrenching than what the finale was,” Hannigan noted. “They were like, ‘No. It’s just too gut-wrenching.’ And I was like, ‘That’s what I want. I want my heart ripped out and slammed on the floor and, like, stomped on!’”

Hannigan also believes that missing moment “would have been better for the audience, so that then they can process, ‘Oh, [Ted] mourned. He got closure’ — and then they’d be happy that [he and Robin] got together. Rather than be like, ‘Oh, wait. She died? What? They’re together, huh?’ And credits. That’s what I think was too fast.”

Meg Ryan has been cast to be the future voice of the lead character in the spin off, How I Met Your Dad. I’m not sure of the point of a different person playing the narrator. Ted Mosby still had the same voice in the final scene of How I Met Your Mother which took place after telling the story to his kids.

The rape scene by Joffrey’s body in last week’s Game of Thrones was controversial, between the circumstances and the manner in which the scene was changed from consensual sex in the book to rape. I discussed this further in a separate post.

Aaron Sorkin has apologized to those who misinterpreted a decision he made on The Newsroom:

“I think you and I got off on the wrong foot with The Newsroom and I apologize and I’d like to start over,” Sorkin told the audience at a Tribeca Film Festival event Monday, referencing the criticism over his choice to set the show in the recent past. “I think that there’s been a terrible misunderstanding. … I wasn’t trying to and I’m not capable of teaching a professional journalist a lesson. That wasn’t my intent and it’s never my intent to teach you a lesson or try to persuade you or anything.”

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Arrow; Continuum; Doctor Who; 12 Monkeys; The Wil Wheaton Project; The Americans; The Big Bang Theory Does Star Wars; How I Met Your Mother Ends In The Darkest Timeline

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With Futamono, we are about half way through the second season of Hannibal, and some people are beginning to suspect that bad things are happening to people around the title character. We know that he will be exposed by the end of the season, but at the moment he is a sort of Superman who is able to outsmart almost everyone and evade detection. He can even manage to get Abel Gideon out of the psychiatric institution in order to have him over for what is probably his last meal. (“You intend me to be my own last supper?”)Fortunately for Gideon, he is insane himself and can be witty while being served his own leg. Bryan Fuller explained why Gideon suffered this type of fate:

 I think part of the reason he meets the horrible fate that he does was the symmetry. Here he is, a guy who claimed to be the Chesapeake Ripper and was the grand pretender to the throne. For him to both become the Chesapeake Ripper and the Chesapeake Ripper’s victim felt like there was a certain poetry that Hannibal would appreciate. We see in episode five, Abel Gideon really goes out of his way to save Hannibal Lecter from Will Graham, but more importantly, save Will Graham from Will Graham by preventing Will from taking a life out of malice. We see that there is a humanity to him and an understanding and even a sympathy for Will Graham and his plight. So as Beverly Katz has carved the path for all of those who believe Will Graham in any capacity, he had to go down the same chute.

It appeared that Jack might obtain some evidence about Hannibal when he finally paid attention to Will’s theories: “If the Ripper is killing, you can bet Hannibal Lecter is having a dinner party. You and I probably sipped wine while swallowing the people who who we were trying to give justice, Jack.” Jack took some food from one of Hannibal’s dinner parties to be tested. Hannibal outsmarted Jack that night as the beef really was wagyu beef (which really is delicious).

While there was not conclusive evidence against Hannibal, there was evidence showing that both the Chesapeake Ripper and the alleged copycat who continued after Will’s incarceration were the same killer, proving it could not be Will. I did not expect to see Will go free until much later in the season. (Can I still wear my Free Will Graham t-shirt?) There was also a piece of rare tree bark which led to the discovery of Miriam Lass, the young FBI agent who figured out Hannibal’s secret in a first season flash back. Surprisingly she is still alive, but is missing an arm.  From the interspersed scenes with Hannibal, I suspect that the discovery of Miriam was a planned move on his part and there is not enough of her mind left after all these years to incriminate him. Coincidentally, Anna Chlumsky returns to Hannibal the same weekend she also returns to television on a new season of Veep.

Hannibal - Season 2

Seeing Hannibal seduce and drug Alana was as chilling as the scenes with Gideon. While her fate (so far) is not as terrible, we have far more invested in her character. For the purposes of this episode, sleeping with Alana provided an alibi for Hannibal capturing Gideon. Television sedatives work wonderfully, with the victim being guaranteed to neither wake up or realize anything was unusual during the night. Next we presumably will see the consequences of a newly freed Will finding that while Jack might now be open to his theories, Alana is almost literally sleeping with the devil.

Dr. Chilton seems to be the smartest one after Will in Hannibal’s circles. He both figured out the rhyme (“They’ll call him Hannibal the Cannibal; he does fit the profile”) and revealed that he only eats salads when dining with Dr. Lecter. He also theorized that Hannibal “is attracted to medical and psychological fields because they offer power over man. Cannibalism…cannibalism is one act of dominance.”

Seeing Hannibal wink at Chilton was enough to suggest he may be doomed, but there would also be some justice in keeping him alive to see Hannibal’s downfall. There has to be someone left to begin treatment of Hannibal once he takes Will’s place in the hospital for the criminally insane. Besides, unlike Miriam Lass and Beverly Katz, Chilton is not likely to allow himself to be alone with Hannibal Lecter.

Arrow Deathstroke

Arrow had yet another strong episode with Deathstroke. It was a key episode for Thea, who is now angry at Oliver after Slade revealed that Oliver was keeping secret the fact that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) was really her father. I had expected the secret was going to be about Oliver on the island and now being the Arrow. We never saw how Slade also knew about Malcolm Merlyn, but it does not contradict anything we have seen for him to have discovered this on his own.

Poor Oliver, now being blamed by Thea for keeping the same secret which he was now become estranged from his mother over. Speaking of secrets, if she knew the full story, Thea would also have good reason to be angry at Oliver for not warning anyone about how dangerous Slade was. If Oliver had said something when he showed up in their home, Thea might not have gotten into the car with him.  Having released Thea, it no longer appears that Slade has any interest in keeping his actions a secret. It seems like after this week, most of the secrets are out in the open.

Arrow Queen Industries

Not only has Oliver lost Thea, he has also lost control over his company as we learned that Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau),  who he had only planned to make CEO pro tempore, was also working with Slade.This is all part of Slade’s plan to take away everything from Oliver.

The episode ended with yet another cliff hanger. While he didn’t tell the secret I had expected him to tell to Thea, Slade did visit Laurel at the end to tell her that Oliver Queen is the Arrow.  Most likely this will change things, especially as her father’s freedom now depends upon him revealing the Arrow’s identity, but there is no guarantee she will believe Slade. After all, as I pointed out last week, she couldn’t even tell that her own sister was the Black Canary when sitting right next to her. Although common in the comics for a mask to be sufficient to hide one’s identity, the mask did very little to hide her face. If Laurel had encountered Sara at the beach wearing large sunglasses, which would cover as much of her face as the mask, would she be unable to recognize her? Just how much alcohol and drugs did that girl consume?

Continuum minute-by-minute

Continuum season three finally aired in the United States on Syfy with resolution of last season’s cliff hanger, answering some questions and raising new ones. Alec has gone back in time a week in hopes of saving Emily, creating a new timeline. I feel like I’m in yet another time jump, being three weeks ahead of where the show is in the United States by downloading the episodes after airing on Showcase. I will limit spoilers to the episode which aired in the United States and will avoid mentioning events of subsequent episodes which have aired.

Minute By Minute began with action scenes with Kiera (Rachel Nichols) and Garza working together to escape, but things got far more complicated with the timeline collapsing and the Freelancers sending Kiera (who has now joined up with them) to the new timeline created by Alec going back into the past. The episode deals with some of the central questions of the series regarding time travel but hardly settles anything.  If traveling in time creates a new timeline, does this mean that Kiera cannot ever return to the time she left? Perhaps the fact that the Freelancers could send her to the same timeline Alec had created suggests some ability to move between timelines and presents a mechanism by which Kiera could ultimately return to both the same time and timeline she came from.

The episode does suggest that the problems and paradoxes from time travel occur if one encounters another version of the same person. They eliminated one possibility of problems here by having the Kiera of the new timeline get killed, leaving only the problem of two Alecs. The suggestion is that one will lead to the future we saw while the other must be eliminated–not that it appears to be a desirable future. Kiera wants to return to her family, and fails to understand many of the problems of her own time. The Freelancers don’t have any interest in choosing which future is best, only wanting time to run its course as it should, but is there really one correct future timeline from the perspective of people in our time? (Might future Freelancers intervene to correct the timeline in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies?)

Possibly actions by people from the future might give some insight into how time travel works if we can assume that they really understood it. Now we know why Kagame made sure he died on the day he was born, understanding the consequences should he ever meet himself. I think the real key is that future Alec Sadler, having his memories of what happened in the past, must have had some master plan in sending both Liber8 and Kiera back in time. Presumably he had some goals based upon changing the conditions he created. However, will this really change the future he lives in, or just create a second and hopefully better timeline?

