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

The Americans Nina Gulag

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

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

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

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

IGN: Oh yeah, it plays.

Flash Firestorm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lily James Matt Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mad Men 70's

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

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

“Bambi”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: 12 Monkeys; Arrow; The Atom; Spider-Man Joins MCU; X-Men; The Black Widow Project; A Female Thor; Orphan Black; Constantine; How Not To Get Away With Murder; The Americans; The Casual Vacancy; The IT Crowd In Space

12 Monkeys Decaying Body

I had fears that 12 Monkeys could settle on a simple formula of searching for the Night Room and the Army of the 12 Monkeys in our present, and a battle for the facility in the future. I no longer have such concerns about the direction of the show after this week’s episode, The Night Room. Major spoilers ahead for those who might be a week behind. The location of the Night Room was found (mostly off screen last week) and this week’s episode primarily took place there. The relationships between the main characters will not be exactly the same, especially after The Pallid Man told Cassandra that Cole killed Dr. Henri Toussaint in Haiti. There are also questions raised about Jones.

The episode was really interesting when the time travel implications of the virus are considered. Is the skeleton with the virus really Cole’s? Does he eventually develop the plague, despite his current immunity, or is he just a carrier? Does the repeated time travel play a part? Did Jones send his rotting body back in time, and for what reason? Did Jones (inadvertently?) cause the plague? If the answers are in the future which Cole came from, he won’t find them immediately. Although he failed in preventing the plague, he did enough to change the future. With West 7 and not Jones now in control of the time travel facility in the altered future, and with Cassie kidnapped in the past, Cole starts out next week with no allies in either time period beyond an insane girl.

12-monkeys Cassie Night Room

The shows’s executive producers Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett discussed the impact on the mythology with The Hollywood Reporter:

The Night Room is a big return to our mythology and the next big step in learning more not only about the virus, but the origin of this conspiracy,” Matalas says. “We learn quite a bit about the future, too. There is a very big storyline regarding Jones (Barbara Sukowa) in the Night Room. We get to learn what it took to get this time travel project up and running and the sacrifices she made. This episode is the one where we inhibit our skin a little bit more. The show gets a little bit more unique and a little more off-beat from what you may expect. We bring the weird a little bit here in a good way. It’s what makes it 12 Monkeys.

The two creators have a bigger plan in mind for Jones, which began with the early and rare moment of levity from the character at the beginning of “The Night Room.” “It’s definitely building up to something. Jones becomes from here on out a more prominent character with more screen time. That is something we wanted to see, her among the other characters, but also her backstory is really important to the mythology of the show and that is the first hint of it,” Fickett said. “When Ramse (Kirk Acevedo) goes into her room and opens up that chest you see the baby blanket with the name Hannah on it. Suddenly we know there is a whole lot more to this woman and maybe she has deeply personal reasons for changing time as well.”

Matalas, however, notes that messing with time has its consequences both to Cole and time itself. Throughout the Night Room, Cole starts to experience debilitating headaches. “Keep in mind, this is a new process. Cole is the pilot program for this. No one has traveled as much as him. He does have a time clock on himself,” Matalas said.

The changes brought about from the destruction of the Precursor are a major according to Matalas. It’s big enough to break time. “We are not talking about multiple universes. We are talking about one singular timeline. Jones, in [episode] six, explains the difference between loops, or what’s called a jinn, and that’s basically the Sarah Connor. … How Reese had to come back in time to pregnate Sarah Connor so that she can give birth to John Connor who will send his father back in time. It’s one of the infinite loops. That’s called a jinn,” Matalas explains.  “When there are more traumatic changes to the timeline, then you can break the change and that’s what happens in episode six.”

Among the big changes was The Pallid Man’s first mention of hierarchy within the Army of the 12 Monkeys by naming dropping someone called The Witness. When questioned about the character, Matalas and Fickett remained tight-lipped, promising only that the answer will not be what viewers expect.  “It’s not the answer Cole is expecting either,” Matalas said. “Or any of our characters,” Fickett added.

“There is a lot going on with the Army of the 12 Monkeys and by episode eleven you’ll learn a lot more about them. Enough to make your brain explode,” Matalas said. “Releasing the virus could be one of their intended goals, but the end result may not be what you expect it to be. With time travel you’re playing the long game and if you’re dealing with the fate of the entire planet, destruction can be creative in the long run.”

Arrow Ray Palmer Atom Suit

Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim is not one of those who subscribe to the theory (mentioned last week) that John Diggle might be John Stewart, who succeeds Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. I do think that Diggle plays such a key role on Arrow that it makes sense to keep him as he is, although it might be a way to give him a spin-off series in the future after Arrow ends.