There are already some key changes in the new timeline with Escher dead, although now any death might not be permanent if there is the possibility of the show moving to yet another timeline. We no longer know Emily’s fate. Can Alec succeed in saving her, or must she be allowed to die to save the future, like Edith Keeler in the classic Star Trek episode, City on the Edge of Forever?  The final scene from last season with Carlos deciding to join Julian will probably never occur.  Hopefully changing timelines doesn’t turn into an easy cosmic reset switch.

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Steven Moffat has sort of given an answer to another time paradox–how the Doctor’s tomb can be on Trenzalore when he escaped his fate and wound up not dying there in The Time of the Doctor:

Moffat replies: “I’ve often wondered about that. Fortunately, late one night, the Doctor turned up in person and explained it to me:

“THE DOCTOR: Changing time is tricky. It’s a bit like a detective story: so as long there isn’t an actual body, you’ve got a certain amount of wiggle room – for instance, if the body has, rather conveniently, been burned on a boat in Utah.

“Here’s the thing: I can change the future so long as the future has not already been established as part of my own past. I can’t rescue Amy and Rory because I already know that I didn’t.

“But what do I know about Trenzalore? There’s a big monument that looks very like my TARDIS. There’s a temporal fissure leading to my timeline. Maybe it’s my grave. Maybe, one day, it’s my burial ground. Maybe it is something else entirely, and we got it all wrong. Don’t know. Don’t plan to find out for as long as possible. The main thing is, Clara still jumped into my time stream, and ended up helping me through all of my life. All that is established, unchanged – but there’s wiggle room!”

There will be additional time travel coming on Syfy. The network has picked up an adaptation of 12 Monkeys:

The cable network on Friday announced that its adaptation of the Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis feature film has been picked up to series with a 13-episode order for a January 2015 premiere.

Nikita’s Aaron Stanford and Suits’ Amanda Schull star in the drama based on Universal Pictures’ Terry Gilliam film. In Plain Sight’s Natalie Chaidez serves as showrunner on the drama about a time traveler from the post-apocalyptic future who appears in the present day on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will eventually decimate the human race.

Chris Hardwick's A Celebration Of "The Nerdist Way"

In addition, Syfy has picked up The Wil Wheaton Project:

Syfy has picked up 12 episodes of The Wil Wheaton Project (working title), which the actor-blogger has dubbed “sort of like Talk Soup for geeks.” The half-hour show, hosted by Wheaton, will allow the geek hero to dissect the week’s biggest stories in sci-pop culture with the witty commentary that has made him a social media star.

In his own words, Wheaton describes the show as a “weekly roundup of the things I love on television and on the Internet, with commentary and jokes, and the occasional visit from interesting people who make those things happen.” In a blog post, Wheaton gives a charming behind-the-scenes account of the year-long process that led to the series being greenlit; his enthusiasm for genre entertainment and insider status serve his audience well. ”We discovered that nobody was doing a show like this that was just focused on the genre shows that nerds like us love, and we decided that we’d make that show,” he writes.

The Wil Wheaton Project premieres May 27 at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.

The Americans Behind the Red Door

The Americans remain on the trail of the murders of the other spy couple in Behind The Red Door.  We learned why this is personal for Claudia, who might have let some information slip out while dating. There’s historical references to Reagan’s actions in Nicaragua. There’s also both discussion of the heroin overdose of John Belushi and a young agent using poisoned heroin to kill the Congressional aide to eliminate the risk of stolen material leading back to her.

The strongest scene of the episode might have been the aftermath of last week’s visit from Elizabeth to Martha. Elizabeth couldn’t get past  Martha’s talk of how wild Clark was in bed and wound up regretting forcing Philip to remain in the Clark role. Initially it seemed that what Martha found wild was the usual for Elizabeth, but then Phillip went further when Elizabeth seemed disappointed.

Meanwhile Oleg is making matters far more complicated for Stan and Nina, trying to turn Stan into a double agent. This week we saw primitive 1980’s technology, a dot matrix printer, used to print out reports. Next week we will see if Nina can fool 1980’s lie detector technology.

Big Bang Star Wars

The Big Bang Theory will be airing a Star Wars themed episode which also includes the return of Bob Newhart as Professor Proton:

CBS’ The Big Bang Theory is teaming with Lucasfilm for an epic Star Wars episode timed to Star Wars Day, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

In “The Proton Transmogrification” — the episode set to air May 1 and timed to the annual May 4 Star Wars Day — the gang gets together to celebrate the annual geek holiday, while Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is guided by visions of his childhood idol and mentor, Professor Proton (Emmy winner Bob Newhart), who appears to the socially challenged genius as his own Jedi master.

For those not in the know, Star Wars Day is recognized every year on May 4, with the traditional celebratory greeting being “May the fourth be with you” — a play on Star Wars’ famed “May the Force be with you” line. Fans across the globe celebrate the film franchise with screenings and special events.

For the episode, the CBS comedy teamed with a group of special effects technicians from Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic to re-create Dagobah — the remote world of swamps and forest that served as a refuge for Yoda during his exile — and provide props for the episode, including a light saber. Lucasfilm experts consulted on the episode and visited the Big Bang Theory set to oversee the production, with the final touches completed at its San Francisco headquarters.

Last Forever Part One

How I Met Your Mother was a remarkable sitcom. It was the best ensemble show of young people in New York despite multiple attempts at this theme following the end of Friends. It did a far better job of telling a story by jumping around in time like Lost than any of the more explicit genre attempts to follow Lost. Unfortunately, instead of being, wait for it, legendary, the finale was a huge disappointment to most fans. If this was Community, the series would have ended in the Darkest Timeline.Fortunately the shock of Tracy’s death was made bearable by advance warnings in fan theories which turned out to be true.

We knew that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas would have some twist planned considering how the series began, but hoped they had something tricker planned than having the Mother die leaving Ted free to wind up with Aunt Robin. Upon reading that they had filmed the ending with the children during the second season so that they wouldn’t appear too old when the series ended, I feared that this is how they would end the show, but still held out hope that they understood the changes in their own show and would come up for a better ending.

During the second season, when the scene was filmed, this certainly made sense. For years the show centered around Ted and Robin and during that time I did suspect that the twist at the end of the pilot was a diversion and that the two really did wind up together, even if someone else was the mother of Ted’s children. The final scene, with Ted going over to Robin’s apartment carrying the Blue French Horn, with Robin’s dogs in the window, was a recreation of a scene from the pilot when Ted returned to Robin’s apartment after failing to kiss her goodnight the first time. (He also missed the signs and failed to kiss her whens he returned–but just  rewatch it on Netflix if you don’t remember the details).

himym blue french horn

However, over the course of nine years the characters changed. If they had stayed the same, it would have been fine if they used this ending. It is also fine that the people changed, but that required a different ending for the show. By the end, Ted and Robin were no longer Ross and Rachel.

Sure there were plenty of clues in the final episodes as Robin had moments when she said Ted was the one she should have wound up with while Ted finally looked ready to move on. However the final season was more about the couples of Ted/Tracy and Barney/Robin. The Mother was no longer just a MacGuffin to propel the story of Ted and Robin. Thomas and Bays did too good a job of making the fans fall in love with Tracy (whose name we didn’t learn until the final episode), and see that she was really the perfect girl for Ted. They also made us accept and welcome the implausible marriage of Barney and Robin.

If the show ended a year or more earlier, as expected, and an unknown woman, or perhaps Victoria, had married Ted but died after having their children, we could have accepted that as a plausible ending and might have been happy that Ted wound up with Robin. Killing off Tracy was a totally different matter. Thomas and Bays should have realized that the evolution in their characters required a different ending than had been planned back in the second season.

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Besides being the wrong ending for where the characters had evolved to, the timing for the show now felt wrong. We spent the entire final season seeing the weekend when Robin and Barney got married, and then their marriage fell apart in a quick sequence in the final moments of the finale (which was a huge clue as to where they were going). They left us wanting to see so much more of Tracy and Ted but all too quickly she became sick, and that was that. She pretty much died off screen just as she spent most of her life. If they were going to have her die, she at least deserved a longer exit. It was as if Love Story was all about Ryan O’Neil and past girl friends and then Ali MacGraw appeared in the final five minutes and stole the movie.

Being television, an ending is not necessarily the absolute end. I had thought earlier in the week that if this was the ending they originally filmed, the smarter thing would have been to film a new ending which was consistent with where the show was this season, and then add the original ending as an extra on the season DVD. Instead the went with the wrong ending but reportedly they cut a happier ending to add as a DVD extra. There is also a spin off of the series planned, but I suspect the ending to HIMYM will always haunt Thomas and Bays as fans will now fear that the new series might turn out to be How I Killed Your Dad.