We do know that Arrow is on the verge of introducing another superhero. Ray Palmer will put on the Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism (A.T.O.M.) suit, which so far we have only seen as a holograph,  in episode 15, Nanda Parbat. His course as a superhero sounds a lot like Laurel’s. Guggenheim said, “He’s definitely a sloppy superhero in the sense of all of our characters don’t immediately have the easiest time fighting crime. I would say episode 19 really digs underneath what does it mean for Ray to be a hero. Is he a hero because of who he is? Or is he a hero because of the suit that he’s made?” He will not be shrinking initially but will fly:

For me, the most satisfying thing about the costume is, it looks like Brandon walked off of a movie set. I’ve never seen a TV show do a costume of this level of ambition before. He’s got a lot of cool tricks up his sleeve. People who are immediately expecting him to shrink are going to be disappointed. I will say that upfront.

We always say, we’re doing the “Arrow” version of The Atom. That said, there will be some flying involved, which looks remarkably amazing. He has a lot of little gadgets and tricks and abilities built into that suit. I don’t want to spoil exactly what they are, because I think part of the fun of watching is seeing what that suit’s going to do next.

A Felicity Smoak action figure is being released. I won’t discuss this further to avoid getting into Lars And The Real Girl territory.

Spider-Man and Avengers

After several weeks of rumors, it has now been announced that   Spider-Man will become part of the Marvel cinematic universe. It is believed that this means that The Amazing Spider-Man trilogy will not be completed and Andrew Garfield is out as Spider-Man. The deal will allow Spider-Man to appear in an upcoming Marvel Studios movie, assumed to be the upcoming Captain America movie considering that in the comics Spider-Man played a role in the civil war storyline. Afterwards, while Sony will retain ownership and handle distribution, Marvel Studies will collaborate with Sony on the creative end. Considering that Sony has failed in two different attempts at a Spider-Man trilogy, this deal should help both Sony and Marvel. There is also talk of future Marvel cross overs in future Spider-Man movies.

While most fans seem to have been rooting for Marvel Studies to get creative control of Spider-Man, I recently discussed a contrary opinion that this would reduce exposure for some of the lesser comics characters which Marvel Studies has done an excellent job with. I think that, if necessary, it would be worth reducing the number of other Marvel movies in order to have a quality Spider-Man movie series. So far it appears that the only consequence will be to move back the releases dates of four of the planned phase 3 movies. The updated release schedule can be found here.

Wolverine-3-Hugh-Jackman-and-Patrick-Stewart

Hugh Jackman discussed future Wolverine and X-Men movies and the possibility of an X-Men cross-over with the Marvel cinematic universe.

“I like to think there’s that possibility for all of it, and I would even like to think more that it doesn’t happen out of necessity, y’know, when someone’s run it into the ground or something. I optimistically love the idea of “What the hell, Batman versus Iron Man versus Wolverine!” Let’s just chuck ‘em in.

We’ll see what happens, but maybe as these things go on more and more they’ll want to and need to do all that stuff. I’m optimistic, I’d think it’d be great, but hey, it’s not my billions of dollars behind this promise. [laughs] It’s easy for us to speculate, “Why did they do that?!”

Agent Carter has primarily tied into the Marvel cinematic universe with connections to Captain America and SHIELD. Another connection has been the revelation that Carter’s former neighbor Dottie was trained in the Black Widow program. Bridget Regan discussed her role with Comic Book Resources.

Thor Female
I was a bit skeptical when I first heard that the Thor comic was to change to feature a female version of the character, but I saw it more as an attempt to bring in female readers as opposed to anything political. As I do not read it I cannot judge it myself but it does seem from the blogs that comic fans are receiving this favorably. Some conservative see it differently, both disliking the comic and turning it into a political argument. An article on the comic at Breitbart has the title, Female Thor Is What Happens When Progressive Hand-Wringing And Misandry Ruin A Cherished Art-Form. Vox Populi says it is  “exactly the same thing as a communist government taking over a capitalist society.”

BBC America has released a set of teasers for the upcoming season of Orphan Black, which returns on April 18.

Many people were predicting that Constantine would never make it to a second season after the decision to limit it to the first thirteen episodes this season. Now there are rumors that NBC might keep it alive, except move it to the Syfy network and renaming it Hellblazer. This would help with the goal of increasing the number of origianl shows on Syfy, and ratings expectations would be far lower. It is expected that if it does move to Syfy, it would also be able to concentrate more on the horror elements as opposed to trying to be a network procedural.

How To Get Away With Murder is really getting wild as it approaches its season finale. Despite all the flash backs earlier in the season regarding the attempts to burn Sam’s body, they now appear to be in serious danger of getting caught due to portions of his body being found. Didn’t any of them watch the first season of Breaking Bad? Knowing that the show will be coming back for a second season has major implications for any speculation as to how the season will end. Any of the students could conceivably get arrested but Annalise will have to continue with the show. Either she gets off, the mystery is dragged into next season, or perhaps they do a variation on the second season of Broadchurch in which she is arrested and next season deals with her trial. That would also spare them from having to either come up with a new season-long mystery or settle for case of the week episodes.