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Sleepy Hollow; Arrow; SHIELD; DC Movie Plans; The Americans; The Blacklist; Scarlett Johansson Gets Superpowers; Groundhog Day;Death of the Rani; How I Met Your Mother Finale

Hannibal Murkozuke

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Mukozuke, had Jack Crawford viewing Beverly’s sliced body. Bryan Fuller described Hannibal breaking her down as being like how Beverly would break down a crime scene. Her murder had major effects on several characters, especially Will Graham who was driven to have Hannibal killed in revenge. He found a clever way to attempt this despite being incarcerated, finding his admirer who killed the bailiff (in an attempt to provide evidence that Will was not the Chesapeake Ripper) using Freddy Lounds.

This was a dangerous move on Will’s part as it could reinforce the idea held by others that Will is the murderer and Hannibal has been the victim of his slurs. I suspect that Will’s vision of dripping blood might represent realization that he was wrong to attempt murder. At least he was unsuccessful and does not actually have blood on his hands. Will didn’t even bother to tell others this week that Hannibal killed Grace, even when viewing her body in the restraints we were more accustomed to seeing Hannibal wearing in Silence of the Lambs,  presumably preferring that they figure it out for themselves. The preview from next week’s episode does suggest that Jack is starting to investigate Hannibal, and we saw in the season premiere how that will turn out.

I wonder if Hannibal will actually have more respect for Will for taking this action, and if he will take pride in being successful in driving Will to attempt murder (even if it had to be by proxy).

I was fearful that having Will in the asylum all season would limit his role, but episodes such as this show how he can remain fully part of the show. Having Abel Gideon as his asylum mate now presents yet another way for Jack to have significant dialog beyond being limited to FBI visitors.

There have been accusations of racism and sexism raised against Bryan Fuller due to the manner in which Beverly Katz was treated as an expendable character. Hetteinne Park, who played Beverly, defended Fuller here.

Sleepy Hollow Cast

News on the second season of Sleepy Hollow from PaleyFest can be found here. Among the news, it sounds like one of the cliff hangers at the end of the first season will not  be settled quickly:

There’s a New Sheriff in Town: Literally Orci teases, “There’s a new sheriff in town. Obviously, Irving has been discredited and now he’s been taken Upstate, so the Sleepy Hollow Police Department still has to be run by somebody and that person may not be as open as Irving was by the end of the season with Abbie and Crane. So somebody may be making their life very difficult.”

Orlando Jones is definitely not down with the new Sheriff, even making his own t-shirt, which said, “Free Frank Irving.” (Yes, he’s the best.)

There will also be fifteen or more episodes next season.

Arrow Birds of Prey

Jessica de Gouw returned as Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress on Arrow, tying up the storyline of the relationship between Helena and her father, leaving the character free to move in other directions. Caity Lotz was a second Bird of Prey as the Black Canary.

It appears that Laurel’s drug use has affected the powers of observation in Katie Cassidy’s character. Despite the two speaking while sitting as closely together as in the picture above, Laurel did not recognize that Black Canary is her sister Sara. It is a theme taken from the comics to have a tiny mask be enough to hide a superhero’s identity, but this was hard to believe in this scene. I also wonder if having the two meet is a first step towards Laurel ultimately becoming the Black Canary as in the comics, or if this something which the comics and television show will always differ on.

The episode also ended with quite a cliff hanger. More here, including why they killed off Helena’s father:

On why they killed Helena’s father:
Guggenheim: We definitely went into this with, “We’ve got to wrap up the whole Helena and her father storyline.” The one thing we were agreed upon in the writer’s room from the get-go was that Frank could not survive the episode. We had to end that story and close that chapter of Helena’s life so we could start a new chapter for her. … We definitely have an idea for a season 3 episode with the Huntress.

De Gouw: I think how this episode ends just puts her into a completely different headspace…and I think it’s opened up a whole new set of possibilities for her because she was so set on one path and now that it has been realized that that’s not what she wanted, it just frees her up for an entirely different life.

On whether The Huntress is redeemable:
De Gouw: I think most people are. And I think the place she’s at at the end of this episode, she’s certainly in a place where she can be redeemed…I think that it will be very interesting to explore her fighting for good or for very different reasons. But I think [she] definitely [is].

Amy Acker SHIELD The Cellist

The addition of Amy Acker as a regular has greatly strengthened Person of Interest, including on this week’s episode. Hopefully her presence, even if more limited, can also help Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. improve. Acker has been cast as Agent Coulson’s former cellist girlfriend, Audrey.

DC might have the best superhero television series on the air, but is far behind Marvel in big screen success. The New York Times interviewed Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who wants to be more aggressive in taking on Marvel:

The studio has been painfully slow to establish a slate of films based on DC Comics characters like Wonder Woman and the Flash, watching as Disney’s Marvel Entertainment churns out one superhero hit after another…

As for DC Entertainment, cross-studio collaboration to make better use of its comic book characters appears to have accelerated considerably since Mr. Tsujihara took over, in part because he eliminated some management layers. (He has not named a chief operating officer and did not replace Mr. Rosenblum and Mr. Robinov, choosing instead to divide up their duties and assume some himself.) Two new television shows are coming to the CW and Fox, including one based on the Flash and another on a young Batman, and a film series will be announced in the near future, Mr. Tsujihara said. It is expected to include a “Justice League” movie.

Underscoring his aggressive approach to the DC Comics universe, Mr. Tsujihara and Dan Fellman, Warner’s domestic film distribution chief, recently moved the studio’s untitled Batman-Superman movie — a hotly anticipated follow-up to last year’s “Man of Steel” — to a release date in May 2016 previously claimed by Marvel for one of its own films. It created an industry dust-up, and Marvel retaliated with a date change of its own. But the move sent a blunt message: Warner takes a back seat to no one.

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In other notable television moments of the week, Philip seemed really evil on The Americans when he sent the poor physicist home while Elizabeth did a great job smoothing over things with Martha. I do think that Phillip and the Mossad agent did have mutual respect for each other as each did what they knew they would do if in the position of the other.

On The Blacklist I was glad to see that once they revealed to the audience what we already suspected about Tom, they didn’t wait long to have Lizzie also figure out the truth about him.

Lucy

Scarlett Johansson gets superpowers in Lucy. From Entertainment Weekly:

Don’t do drugs, kids…unless said drugs transform your neurological makeup to give you superhero-level mind powers. That’s what happens in Luc Besson’s action thriller 
Lucy (out Aug. 8), starring Scarlett Johansson as a young woman who turns the tables on those exploiting her when experimental drugs give her hyperpowered ass-kicking abilities. “I love to see a woman as a very strong character,” says Besson (The Professional and La Femme Nikita). “It’s like cooking: sugar with a 
 bit of salt, and Lucy definitely can get salty.” Keep your eyes peeled for the trailer, which is scheduled to hit iTunes on April 2.

Groundhog Day

I don’t agree with all of Charles Murray’s Advice For A Happy Life, but I do agree with watching Groundhog Day:

The movie “Groundhog Day” was made more than two decades ago, but it is still smart and funny. It is also a brilliant moral fable that deals with the most fundamental issues of virtue and happiness, done with such subtlety that you really need to watch it several times.

An egocentric TV weatherman played by Bill Murray is sent to Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover Groundhog Day. He hates the assignment, disdains the town and its people, and can’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh. But a snowstorm strikes, he’s stuck in Punxsutawney, and when he wakes up the next morning, it is Groundhog Day again. And again and again and again.

The director and co-writer Harold Ramis, whose death last month was mourned by his many fans, estimated that the movie has to represent at least 30 or 40 years’ worth of days. We see only a few dozen of them, ending when Bill Murray’s character has discovered the secrets of human happiness.

Without the slightest bit of preaching, the movie shows the bumpy, unplanned evolution of his protagonist from a jerk to a fully realized human being—a person who has learned to experience deep, lasting and justified satisfaction with life even though he has only one day to work with.

You could learn the same truths by studying Aristotle’s “Ethics” carefully, but watching “Groundhog Day” repeatedly is a lot more fun.

Kate O’Mara, The Rani, died today. There was no regeneration. Above is a scene from Doctor Who: The Mark of the Rani from 1985. Besides her role on Doctor Who as a renegade Time Lady, she is also known for her roles on Dynasty and Absolutely Fabulous. She has had other cult television appearances on two British shows,  The Avengers and The Saint.

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Barney and Robin actually did get married last week and tomorrow we will find out if the fan theories about Ted and the Mother are true. I suspect we are in for a different surprise, which will be legendary. Above is the video of the cast of How I Met Your Mother on Inside The Actors Studio with the series finale airing tomorrow night.

SciFi Weekend: Black Widow; Arrow; Continuum; House of Cards; Fantastic Four; Hannibal; Man From UNCLE; The Americans; Two More US Remakes Of British Shows; Karen Gillan; If Ikea Sold A TARDIS

Black Widow

Variety reports that Black Widow will continue to have a major role in upcoming Marvel movies and then Scarlett Johansson will star in her own stand-alone movie:

According to Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, Black Widow’s storyline in “The Winter Soldier” revolves around “her coming to terms with her history, that she’s been a spy, and spies aren’t necessarily trustworthy,” he told Total Film.

That will be further explored in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” out in 2015. Film starts production in March.

“(Black) Widow’s part in that is very big,” Feige said. “We learn more about her past and learn more about where she came from and how she became in that film. The notion of exploring that even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that. When we meet the Avengers at the top of ‘Age of Ultron,’ it’s a very different landscape than we left them at the end of the first film. Partially, that’s because we love the rhythm that the comicbooks have developed — each of the characters appear in their runs, occasionally they get together for a big event or crossover series, they part again, and then they come back together again.”

It’s unclear whether Marvel hopes to have a Black Widow movie become part of its third phase of films, which so far includes “Ant-Man,” “Doctor Strange” and the third installments of “The Avengers” and “Captain America.”

Phase two includes “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Bringing Sarah into Team Arrow raises questions as to Felicity’s role. That is answered with a Felicity-centered episode. Preview above. More about Arrow here.

After Arrow, I’m far more willing to take a show on CW seriously. They have ordered  pilots from the creators of Sleepy Hollow and Veronica Mars:

The CW has given pilot orders to dramas Identity, from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Jane the Virgin, from Jennie Snyder Urman, and iZombie from Rob Thomas, TVGuide.com has learned.

In Identity, when a young woman in need of a transplant learns she is related to a powerful family whose son is her only hope for a donor organ, the CIA approaches her to investigate the family’s involvement in domestic terrorism and to infiltrate their rarified world.  Her loyalty, morality and ethics are tested as she’s forced to slowly build a case against the family who saved her life. Sleepy Hollow‘s Kurtzman and Orci will executive-produce with The Good Wife‘s Corinne Brinkerhoff, who will also write. Heather Kadin, Rob Golenberg and Alon Aranya are also attached as executive producers…

Based on DC Comics’ series, iZombie is a supernatural crime procedural about a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to obtain the brains she must eat to maintain her humanity. However, with every brain she consumes, she also inherits the corpse’s memories. In order to silence those disturbing voices in her head, she solves homicide cases along with her medical examiner boss and a police detective. Veronica Mars‘ Thomas and Diane Ruggiero will write and executive-produce with Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge.

Showcase has released another trailer for the third season of Continuum. It returns on  March 16  or you can wait until April 4 and see cut episodes on SyFy. Guess which version I plan to watch.

If you haven’t seen the first episode of season two of House of Cards yet, you just better get off the Internet if you don’t want to see spoilers. It turns out that the shocking event from the first episode was planned from the start with a similar event in the season finale of the first season of the U.K. version. How realistic is the show? A star such as Robin Wright may or may not know very much about actual political life, but it is easy to have their opinion covered by being a bit titillating:

During a Q&A in the upcoming issue of Capitol File magazine, a reporter asked whether Wright’s White House source thought the fictional events depicted in the Netflix series were close to the mark.

“Did she think reporters sleeping with sources and members of Congress was factual?” the reporter asked.

“Oh, yeah,” the actress replied. “D.C. is more corrupt than Hollywood. It really is. It’s more sleazy than Hollywood… how much infidelity goes on.”

Kate Mara might soon become better known for another genre role. The cast has been announced for the Fantastic Four reboot, with Mara playing Sue Storm. Think how House of Cards might have turned out differently if Zoe Barnes also had Sue Storm’s power to turn invisible.

Orange Is The New Black returns on Netflix on June 6. No relation to Black Widow, Black Canary, or Orphan Black.

Hannibal returns on February 28, with the first season available to binge on Netflix and Amazon. Here is some more information on  the second season.

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Open Channel D. The Man From UNCLE movie opens on January 16, 2015. The movie stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant and Luca Calvani. One of the key things I remember from the original show was the use of cigarette cases and pens as communication devices. Is there any point in this with smart phones? But if these are not used, will the movie really feel like UNCLE? It might be fun to go back and look at some of the old episodes to see how they stand up today. My guess is that they would be better than SHIELD.

Actually Agents of SHIELD has improved. They did try experimenting with storytelling a little in the last episode, TRACKS, telling the same story from the perspective of different characters. I also enjoyed seeing a train heist as it reminded me of one of the first Joss Whedon shows I had ever seen, The Train Job episode of Firefly. (Yes, I have never seen Buffy). The episode ended with a cliff hanger but I doubt Skye is really dead considering how they appear in the midst of developing her back story. Besides, people on comic-based shows are rarely ever dead. A clue to this is that the next episode when SHIELD returns from hiatus will be entitled  TAHITI. Bill Paxton will be joining to assist in saving Skye.

Producer Joel Fields answered questions about the second season of The Americans, which returns this week. One of my favorite moments from the first season was when Reagan was shot and the Russians saw it as a coupe attempt by Alexander (“I am in control here”) Haig. Fields was asked if any real life events will be included in the second season:

Season two will begin in early 1982 and, as our show was last season, it will be informed – but not shaped – by real life events. Philip and Elizabeth will deal with threats ranging from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the covert American assistance taking place in Nicaragua, and everything they do will happen under the specter of constant brinkmanship that was a hallmark of US-Soviet relations at that time.

Last year it was discovered that Robert Galbraith was really a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. She has a second novel about Cormoran Strike coming out on June 19. With character names such as Cormoran Strike, we should have guessed who the author was.

Joel McHale of Community will be hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner on May 3.

Broadchurch US

The first pictures have been released from filming of Gracepoint, the US remake of Broadchurch. David Tennant reprises his staring role from the ITV version, along with Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad.

An American adaptation of Utopia is being planned by HBO and is to be written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

Both Broadchurch and Utopia have completed their first season in the U.K. and will be returning for a second season. The first season of each was excellent, but as accustomed as I have become to downloading shows from the U.K. I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just show the original versions here. Yes, there are references which Americans might not understand, and David Tennant’s accent was a bit thick in the ITV version, but I think American audiences can cope. Look how popular Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife are becoming here without need to remake them for American audiences.

The above trailer has been released for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen-Gillan-Joins-Selfie-Comedy

Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan has been cast in an American sit-com, Selfie:

The actress, who next appears in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Oculus, has been tapped to star in ABC’s Emily Kapnek comedy Selfie, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The modern take on My Fair Lady is inspired by the musical and tells the story of a self-obsessed 20-something woman named Eliza Dooley (Gillan) who is more concerned with “likes” than being liked. After suffering a public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media “followers” than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She then enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.

The casting marks the Scotland native’s return to TV following Doctor Who — where she played the Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond, for more than 30 episodes on the show’s fifth through seventh seasons — and Adult Swim’s NTSF: SD: SUV

No word as to whether Karen Gillan will be doing any nude writing or baking as in  Not Another Happy Ending.

I’ve seen a number of posts about people building their own TARDIS. With so much interest, it is only a matter of time until Ikea comes up with a kit. This is what the experience might be like:

TARDIS Ikea

SciFi Weekend: Valentine’s Day and Girls SciFi Geeks Love (About Time; Karen Gillan; Scarlett Johansson; Arrow; Almost Human)

SciFi Weekend is a weekly feature at Liberal Values, and is now being cross posted at The Moderate Voice. To introduce the feature to new readers, every week  this post generally deals with Science Fiction along with other topics. Sometimes, like last week, it is about a single topic (Sherlock Season 3). More often a variety of topics are discussed, typically starting with science fiction and genre television, but often including other topics in pop culture. Some weeks there is a theme. The theme this week is Valentine’s Day and Girls SciFi Geeks Love. Beware that there are frequently spoilers, especially for television shows which have aired in the United States. I do frequently leave out some details or only refer to them obliquely to limit this, and try to warn about spoilers when discussing movies or shows which have not aired yet in the U.S.

About TIme

This year we had not one but two major movies combining science fiction and romantic comedy. As I had already watched and blogged about Her, this left About Time to watch with my wife after we returned from dinner last night. About Time uses time travel much more like Groundhog Day than Doctor Who, except unlike Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, the protagonist of About Time can control which portions of his life he relives. The review does include spoilers.

On his twenty-first birthday Tim (Domhnall Gleeson)was told by his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family all have the ability to travel in time. There are limitations. You can only go back and revisit portions of your own life. As his father put it, you can’t kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy. Tim asked about the butterfly effect and his father told him he hadn’t run into it. To add some drama later in the movie, it turns out he wasn’t entirely correct here.