The Blacklist shows how great acting can save what otherwise would probably be a weak show. Repeatedly we get hope of really learning something and it turns out to be very little. We saw Elizabeth’s memories from the night of the fire, and then were told her memories might have been tampered with and are not accurate. There was more talk about the Fulcrum and it was ultimately found in Elizabeth’s bunny, but it is really just a McGuffin. I just could not imagine watching this show without James Spader.

The Americans remains the best drama which continues a story from season to season on television. (I used this awkward description to exclude Fargo and True Detective, two shows which some critics ranked above The Americans last season.) Personally I didn’t find packing Annelise into the suitcase all that cringe-worthy, but Elizabeth’s tooth-extractions were a different matter. Executive producers Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg discussed the creation of the scene in the video above, from Slate.

Frank Langella is also an excellent addition to the cast as their former and current handler Gabriel. Among the many history lessons from the series, the episode also showed today’s kids how television stations did not stay on around the clock, signing off for the night by playing The National Anthem and then running a test signal.  I haven’t bothered to watch, but I hear that the NBC rip-off, Allegiance, is doing terribly in both reviews and ratings and is not expected to last very long.

A television version of The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling airs tonight on BBC One. The Guardian has a review.

The Guardian reports that the creators of The IT Crowd are working on a sitcom set in space for Channel 4. Shows from Channel 4 have sometimes been made available in the United States over Hulu.

John Oliver Exposes Pharmaceutical Marketing

John Oliver and Last Week Tonight returned on HBO last weekend with a biting expose of the pharmaceutical industry (video above). Like Jon Stewart, Oliver’s comedy version of the news is far more revealing than what is seen on most actual news reports. Last Week Tonight also has the advantage of spending more time on a single story than either Jon Stewart or actual news shows.

Oliver pointed how how Americans are addicted to prescription drugs, spending almost $330 billion on them. He suggested that Walter White of Breaking Bad could have made a lot more money cooking up drugs for rheumatoid arthritis instead of meth. He lampooned the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to influence the prescribing habits of physicians, describing their ethics with this comparison:  “Drug companies are a bit like high school boyfriends; they are much more concerned with getting inside you than being effective once they are in there.”

Oliver concluded with a warning about doctors who take large amounts of money from the pharmaceutical industry with a mock public service commercial, Ask Your Doctor:

Here’s how it works. Money combines with the cash receptors in your doctor’s wallet to create fast-acting financial relief, so your doctor can rest easy and enjoy life.

Common side effects of doctors taking money may include chronic overprescription, unusually heavy cash flow, dependency on free samples, inflammation of confidence, affluenza and an increased tendency to suggest off-label prescriptions, which in turn can cause heart attack, stroke, loss of feeling in arms and legs, seizures, blurred vision, grinding of the teeth, temporary deafness, total blindness, numbness, sudden bursts of rage, angry erections lasting over 17 hours, and death.

Ask your doctor today if he’s taking pharmaceutical company money. Then ask your doctor what the money is for. Ask your doctor if he’s taken any money from the companies that make the drugs he’s just prescribed for you. Then ask yourself if you’re satisfied with that answer.

The story was quite accurate. If this was a documentary as opposed to a comedy show my only complaint is that it concentrates on one side of the story in portraying doctors who take money and are susceptible to pharmaceutical sales pitches. Many doctors actually are quite aware of the problem and many do not take any meaningful amount of money from pharmaceutical companies.

For example, Oliver quoted a drug rep as being disturbed when a doctor asked her for advice on treating a patient as she is just a poli-sci major. I often feel the opposite, when pharmaceutical reps act as if they are qualified to give me advice (invariably involving greater use of their drug), knowing how little pharmaceutical or medical background most of them have. While I do accept samples in order to help out patients, which requires me to have some contact with drug reps, I am certainly not going to consider anything they say to be anything other than advertising. One time I even had a drug rep run out of my office crying when I didn’t play long with her sales pitch. We also have not been too welcoming to the rare drug rep who attempts to get back into our sample room in order to put his drugs in front and hide the samples form the competition.

SciFi Weekend: The 100; Agents of SHIELD; Guardians of the Galaxy; Jessica Jones; Casting News and Rumors; Gotham; The Psychology of Batman; Whether The Doctor Had Sex With Queen Elizabeth I; Better Call Saul; Fresh Off The Boat; American Sniper; Boyhood; Bob Dylan

The 100 Coupe de Grace

The 100 continues to be one of the best science fiction series on television today. Last week’s episode, Coupe de Grace, had power struggles both among the Sky People and at Mount Weather as on this show no group is without internal conflict. Ever since the parents landed on earth there has been a question as to whether they would take control, or whether their kids who are far more familiar with the situation would continue to lead. Clarke made it clear when told her mother, “You may be the chancellor, but I’m in charge.” Alexander Haig couldn’t have said it any better. Kane has shown that he has learned a lot since the events of the first season as he accepts Clarke as leader. We also saw that Clarke is not one to be messed with when she partially emptied the Mountain Man’s oxygen tank just to make sure he hurried back with her message.

The power struggle at Mount Weather also demonstrated that on this show people and groups are never all good or all bad. President Wallace wasn’t going to go as far as his son, but he had been willing to preside over a system of using Grounders for forced blood transfusions. While his actions were not entirely good, they were understandable. While the actions of his son and Doctor Tsing were far worse, their motivation was also understandable. Despite their actions, the Mountain Men are not show as all evil, both with the actions of Maya and with Bellamy seeing the innocent children. It was a little sappier than usual for this show to have Bellamy meet the son of a man he had just killed.

There are also other complicated characters. Indra dislikes most people and has little use for the Sky People as a group, but also accepted Octavia for her strength. Lincoln has shown complexity as a character when he deviated from the views of the other Grounders. While generally displayed as a strong character, he also gave into the drug addiction used by the Mountain Men to control him. His fate remains a big question for the remainder of the season as, unlike other shows, we cannot just assume he will easily overcome the addiction and it will be forgotten.

Agents of SHIELD returns March 3. Trailer above. New cast members have been added for the Inhumans story line.  Interviews with returning cast members Adrianne Palicki, Nick Blood, and Clark Gregg here.

James Gunn discussed how Marvel is taking risks with Guardians of the Galaxy 2:

 “It’s not really based on anything. The story for Guardians 2 is an original story that I came up with that I started working on actually while I was shooting Guardians 1, and it’ll answer some of the questions that were put forth in the first movie about Peter Quill’s father and who he is and what’s going on with that. We’ll get to know some of the characters a little bit more and then we’re going to meet a couple of new characters who will be very important to Guardians movies and probably important to the Marvel Universe as a whole.” […]

“It’s different than what’s in the comic books. Peter Quill’s father is somebody different in the comics. So then when the movie came out, we got green-lit on the sequel right away. I went in and I sat down with those guys and I’m like, ‘Okay, here’s what I think the sequel should be.’ And they were like, ‘Oh, whoa. That’s risky, but okay.’ Now I’m going to turn over the story in a few short weeks and we’ll find out how well it works.”

But do we get a second awesome mix tape?

AKA Jessica Jones

ComicBookMovie has the first set pictures of Krysten Ritter in filming in A.K.A. Jessica Jones. The do not reveal anything meaningful about the story. I posted more news on Jessica Jones, along with the Daredevil teaser trailer, earlier in the week.

Among the more interesting casting rumors floating around this week, Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad might play the villain in Star Trek 3. Will there be a blue meth problem aboard the Enterprise? Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black is testing for a role in a Star Wars movie. How many roles will she play?

IO9 has an interesting look at what went wrong with the third season of Star Trek.

There are some big changes coming in DC Comics. More information here, here, and here.

milo-ventimiglia-39156_380_280

Variety reports that Milo Ventimiglia of Heroes and Gilmore Girls will appear in a multi-episode arc on Gotham:

Ventimiglia will play Jason Lennon, aka “the Ogre,” beginning in episode 19 of the Fox hit’s freshman season.

Handsome, wealthy and seductive, the Ogre is a serial killer who has been preying on the young women of Gotham for nearly a decade, luring them into his web and confronting them with a series of “tests” as he searches for his perfect mate. When the women fail to live up to his impossible standard, Lennon disposes of them quickly and viciously.

His obsessions, combined with the determination of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to bring him down, send both Gordon and Lennon — as well as those around them — on a course toward tragedy.

Reps for the show note that while Ventimiglia’s character shares a nickname with a villain from the DC Comics pantheon, the “Gotham” Ogre is unrelated to previous versions.

I am glad that Oliver returned on Arrow last week. With all the other spin-offs being made from the show, now there is talk that John Diggle might turn out to be John Stewart, the successor to Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. With the television and movie universes being kept separate on television, we might ultimately see a second version of the Justice League of America on CW and CBS.

The Psychology of Batman is discussed in the video above.

Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat debated an important question from Doctor Who: Did the Doctor ever have sex with Queen Elizabeth I?

Better Call Saul premiers tonight. Here is a review at The Guardian. Some critics have questioned the show. While they have pointed out good reasons why it will probably never be as good as Breaking Bad, few if any shows have ever been that good. With Vince Gilligan and the writing crew who finished up on Breaking Bad working on it, I am certainly going to give it a try. Considering the built-in  fan base from Breaking Bad, along with the lead in tonight from the return of The Walking Dead, I’d expect the pilot to do well.

Fresh off the Boat aired two episodes last week and the show looks quite promising, especially with the performance of Constance Wu and writing led by show runner Nahnatchka Khan (of Don’t Trust the B—- In Apartment 23, which stared Krysten Ritter.) The same night, Aya Cash of You’re The Worst had a brief appearance on Modern Family, playing a character with an attitude similar to Gretchen’s.