There are other limitations, including one standing in the way of Tim’s number one interest, getting a girlfriend. You can’t make someone love you. He failed in his first attempt with a girl spending the summer with his sister. He did later manage to meet Mary (Rachel McAdams) but the meeting was erased from time when he went back in time to help out a crabby playwright who he was briefly living with. There was no butterfly effect which destroyed civilization as we know it, but it is possible to change one’s past. It should surprise nobody that he did manage to meet Mary again, but had to go back in time to dispense with the boyfriend she met because of not meeting Tim.

From there time travel continued to come in handy. No more awkward first times in bed when for Tim it became the second and then third time after going back in time. It wasn’t even necessary to keep his first awkward attempts at removing Mary’s bra or meeting her parents. Minor mistakes later in their life, such as choosing the wrong best man, were also easily fixed.

Some problems were not so easily fixed. Tim found a serious problem in going too far back in time to help reverse a poor decision made by his sister, Kit Kat. Fortunately for Tim, his mistake was easily reversed, but he had to find another way to help his sister. Tim learned that time travel cannot fix all problems. Sometimes something terrible in life must occur to get people to change. If he was truly trying to help Kit Kat, he might have also bought her a comb.

The relationship between Tim and his father became as important to the movie as the relationship between Tim and Mary, even leading the two to once again break the rules, but this time with no dire consequences. Over time, Tim preferred a simpler form of time travel, moving forward in time day to day and fully appreciating every day. “The truth is, now I don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live everyday as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day. To enjoy it. As if it was the full final day. Of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” About Time is far from a hard science fiction look at time travel, but it was an enjoyable movie.

Karen Gillan’s romantic comedy, Not Another Happy Ending, is being released in the U.K. on DVD this week but there are no current plans for a U.S. release. Trailer above.  Iain De Caestecker of Agents of SHIELD (Fitz) is also in the movie. The actress who formerly played Amy Pond does not do any time traveling during the movie, but she does write and bake in the nude (more of that scene here). Update: Not Another Happy Ending will be shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival on March 19.

Scarlett Johansson is becoming the go to girl for sexy female leads when she is not in The Avengers movies. When they needed an actress to make it seem realistic for a voice alone to seduce the male lead, it was Scarlett Johansson’s voice used in Her. She is also the female lead in Under The Skin, playing an alien female who seduces men for sexual experimentation. Trailer above. It reminds me a bit of an early episode of Torchwood, back before the show got to be too big and they messed it up.

Doctor Who Both Hearts

If you missed buying a card for Valentine’s Day you might have to use Tim’s trick from About Time to go back and fix that. Or you can go back in your TARDIS, perhaps to use one of these cards.  For the last four years I have posted Doctor Who Valentine’s Day cards, with the latest set posted here.  Cards from 2013 can be seen here. Older ones also available from  2012 and 2011.

Heir to the Demon

I had not initially watched Arrow during its first season believing it would just be more CW fluff with attractive people in glitzy backdrops. At times it is, but as I later found out, it is far more. With a rich playboy crime fighter, and now the League of Assassins, in many ways it is one of the best live action adaptations of Batman ever made. Plus there are flashbacks to an island which might remind viewers of Lost. Still, it is on CW, so there is plenty of romance and love triangles in this superhero soap opera.

Before going on a brief hiatus for the Olympics, Arrow looked back at the triangle Oliver had with Sara and Laurel Lance, but things became even more complicated. In Heir to the Demon, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter managed to incapacitate airport security agents without any of the publicity and follow through which such an event would generate in our world. Her mission was to return Sara to the League of Assassins or to kill her, but it became clear that her mission would be more complicated when the two kissed upon first seeing each other. A discussion with the show’s producer over this turn of events can be read here:

With the introduction of Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) — Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter — hunting down Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) to bring her back to the League of Assassins, the stakes would have been high enough. But the show added another, more emotional level to Nyssa’s journey: She was Sara’s ex and wanted to win her heart again.

Of course, Nyssa ended up releasing Sara from her duty to the League when it became clear Sara would rather die than leave her family again. But watching Nyssa deal with the pain of that revelation was what made her one of the series’ best villains so far — a fact with which executive producer Andrew Kreisberg wholeheartedly agrees.

“It’s been pointed out that sometimes our villains get short shrift and we don’t always do right by the villains,” Kreisberg tells Zap2it and a handful of other reporters. “We just don’t have enough time for them because our show is just so dense. We’ve gotten away with casting really cool people in the parts and asking our audience to just fill in the rest.”

Kreisberg and fellow showrunner Marc Guggenheim are glad that they were able to give Nyssa enough of a backstory to make her a sympathetic villain. “I actually feel bad for her. She really does seem like this broken-hearted person who got the shaft,” Kreisberg says. “She has the advantage of having an emotional and personal tie to one of our characters. She goes on a complete journey from start to end as opposed to someone who just wants to rob a bank.”

Guggenheim is quick to point out, however, that “Arrow” can’t have every villain be like that. “If every episode had a Nyssa, and didn’t have let’s say a Clock King, when the Nyssas of the world showed up it wouldn’t have any import,” Guggenheim says. “It would lack the weight that this kind of episode has. Because some episodes, yes, it’s just a guy bombing the city, but there’s other stuff in that episode that makes it worthwhile and worth watching. If everything becomes special, then nothing becomes special.”

Law was excited to portray Nyssa, but she wasn’t expecting her to have such a rich history with Sara. “I was surprised that I was going to be a lesbian,” Law says with a laugh. “When we did the chemistry read, I wasn’t quite understanding why I was [with Lotz].”

According to Kreisberg and Guggenheim, the decision to make Nyssa a lesbian came from the idea of what it could do for Sara. “We thought of this at the beginning of the season,” Kreisberg says. “If you watch [episode] 205 there’s a reference to ‘the beloved,’ and ‘You think that’s going to keep you safe.’ We talked about, ‘Well, does Ra’s al Ghul have a son?’ And then we were like, ‘Well, can it be Talia?'”

Since Talia al Ghul was portrayed recently in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the writers decided to go with the lesser-known story of Nyssa al Ghul.

“It just felt like something new and different,” Kreisberg says. “At the same time, we didn’t do it to be salacious, because it’s a pretty chaste relationship from what you see onscreen. It just touched on a couple interesting things, like the idea that Sara found one person who treated her with love and kindness. And then for Lance to be this hardened, tough cop and probably not the most progressive guy, even he was just like, ‘I’m glad you had someone who loved you and took care of you during those nightmare years.'”

Nyssa wasn’t the only one getting action with Sara in the episode though, as it ended with her and Oliver (Stephen Amell) hooking up in the Arrow lair.

“We were anxious to have in the same episode where we reveal that Sara had had this lesbian relationship, she was also sleeping with Oliver again,” Guggenheim says. “We wanted to be sensitive and realistic. We specifically avoid using the term ‘bisexual’ because we didn’t want to label her at all. Let her be her own person, and if the audience wants to label, fine. We didn’t want to do something just to shock

Before this was all resolved, Nyssa kidnapped Sara and Laurel’s mother, played by Alex Kingston. I had half expected the Doctor to save River Song. It now appears that Amy Pond is the Black Canary’s grandmother. There is yet another triangle, as Sara joined Team Arrow and Felicity can wonder once again about what was going on over on that island between Oliver and all those women.

almost-human-season-1-episode-10-dorian-kennex

During most of the first season, Almost Human‘s best moments were its humor and the buddy cop relationship between the two male leads (one being an android). Unfortunately the last two episodes before its Olympic hiatus lacked the humor of previous episodes, but both episodes (Unbound and Perception) did more to flesh out the world the show takes place in. Perception returned to the events of the pilot and the relationship between Kennex and his probably-evil ex-girlfriend. Now that we now she is still tracking Kennex, there is the increased likelihood this will be used to find her and shed more light on what happened.

The episode also expanded upon the back story of Stahl, who turns out to be a genetically enhanced Chrome. Minka Kelley seemed almost too perfect on Friday Night Lights. She seems more plausible on Almost Human as being more than human, a character whose intelligence and beauty are the product of genetic enhancement.

Amelia Clarke of Game of Thrones was voted the Most Desirable Woman by Ask Men magazine. Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men came in second, with many other women in genre roles also on the  list.

continuum02

Two recent Canadian science fiction shows feature strong female leads. Syfy has announced that  Continuum, staring Rachel Nichols will return in the United States on April 4. Unfortunately this is after it returns on Showcase in Canada on March 16, making it harder to cover on line as I will definitely get a hold of each episode as soon as possible rather than waiting for it to air on Syfy.

Tatiana Maslany does an amazing job playing multiple roles on Orphan Black. Maria Doyle Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly that season two is like season one on crack:

That was just one of the tidbits Kennedy dropped when she stopped by Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) to chat about the show as well as her music career. Another tidbit? Looks like we can expect more Mrs. S in season 2. “You’re going to see more of her,” says Kennedy. “I had a great time in season 1 and there were some great scenes, but there was also a lot of hovering. They just really liked me so wrote me more this time, so that’s great.”