Looking at recent movies, I enjoyed American Sniper, but it did present a distorted view of the Iraq war. On the other hand, for a movie taking place in Texas, Boyhood surprisingly contains more accurate commentary on the war and recent politics. Plus he went to a book store event to purchase one of the Harry Potter books, just as my wife and I once did (without the costumes).

With Bob Dylan’s music coming up in last week’s post, it is worth mentioning that he stole the show at the Grammys’ annual charity gala on Friday.The Los Angeles Times has the full text of his speech. He began:

I’m glad for my songs to be honored like this. But you know, they didn’t get here by themselves. It’s been a long road and it’s taken a lot of doing. These songs of mine, they’re like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they’re on the fringes now. And they sound like they’ve been on the hard ground…

From there he thanked those who helped him early in his career and many of the artists who performed his songs.

SciFi Weekend: Sleepy Hollow; Better Call Saul; Jessica Jones; Star Trek; Star Wars; Peter Pan Live; Into The Woods

Sleepy Hollow Irving

The networks have avoided new episodes around the holidays for a while, but they seem to be more formally dividing the seasons in recent years, including making the midseason finales a major event. Sleepy Hollow ended the fall season with major changes. This included the death of Frank Irving and Henry killing Moloch. This leads to questions as to whether we will see Irving again in some form and whether this suggests redemption for Henry, or will he now become the major big bad?

Variety interviewed executive producer Len Wiseman:

So, you just killed the show’s Big Bad halfway through the second season, which is a pretty bold move. Talk me through what went into that decision.
We were always leading up to wanting to [see how] Henry comes into his own. Henry has devoted his life to Moloch; he has served Moloch; and then to find out that he is just a servant, that another will take his place, and to see that he doesn’t have an importance to Moloch, is a big deal. We were always leading up to that fight within Henry. So where do we go from there, what happens? We also really wanted to present the idea that it’s not all about Moloch, and that’s why we decided that Moloch doesn’t die at the very end of the season, he dies at the midseason finale, because he’s not the endgame.

Obviously Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Katrina both want Henry to be redeemed, and killing Moloch seems like a step in the right direction, but is it as simple as that for Henry, or are there other motivations at play?
To your point, “is it?” That’s really the question: who is he doing that for, who is he trying to protect? Is he trying to protect his mother? Maybe. Is he trying to save himself? Maybe. What is the reason why he killed Moloch, ultimately? That’s what we’ll find out in terms of Henry in the rest of the season. And [that’s] what our characters are going to question. It’s not going to be clear to them why that move was made and how he benefits from killing Moloch.

The episode also said farewell to Frank Irving — what was the impetus behind that decision from a storytelling standpoint?
That decision, in terms of an ultimate sacrifice… He is controlled and he had sold his soul to evil, so that’s the one last power that he has — the fact that his soul is already taken — in having the power to wield the Sword of Methuselah. It gives him a strength and a power because he’s spent so much time regretting that choice that he made when he was tricked into selling his soul. He wants to be able to use that trick on Henry.

Since Henry was holding Frank’s soul, now that he’s dead, does that mean he can be raised by Henry in some way, or is he actually free?
It’s a pure sacrifice, it’s a soul for a soul, so it is a real sacrifice. He’s free, and where his soul goes may be something that we will find out and our characters will search out, but it’s definitely a sacrifice and he knows it is — it’s not a trick.

How does the second half of the season differ from the first 11 episodes, now that Moloch is gone?
What really takes a different turn is between Katrina and Crane, as well. There’s a lot of curiosity about why Katrina is struggling with her powers and her place in this war, and I’ve heard people say is her character underutilized — I would say there’s a difference between underutilized and not realized. When she discovers her full potential, things really get out of control.

Other fall finales coming up include Skye meeting her father on Agents of SHIELD and The Flash meeting Reverse Flash (will it be Harrison Wells?)

When we last saw Deathstroke on Arrow, he was locked up in Oliver’s island prison. He will be returning later this season.

Sneak peak of Better Call Saul,  in which Saul meets Mike in the video above. The Breaking Bad spin-off starts February 8.

Krysten Ritter, who also appeared in Breaking Bad, has been cast to star in Jessica Jones:

The Jessica Jones drama is one of four shows centering on Marvel heroes that Netflix has picked up straight to series. The streaming service has committed to a minimum of four 13-episode series, which will begin rolling out in 2015 and are slated to culminate in a miniseries about The Defenders, comprised of a dream team of heroic characters.

Ritter will play Jessica Jones, the cynical, sardonic and tough-as-nails, but innately cool and sexy, title character. Jones is described as a superhero suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder that leads to her hanging up her costume and opening up her own detective agency, where she ends up helping people and assisting other superheroes.