But on which side will Mrs. S. land in the war between Sarah and Rachel (both played by Tatiana Maslany)? Kennedy says her character’s ultimate objective is protecting Sarah’s daughter, Kira, whose whereabouts are currently unknown. “In the war between Rachel and Sarah and the whole idea about the clones trying to find out about themselves, she keeps going through that and beyond it and goes, ‘Where does Kira land in all this? What’s happening with her? How safe is she? Are they close to her? Can they get her?’”

Okay, but we still don’t quite know where Mrs. S stands and her connection to the clone conspiracy. Is she good, bad, or somewhere in between? “She is an incredibly pragmatic woman with a strong moral compass,” says Kennedy. “That’s how I feel about her. She has definitely done bad things in the past. She came through an era of protest and squatting, so she’s not afraid to be anarchic or against the law, but she always has a strong proper reason for doing what she does.”

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover 2014

Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge, and Chrissy Teigen appear on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Three girls would normally mean six bikini pieces, but apparently that would have put them above budget, forcing the models to pose topless. The theme is The Past, The Present and The Future. Is this another time travel magazine?

SciFi Weekend: New Director For Star Wars; JJ Abrams Book Out This Week; Doctor Who News; X-Men; Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; Thor

jj_abrams_star_wars_star_trek_crossovers

With J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars, a replacement is needed for the next Star Trek movie. I see this as a good thing. Abrams can make a slick blockbuster movie, but I think that Star Wars is a much better fit for him than Star Trek. There is certainly value in how Abrams has revived interest in Star Trek, but he does not really get Star Trek. Perhaps new blood can help revive the best of Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the show. Deadline reports on a possible replacement:

We know that Paramount and Skydance Productions lost JJ Abrams as the director of the third installment of Star Trek when Abrams took on Star Wars. I’m hearing the studio is sweet on Joe Cornish to direct the next film. Cornish made his feature directorial debut on Attack The Block, the saga of a group of British youths who stave off an alien invasion in their rough neighborhood.

Cornish followed by being one of the writers on The Adventures Of Tin Tin, and he and Edgar Wright wrote the script for Ant-Man, the Marvel Studios film that Wright is going to direct. Long story short, he’s gotten exposure to bigger scale projects than Attack The Block, in which he admirably depicted a full scale alien invasion on a relatively small budget. Doing a movie like this would certainly put his career on a warp speed path. He’s already working with Paramount on the novel adaptation Snow Crash which he’s prepping to present to the studio. It’s early days on this, but stay tuned. Paramount is readying the movie to shoot in summer, 2014.

I don’t know anything more about Cornish than this, but I would like someone else to get a chance at Star Trek in place of Abrams. This does not mean I don’t like other works by  J.J. Abrams. Again, I just think that Star Trek was not a good fit for him. I have ordered his upcoming novel S. Wired says this is like downloading Lost to your brain:

S by Abrams

Let’s get the tl;dr version out of the way first: If you were a fan of Lost — and especially the speculation and theorizing that surrounded the show itself — then S., the novel/meta-narrative by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, is pretty much written for you. At times, it feels as if reading the book is like having the entirety of Lost (the television series and the fandom alike) downloaded into your head simultaneously.

As much S. is, as the slipcover helpfully describes, a “love letter to the written word” (which it is, but we’ll get to that later), it’s also very much a love letter to Abrams’ career to date. There are oblique references to almost all of Abrams’ past projects throughout the book: the romance tales of Felicity; the constantly-revised concepts of identity in Alias; the supernatural existentialism of Lost; the genre pastiche of Super 8; the found object storytelling of Cloverfield. All we needed was an appearance from the Starship Enterprise as commanded by Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt from the Mission: Impossible movies and we’d practically have a full set.

Despite that, though, S. – a fictional artifact, much like the found film of Cloverfield – hangs together surprisingly well. That’s an odd thing to say about something that has at least four different interconnected narratives unfolding at the same time, although not necessarily in chronological order, a la Lost‘s signature flashback-flashforward storytelling. Perhaps you remember the original video tease for S., which appeared online this summer without any explanation:

The video connects to and contains Ship of Theseus, a novel written by a mysterious political dissident known as “V.M. Straka.” Little is known about Straka,  even by “F.X. Caldeira,” the translator of his works and publisher of this final novel, published after Straka’s disappearance and assumed death. Ship is one of the texts of S., with Caldeira’s footnotes for the novel offering a second text that seemingly gives context into Straka’s life and identity.

And then there is a third layer: The copy of Ship that exists in S. has been heavily annotated by a scholar researching Straka’s identity who doesn’t quite agree with Caldeira’s footnotes. His notes soon become a conversation with Jen, a grad student with too much time on her hands, as well as a chip on her shoulder and numerous secrets in her past. That conversation becomes the fourth text, another thread to follow…

Doctor-Who-Day-of-The-Doctor-Teaser-Trailer

It appears there will be a mini-episode released, perhaps prior to The Day of the Doctor:

The British Board of Film Classification have announced today that a minisode has been made for The Day of the Doctor, entitled The Night of the Doctor. The BBFC passed the material for release in the UK. The minisode has a running length of six minutes and fifty-four seconds, and stars David Tennant and Matt Smith.

While, as far as we know, Peter Davison does not appear in The Day of The Doctor, he will have a role in the 50th Anniversary celebration of Doctor Who.

Cory Doctorow discussed Traversable Achronal Retrograde Domains In Spacetime, a physics paper on “the spacetime through which Doctor Who’s Tardis travels.” Note the acronym. There is also a version for non-physicists, The Blue Box White Paper,

What Culture! gives a detailed analysis of the trailer to X-Men: Days of Futures Past (trailer above)

Deadline reports that Paramount is fast tracking an upcoming movie written by David Chase:

In a big spec deal, Paramount Pictures has acquired Little Black Dress, a script by The Sopranos creator David Chase that will be fast-tracked to be the next film Chase directs. I’m told that this is a character-driven film about a twentysomething female war veteran who comes back from Afghanistan grappling with a disability. While working a potentially lethal investigation at a post-war job, she gets involved with a superstitious NYPD detective who helps bring her back from a personal precipice.

Arrow Crucible Black Canary

Arrow remains the better of the two prime time shows which tie into the DC and Marvel comic universes. This week, not only was Black Canary’s identify revealed, but it tied into Oliver’s back story both at home and to the flash backs on the boat (or both boats). Next week: The League of Assassins.

There was not a new episode of Agents of SHIELD this week. The previous week there was a rather lame explanation as to what Sky is looking for–information on her parents. I suspect they are working towards a parallel between Sky and Agent Coulson both looking for secrets which SHIELD is hiding from them–once Coulson realizes that there is a secret about “magical Tahiti” and his return from the dead. Still, they might have come up with something a little more creative for Sky.

The November 19 episode of SHIELD, entitled The Well will be a cross-over, taking place after the events of Thor: The Dark World. The episode will be directed by Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, sort of making this a three-way cross over.

The official synopsis reads: “In the aftermath of the events chronicled in the feature film Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, Coulson and the Agents of SHIELD pick up the pieces – one of which threatens to destroy a member of the team.”

Thor Agent Coulson

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Atlantis; SHIELD; Arrow; Last Week’s Revelation on Homeland; The Blacklist; Once Upon A Time In Wonderland; Star Trek; Star Wars; American Blackout; X-Men; Time Travel; Dealing With A Zombie Apocalypse

doctorwho50th1

Matt Smith and David Tennant worked very well together during filming of The Day of the Doctor according to Steven Moffat:

Matt Smith and David Tennant got on so well while filming the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special that they hatched a plan to continue working together on the show, says Steven Moffat.

“They got on like a couple of old women. They just say in the corner and gossiped the entire time,” revealed the Doctor Who showrunner.

“By the end of it, Matt told me that he’d worked out this plan that they’d both continue in Doctor Who: do five individual episodes each and three together – would that be ok? It was a nice plan. I think if I’d said yes they’d have gone for it.”

However, Moffat admitted that neither star had started out completely confident about bringing their two Doctors together.

“David and Matt, I think… were both quite apprehensive of the other,” Moffat told the audience at a Radio Times event earlier this month. “David’s continued to watch Doctor Who like the sad old fan he is and so as far as he’s concerned Matt’s the Doctor. And of course for Matt, you don’t believe yourself you’re the Doctor, you just think David’s the Doctor. So they were both slightly nervous and slightly apprehensive.”

Steven Moffat also told Radio Times that John Hurt would steal scenes with his eyes:

“It was great fun,” said Moffat. “You’d have David and Matt, they’d be leaping around the set and doing every form of physical comedy with each other – and, you know, slightly competing about who could be slightly more insane than the other – and then John Hurt would come along and do this [tiny movement] with his eyes and you go ‘That’s it – he’s got the scene now hasn’t he?'”