Jessica Jones Kristen Ritter

Netflix has also  announced that the third season of House of Cards will become available February 27.

The final season of Parks and Recreation will start on January 13 and the series will conclude on February 24.

January Jones has already landed a post-Mad Men role in The Last Man On Earth, a post-apocalyptic comedy on Fox.

Benedict Cumberbatch, already having major genre roles in Star Trek Into Darkness and Sherlock, now enters the Marvel universe as Doctor Strange. The looks like a good move. Doctor Strange does not have as large a following as many of the other Marvel characters, and with the large number of comics-based movies being planned, a big star such as Cumberbatch will help to keep this from getting lost among bigger name movies.

Robert Orci was called in to direct the upcoming Star Trek movie after J.J. Abrams left for Star Wars. It has been announced that Orci is no longer directing. Edgar Wright’s name is coming up the most often as probable replacement but some fans are pushing for Jonathan Frakes. Frakes might be a great choice as someone who (as opposed to Abrams) understands Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek.

The second season of Broadchurch doesn’t start until next month but it is rumored that a third season is already planned.

Stephen Colbert explains why the new style lightsabers in the next Star Wars movie are a good idea in the video above. It might take you two weeks to understand.

Allison Williams said we could not hate-watch Peter Pan Live, but what about snark-watching? The play was so much more fun to watch while following on Twitter. Some reviewers have said that NBC should have used actors more accustomed to acting in plays. Both these critics and Allison Williams missed the point. Sure we made fun of her at times, but that does not mean we wanted a better stage actress in the role or like Allison Williams any less even though she wasn’t perfect in the role. The point was the fun of the evening, including watching Allison Williams live out her childhood dream of playing Peter Pan, not to see a top notch Broadway-quality play on television.

There is only one actress I would have wanted to play Peter Pan other than Allison Williams, Jane Krakowski. Here is her leaked audition tape:

The highlight of the play was when Peter began to fight the pirates and declared himself to be an Avenger. I hope that most people did not turn off the show before the credits were over and miss the scene with Peter and Tony Stark going out for schwarma. My only complaint about the play was that, in order to be more topical, the “dead maid” in the closet should have shouted out, “I can’t breathe.” I also don’t understand how Wendy grew up to be Minnie Driver and didn’t look a day older.

Anna Kendrick was among the most prolific, and amusing, celebrities tweeting during Peter Pan Live. There is symmetry here as the play began with Wendy reading Cinderella to her younger brothers and Anna Kendrick is playing Cinderella in the movie version of the Broadway play,  Into The Woods. The movie doesn’t come out until December 25 but Disney has released the audio below of Anna Kendrick singing a modified version of the Broadway version of On the Steps of the Palace. Audio below:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Lex Luthor; Agent Carter; Constantine; Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad Toys; The Fall; Revolution; Person of Interest; Arrow; The Flash

Doctor Who In The Forest Of The Night

With In The Forest of the Night, I feel that Doctor Who has gone overboard with preposterous solutions to problems this season. We had the golden arrow in Robot of Sherwood and then the mass of the moon growing because the moon is an egg in Kill The Moon. At least Robot of Sherwood was more a comedy, so I didn’t mind the ending as much.  Kill The Moon did at least address the question of what would happen after the egg hatched, when they knew the moon still existed. In The Forest of the Night made bad science was made even worse with such a weak attempt to explain away what happened.

Once we found out that a solar flare was threatening to destroy earth it became predictable that the trees were acting to save us, not attack humans. Although the Doctor also figured this out, are we to really believe that government agencies working on attempts to clear out paths through the trees would stop based upon a child’s text message? We got an indication of how unlikely this was earlier in the episode when we learned how a child was ignored, and medicated, rather than be listened to.

It is implausible enough that the trees could quickly cover the earth, including the oceans based upon the pictures shown of the entire planet. It also implausible that the trees would be impervious to fire, and would be able to save the earth from the solar flare. However if this is possible, any chance that they removed the excess carbon dioxide from the planet and reversed global warming?

The worst aspect of all of this was to have something so major, which clearly everyone would remember and be talking about for a long time, be dismissed as something which humans will quickly forget about. If Torchwood was still around, perhaps they could have been called to Retcon the planet.

The episode did touch on other themes, and was actually enjoyable to watch despite being so implausible. There was self-mocking by the Doctor (“I am Doctor Idiot”) and sort of an acknowledgment that the Doctor solves far too many problems with his sonic screwdriver (“Not everything can be fixed with a screwdriver. It’s not a magic wand.”). Peter Capaldi had a good line when he first ran into a young girl looking for him: “Do you have an appointment? You need an appointment to see the Doctor.” There was also more on Clara’s relationship with Danny and the Doctor, and the Doctor’s relationship with the planet earth. Plus there was another appearance from Missy, who  plays a major role in the two part season finale starting next week (with a Christmas episode to also follow). The synopsis for the finale, Death in Heaven, written by Steven Moffat:

With Cybermen on the streets of London, old friends unite against old enemies and the Doctor takes to the air in a startling new role. Can the mighty UNIT contain Missy? As the Doctor faces his greatest challenge, sacrifices must be made before the day is won.