Moffat has also discussed the return of the Zygons:

Steven Moffat says bringing back the Zygons has been an ambition since he took over Doctor Who – and that the classic monsters are so well designed he hardly had to change a thing for their return in the 50th Anniversary Special.

“Every year since I took over I’ve been trying to get the Zygons in,” says Steven Moffat, “and then I thought ‘Well, it’s the 50th…’

“The Zygons are beautifully designed monsters, they are so wonderful… We barely changed the design at all because it was so good.”

The classic Who foes have appeared just once before, in 1975 adventure Terror of the Zygons, yet remain a firm fan favourite.

Cult Box interviewed Doctor Who composer Murray Gold. H:ere is just one question on the show’s theme, which has changed with the lead actor:

Have you started thinking about what the 12th Doctor’s theme will sound like? Are you going to miss using the 11th Doctor’s wonderful theme?!

“I’m not 100% certain they will let me drop that theme entirely… but yes, I have started to think about it. I really need to see Peter in the role to get it all firing up.”

Peter Salus looked at the history of computers in Doctor Who.

Sherlock season 3 will premiere in the United States on PBS on January 19 at 10 p.m. This means it will air back to back with Downtown Abbey, which starts on January 5 in the United States. Downton Abbey is already well into the season on ITV (with a rather major event for Anna at one point during the season so far). The BBC has not announced when Sherlock will return in the U.K.

Atlantis (the replacement for Merlin) will premiere in the United States on November 23, after The Day of the Doctor.

black canary arrow

Agents of SHIELD and Arrow are extending further into the Marvel and DC universes respectively. SHIELD has come up against Centipede, plus expect more connections to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. On Arrow, Oliver was saved by the Black Canary, who turns out to have been working in the past for Ra’s al Ghul, ultimately tying into Batman. We will see more of this Black Canary next week, and will have to wait and see  how things play out regarding the discrepancy with her identity in the comics. Situations and characters do tend to evolve gradually on Arrow.

Arrow, while well-done and quite entertaining  for its genre, does trace back to the teen/young adult form of genre common on CW. In this vein, CBS is considering a reboot of Charmed.

Anastasia and Will Wonderland

I think that Once Upon A Time would have worked better if they stuck to the first season’s story as opposed to trying to stretch it out into a conventional multi-year television series. American television often is of a lower quality than British television due to the usual format requirements in the US.  Once Upon A Time In Wonderland shows promise partially because it is planned as a single season story. Last week Alice learned more about the White Rabbit but the story is not limited to Wonderland. Any Disney fan has to just love to see Robin Hood and his Merry Men rob Maleficent’s  castle, as occurred on last week’s episode. Then there was the revelation that Will’s girlfriend Anastasia becomes the Red Queen.

I was happy to see that last week’s episode of The Blacklist delved more into Elizabeth and her husband, with implications that more is to come next week. I do hope the series concentrates more on this mythology as opposed to being a villain of the week series. According to E!, episode eight is also major:

Episode eight is a big one. Don’t miss it. Oh, you want more than that? Fine. Not only does someone on the team get severely injured in the episode, but Red comes face to face with one of his mortal enemies. Someone Red is scared of? This we can’t wait to see!

Episode 304

Showtime has renewed Homeland and Masters of Sex. The big revelation on Homeland last week didn’t come as very much of a surprise. In many ways it is more plausible that Saul and Carrie are working together consider the past working relationship between the two and the fact that Saul knows that Brody’s confession tape had to be a set-up. On the other hand, Carrie sure played her role at all times she was seen on television. I would have to go back to past episodes to verify this, but I believe this includes times in which there was nobody else watching her beyond the television audience. Alex Gansa discussed the revelation with TV Guide:

In your mind, when did Carrie and Saul hatch this master plan?
Alex Gansa:
 I think they decided the very next day after the bomb went off. Carrie and Saul were culpable in what happened, and they were looking for some way to make good, to make it right, to get the guy who was ultimately responsible. They began to hatch the plan right then to figure out how to lure the bad guy of the season, Javadi, out of his anonymity in Iran.

So, Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and Quinn (Rupert Friend) don’t know about this?
Gansa: For the first four episodes they were totally outside the circle. This was a ruse and a plot that was hatched just between Carrie and Saul.

There were a lot of machinations to this plot. Saul continued to pursue Javadi on his own, for example. Was that just to throw the audience off or was it a backup plan?
Gansa:
 One of the things that our intelligence officer consultants [told us] is that the most effective intelligence operations are 95 percent true. Carrie and Saul were largely to blame for what happened and [they knew] the CIA would be looking for a scapegoat to take the blame. How would they turn that into a silver lining? This was a huge gamble, and Carrie was asked to sacrifice a lot in that gamble. It’s not a sure thing, so Saul was really playing all sides of the equation here. And you will see that he’s got a Phase 2 of the operation in mind, which he is not sharing with Carrie. Saul is very much the puppeteer here. He’s the maestro.

Why would Carrie react the way she did to Saul “outing” her during his senate testimony if she knew this was all a scam?
Gansa: 
Saul is the one who leaked the idea that she was having a sexual relationship with Brody to the committee. Carrie was aware that he was doing that. However, it doesn’t diminish the reality of it when it’s actually presented in front of you. When we were shooting it, we were talking to Claire about, “This moment is going to have to play two ways. It’s going to have to play one way if the audience is watching it for the first time not understanding that this is a ruse.” But when you go back and look at it again, you’ll understand that she’s not surprised by what she’s hearing. She’s amazed at how it affects her to understand that she is to blame for what happened. That’s where the emotion catches up with her in an unexpected way.

There’s more at The Hollywood Reporter, including how Brody will fit into the storyline:

How will Brody figure in to all of this?

I will say that Brody becomes a principal player in the architecture of the last sweep of episodes. His predicament down in Caracas and his separation from Carrie and Saul is really paramount as we move into the next two movements of the season.

Did you have any reservations about having an episode (“Tower of David”) that was almost exclusively from Brody’s point of view?

It was really a function of how much story was to be told there. Just anecdotally, some people felt we were with him too much and others felt we were with him too little. It felt right to us to establish his predicament and to parallel his plight with Carrie’s. These are two people in some very desperate circumstances. The show has paralleled their stories before and some of the most successful episodes that we have done have drawn comparisons between their predicaments.

I just saw this commercial from May. It has to be the best car commercial ever. Spock v. Spock. May the best Spock win.

I don’t find it to be a good sign when there is a need to change writers for Star Wars VII.

The National Geographic Channel is airing a fictionalized account of the consequences of a catastrophic ten day cyberattack:

As the power grid goes down across the country, the streets quickly descend into chaos while consumers ransack stores for bottled water and canned goods.

Those without sufficient cash handy are quickly in dire straits, since no electricity means no credit cards or ATMs, either.

Meanwhile, the heroes of the day are “doomsday preppers” who have had the foresight to stockpile a couple years’ worth of bottled water, batteries, and military-style meals-ready-to-eat in secret underground bunkers.

This is the scenario explored in “American Blackout,” the National Geographic Channel’s fictionalized account of a 10-day-long power outage precipitated by a cyberattack.

What Culture has ten alcoholic drinks from Mad Men which you must try.

Screen Rant reports that X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Trailer Preview Includes a Time-Traveling Wolverine

Is time travel even possible? See the above video from TED-ED. No X-Men but it includes plenty of scenes with a TARDIS. It only deals with time travel into the future. No hope we will be visited by Kiera Cameron of Continuum.

Some people think that TED Talks fail to deal with real problems. The above DED Talk might be more practical after a zombie apocalypse.

SciFi Weekend: The TARDIS on Google Maps; Arrow Introducing More DC Characters; Iron Man 3; Under The Dome; True Blood; Homeland; Orange Is The New Black; Orphan Black; Thor; Elementary; The Newsroom; Interstellar; Star Trek Predicting The Future Since 1966

TARDIS in on Google Maps

If you check out street view on Google Maps at Earlham Green, Greater London Nr5 8DQ, United Kingdom you will see a blue police call box on the left side of the street. Place the mouse near it and then click on the double lines which will appear. This will allow you to enter the TARDIS. You will find that it is smaller on the outside than on the inside. Once inside you will be able to move around the control room. Unfortunately you cannot go further inside the TARDIS but I assume Google Maps will be working on extending their coverage of interior spaces.

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Arrow show runner Mark Guggenheim discussed introducing The Flash on Arrow:

“I feel like I’m just following Bilson and DeMeo. Whatever they do, I seem to follow in their footsteps,” Guggenheim laughed. The writer told CBR that from comics to TV, the goal of the “Arrow” production team is to expand out the DC Universe while keeping the tone and feel of their show its own unique story platform.

“Honestly, I’m just excited to help be a part of expanding the DC Universe,” he said. “I think one of the big thing that appeals to me about comics in general is the idea of the shared universe. It’s a lot of fun to be able to do that in television, and growing up one of the things I enjoyed was the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ and ‘The Bionic Woman’ and the way those two shows would interact with each other. We’re at least a season away from ‘Arrow’ interacting with ‘The Flash,” but the potential for that is really exciting for me.”

Kreisberg, who serves as Guggenheim’s show running partner on “Arrow,” will develop Barry Allen’s character in writing each of those three episodes this season on “Arrow,” and Guggenheim said that is all part of a masterplan that stretches back before their recent run of announcements. “Andrew is taking the lead on ‘The Flash.’ This has been in the works for a while and had been in the works since before Comic-Con. But we made the decision, as these things are announced in a rollout, to take a strategy where we’d announce Black Canary, Bronze Tiger and Brother Blood at Comic-Con. We felt like, ‘That’s a lot for Comic-Con. Let’s save something back for when T.C.A. comes around.’ I want to disabuse anyone of the notion that we decided to do Flash after Comic-Con. We’re just capable of keeping secrets every now and again.”

And overall, the writer wanted to stress that an additional superhero – and one with some more super powers – won’t change the core of what “Arrow” is. In fact, Guggenheim leaned on a comparison with DC’s main competitor to explain how each series will develop over time. “I think a lot of people are justified in asking ‘What does this mean for Arrow in terms of its tone?’ And my answer is that the trick that we have – and this is a challenge we’ve discusses a lot and have an awareness of how to face it head on – is the fact that ‘Arrow’ is like ‘Iron Man’ where ‘The Flash’ will be ‘The Hulk.’ And just as ‘The Hulk’ coming out did not change the tone of the Iron Man movies, ‘The Flash’ will not change the tone of ‘Arrow.’ We’re very cognizant of what ‘Arrow’ is all about, and I think the Marvel movies demonstrate that each piece of a universe can have its own feel. ‘Thor’ is consistent with the tone of Thor while ‘Captain America’ is consistent with the tone of Captain America’s character. ‘Arrow’s’ tone will remain consistent much in the same way, and we are looking forward to expanding our canvass a bit. And judging from the announcement, I think the fans are looking forward to it as well.”

While Barry Allen will be on Arrow for a few episodes, he will not have his superpowers, at least not at the start.  Despite not having true superpowers, Arrow does feel like a superhero show, including having the common problem of the hero being just too powerful. I just watched the first season of the show over the past week and found it to be entertaining as long as you ignore the multiple implausible aspects. On Arrow, a person with bow and arrows can easily defeat multiple people with guns. This includes not only Oliver Queen, but two other characters who use the same weapon. Oliver Queen does have fighting skills beyond this weapon. He also has an amazing ability to disappear. Typically when he is surrounded inside a closed area and anyone else would be captured, he gets away with no difficulty or even on-screen explanation. Arrow is not up to the quality of the most impressive new genre shows of the season on regular cable and broadcast television ( such as The Americans, Orphan Black, and Hannibal) but still worth watching.

There were aspects of the writing style of Arrow which makes me confident they will do a good job of gradually introducing characters. Rather than quickly giving an origin and then moving on to the main story, Arrow had flashbacks over the entire season to the island where Oliver Queen was stranded for five years and learned his skills. Rather than immediately introduce the sidekick and those who knew his secret identity, characters were gradually brought into Oliver Queen’s inner circle.

There are also a couple of reasons for Doctor Who fans to watch. John Barrowman is a recurring character all season and Alex Kingston was on a few episodes. I was hoping for the two to interact but that did not occur. Incidentally, most Barrowman fans probably know that Torchwood is an anagram with the same letters as Doctor Who. By coincidence, the name of the television show he appeared in last season is also in Barrowman’s name.

More on crossover characters from other DC comics here.

The Mandarin appears in this deleted scene from Iron Man 3.

I’m glad to see Under the Dome turn more to the mystery of the dome, not that I’m all that confident of a satisfactory resolution. Apparently when they say “the monarch will be crowned” they are speaking of an actual monarch within the small dome. I have read that one of the major differences between recent episodes and the book has been that Big Jim and Junior work together in the book. Last week’s episode may signal a reconciliation between the two.

Last week’s episode of True Blood contained the battle which we might have expected for the season finale. There are still questions. Will Sookie keep her promise to become Warlow’s vampire bride? (I bet she does not). Is the war between humans and vampires now over, or just beginning? Will those vampires who indirectly fed on ferry blood continue to be able to be out in daylight? Is Bill now returning to his normal self? Considering how poor recent seasons of the show had become, it is a good sign that, despite some ongoing problems, the show is now able to maintain interest in such questions.

Homeland writers revealed information on their plans during season two. I’ve been questioning since the end of season one how long they could plausibly continue to have Brody around. The writers may have been thinking the same thing:

Though the show’s creators already copped to plotting an untimely end for Lewis’ character way back in season one, that is until more merciful voices at Showtime prevailed, Gordon admitted that, going into season two, the writers intended to send Brody to the chopping block yet again, and were once more persuaded otherwise by the network.  “We had sketched out this plan in the early parts of season two which called for Brody’s demise, which may have been premature, and they asked us to reconsider,” which Gordon credits as “the happy accident of having very good partners.”

If it seemed like a sudden reversal for Carrie to have decided not to leave the country with Brody, it was also a reversal of the writers’ plans:

According to Steihm, who has since left Homeland to run FX drama The Bridge, the writers all wanted Carrie (Claire Danes) to go with Brody across the border in the season two finale instead of returning to the CIA.  In fact, in the first draft, she did. After much debate, they ultimately decided it was more in character for Carrie to stay and carry out her mission with the Agency after helping Brody escape safely to an underground network.

Besides being a great show, Orange Is The New Black has supported science over religious fundamentalism, such as in the scene above with partial transcript below:

Piper: I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t, and I don’t [believe in this]… I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit he could be kind of an asshole. I cannot get behind some Supreme Being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked by machetes. I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell. I don’t think that we get cancer to learn life lessons. And I don’t believe people die young because God needs another angel. I think it’s just bullshit. And on some level, I think we all know that.

There are a number of reports, along with a denial, that Laura Prepon will be leaving Orange is The New Black to work on a new show. If true, this would leave a major hole in the show. The reports claiming this do say that Prepon will still be present at the start of the season to tie up Alex’s storyline and she will be written out in a way which would allow her to return.

Orphan Is The New Black

Two  of the top television shows premiering in 2013, Orphan Black and Orange Is The New Black, have been combined in this mash-up giving us Orphan Is The New Black.

Natalie Portman expects there to be a Thor 3.

Fake Sherlock will be going to England in their opening episode. Maybe they will meet the “real” Holmes and Watson of Sherlock. (Ok, probably not). More news on the second season of Elementary here.

We expect The Newsroom to mix in major news stories with each episode. Last week they included plot elements reminiscent of other real events from The Today Show botching the editing on George Zimmerman’s 911 tape to the real life release of nude photos from Oliva Munn’s phone. The manner in which World Net Daily reported a rumor without any fact checking also is based on reality, along with being an excellent commentary on the unreliability of WND and the entire right wing noise machine.

Filming has begun on Christopher Nolan’s latest science fiction project, Interstellar.

William Shatner joins those arguing that Star Trek belongs on television in this interview:

Karl Urban, from the new Star Trek films said that “Star Trek, as envisioned, was about space exploration. And it would be really wonderful to harness the spirit of that and apply it to the next film”. Is that something that you would like to see? A greater focus on discovery in these films.

Shatner: I’m not goona second guess JJ Abrams, he’s a great director and he’s so talented. But I’ll tell you that I am going to the Lowell Observatory in a couple of weeks to deliver a speech that I wrote about Star Trek and its capacity to stir the imaginations of young people.

The idea is, that so many people’s lives have been touched by the imagination of Star Trek and children’s imaginations are so vital to the rest of their lives that… this is an aspect of Star Trek that I’m focused on.

Now let me ask you, trying to bring in new viewers, new younger viewers to expose that world to young kids and teenagers alike and really spur that imagination — is a TV show a more viable vehicle for that? Is it sad that we don’t have something like that right now, a Star Trek TV show that could really seize on the exploration part of the thing that the original series and Next Generation, that those things did?

Shatner: You know, I think you’re right. Because, JJ Abrams has found the key to getting a large audience into the movie theater, and that’s the ride. So you get a lot of the CGI effects, which is the epic movie making aspect of today, whereas in Cecile B. Demille’s time, you had to use real people. Now you don’t need to use real people and you can have infinity for God’s sake.

That’s in order to get you into the theater, because the majesty of the movie is shown by the large screen. But when you get into the small screen, you need stories… entertaining, interesting, vital stories that have a philosophy and also have an excitement about them, so that the viewer stays with it, but recieves the philosophy as a byproduct. Those were the best of Star Trek, those kinds of stories. And that kind of thing, there is always room for that. That kind of imaginative approach that stirs young people into wanting to be connected with science.

Star Trek Science

Via Techeblog