The Doctor Who Extra is above.

Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, might also play the same villain in the Suicide Squad movie.

The Marvel television and movie universe has already had appearances by Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother. Now another cast member (even if rarely seen) joins the cast of Agent Carter. Lyndsy Fonseca, who played Ted Mosby’s daughter, will play Angie Martinelli, an aspiring actress who befriends Peggy (Hayley Atwell)

The TV Addict interviewed Neil Marshall, who has directed for Game of Thrones, and now directs Constantine, which premiered on Friday night.

Aaron Paul has responded to the decision of Toys R Us to not carry Breaking Bad toys.

We finally have an air date for second season of The Fall, an excellent mystery staring Gillian Anderson. It will air on an Irish television channel starting on November 9 and on BBC2 at approximately that time. Netflix released the entire first season on in the United States when it started to air internationally, and hopefully this will be the case with the second season.

Revolution creator Eric Kripke is still talking about continuing the story in some form and has discussed what he had planned for season three before it was canceled:

While he ruled out the show’s return to television, Kripke provided some insight into what a Revolution Season 3 would have looked like, “It was going to be great. It was gonna be this kind of treasure story where they were going to hear a legend of a very mythic treasure. It wasn’t gonna be gold, it was gonna be supplies.”
“It was gonna be this incredible stockpile of supplies. All the good guys and all the bad guys in the show were going to fight for this gold mine of material and supplies. It was going to be fun. It wasn’t going to be a war season. It was going to be a treasure hunt season, which would have fun and mixed up the show in a really interesting way. But, alas…”

Reading this does not have me very interested in seeing the story continue and still has me thinking that NBC was right in canceling the show.

Person of Interest had another episode dealing with Samaritan and artificial intelligence last week, showing Samaritan get involved in politics. I hope we see more of this.

Arrow Laurel and Sara

Now that the Black Canary has been killed in the season premier of Arrow, everyone is convinced that Laurel will take on the role as in the comics. Katie Cassidy even discussed this:

“It’s so sad when somebody leaves,” Cassidy told reporters on the “Arrow” set in Vancouver last week. “Caity and I were really close, and she is a great actress, and we loved having her. It’s always sad when somebody leaves, but exactly like Colin Donnell, it’s like he took one for the team, because something drastic needed to happen, and he is an amazing an actor as well. It’s always tough when you lose an actor, but she seemed to be very supportive, and yes, of course I was excited to continue to see what was going to develop for Laurel and her journey, and hopefully one day becoming the Black Canary.”

The Flash Things You Can't Outrun

The Flash, along with Jane the Virgin, have received full season orders from CW. Last week’s episode of The Flash, Things You Can’t Outrun, included flashbacks to the night of the particle accelerator launch, ending with a scene clearly showing that Harrison Wells knew what would happen to Barry Allen to turn him into The Flash. When he started the accelerator he said, “I feel like I’ve waiting for this day for centuries.” He clearly has knowledge of the future. Is he also a time traveler, and how long has he really been around for?

Time travel is clearly going to play a role in this series. I heard one reviewer (sorry, I don’t recall which), state that in the flash backs to the night of Barry’s mother’s death there are both yellow and red streaks present, speculating that the red streak was The Flash. It certainly is possible that Barry Allen at some point goes back in time to try to save his mother. I would go on from there to speculate that a rescue form his future self could be how young Barry suddenly appeared far from the murder scene.

There is a lot of speculation about where the series is going from those who have been following the comics. For example, Giant Freakin Robot speculates on another time traveling super hero who might wind up on the show.

Before this happens, Felicity (Emily Bret Richards) visits in a cross-over episode from Arrow, going on an awkward double date between Felicity/Barry and Iris/Eddie, and they confront Captain Cold.

Hillary Clinton Was Born In Kenya

The right wing has come up with letters tying Hillary to Saul Alinsky when young–just like Muslim Socialist Barack Obama. It is only a matter of time until someone uncover’s Hillary Clinton’s secret Kenyan birth certificate.

The right wing blogosphere is salivating over these letters. To them, this proves she is a radical leftist, no matter how conservative the left considers Clinton to be. The average voter is asking, “Saul who?” or perhaps “Is he the guy Carrie hung out with on Homeland?” or maybe “Isn’t Saul Walter White’s lawyer?”

It is also strange that to the right these  innocuous letters suggest that she is secretly a radical leftist, but her past as a Goldwater Girl doesn’t mean she is  secretly a Goldwater conservative.

Meanwhile Hillary Clinton, following her recent trip to Iowa, is next going to New Hampshire. To believe she is mounting a campaign for the nomination is certainly not a wacky conspiracy theory.

(Post revised when cross posted at The Moderate Voice)

SciFi Weekend: Extant, The Last Ship, and other Summer Shows; Community and other Genre Comedy; Arrow; Doctor Who Leaks; Harry Potter; Time Travel Lover

extant__101_008b_wide-e02c7108ff9729d6fa1b2417c42e455d7ca4dc31-s40-c85

We were spoiled by the high quality of television shows airing in late spring, including Orphan Black, Continuum, Hannibal, Fargo, and Game of Thrones. The summer season does not look like it will come close, but at least we have come a long way from the days in which we were limited to the major networks which only aired reruns. So far Extant appears to be the most promising. Sure, being a network science fiction show it is bound to degenerate into all the standard cliches, but the first episode was interesting and well made. If nothing else, it looks better than Under the Dome and True Blood (which I’m only sticking with because it is the last season). It might help that Mickey Fisher, who wrote the pilot, says he was inspired by Steven Moffat and Doctor Who.  Spoiler TV lists seven facts  you need to know about Extant.

My next show on my list of new summer shows worth viewing (of those which have actually started) is The Last Ship. It is certainly not a must-see genre show at this point, but it has been entertaining. The show does have a little of the early Battlestar Glactica feel in which one military ship is on their own. Instead of Cylons, they are being chased by a Russian ship which is after the research they have so far, and the scientist working on it, regarding the plague which has killed off most of the planet. Sure, one would think that with the possibility of the crews of only two ships left alive on earth (along with some isolated people elsewhere) they might realize there is no point in fighting and that they can work together, but that would leave out most of the drama. Besides, ultimately the surviving humans and Cylons did learn to work together. With 24 concluding tomorrow, The Last Ship might be a good replacement for fairly mindless action. The shorter season of 24 has certainly helped the storyline on 24, with it not dragging events out for weeks (or hours on the show) as was often the case in the past.

After watching the premiere of The Almighty Johnsons I plan to pass on the show unless I hear more favorable reports on it. This is a show from New Zealand now carried by Syfy about a family in which the members learn they are reincarnations of Norse gods when they turn twenty-one. Their powers are rather limited, sort of matching the low-budget feel of the show. One brother has the power to convince people to believe his stories, and uses it to get women into bed. Another has the power to turn things hot or cold, and uses it to make a woman’s nipples become erect under her shirt. That’s hardly enough to sell me on the show so far, but the pilot does suggest a more serious storyline is beginning.

In other upcoming shows, SpoilerTV has an advanced look at The Strain. The Wall Street Journal also reviews the show. BBC America will premiere The Intruders on August 23.

Based upon last season, the best show of the summer is probably returning tonight, Masters of Sex. Hitflix reports that the second season is better than ever.

Community Renewed

The fate of genre comedy for the upcoming year is now becoming clearer. The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for three years. Community will no longer air opposing The Big Bang Theory but was saved by Yahoo last week, and Joel McHale sounds happy about the opportunity of setting Dan Harmon free without the constraints of network television:

McHale told The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s fans will be pleased by Community‘s shift from NBC, where it has aired for the past five seasons, to Yahoo Screen. “I’m so excited because now there will be no commercial breaks, the restraints I’m assuming will be way less and it’s like this just playground now for [show creator] Dan[Harmon].” Added McHale: “Unencumbered Dan Harmon is very exciting.”

The actor said that Yahoo Screen execs “really believe in the show” and have the marketing muscle required to spread the word about the show’s new home. He doesn’t have trepidation about airing new episodes on an unproven original-content provider, given how much success Netflix has had with its original programming. “I think Community fans have proven that they will find the show,” he said.

Sony Pictures Television has committed to 13 new episodes of the series, launching this fall, although McHale said that more episodes could get made “if [the first batch] goes well.” The entire cast will appear in all 13 episodes, and as far as the contracts are concerned, McHale said he won’t be making less money from Sony per episode than he was from NBCUniversal. “I really like money, so it works out great,” McHale joked.

According to McHale, all of his co-stars are looking forward to bringing the show back. “I know the cast is excited because it’s a whole new frontier, and we wont be up against Big Bang Theory, and we know Yahoo’s really excited to get us out there, and that is incredibly helpful when the people who are paying for you to make it are excited about it,” he added.

Now that Community fans are getting their sixth season, what about that movie? “People are already talking about” the possibility of streaming the much-hoped-for film on Yahoo Screen, McHale said. He added that Harmon and executive producer Chris McKenna plan to make the movie “epic” and not just “like an episode,” although McHale doesn’t think that anyone has started working on the film’s script yet.

Selfie - Episode 1.01 - Pilot - Promotional Photo

Of potential new comedy shows with a genre connection which I have preciously discussed, one was picked up to air in the fall and the other wasn’t. The Amy Pond Show, officially called Selfie, was picked up by ABC. I’ve heard questions regarding its quality, but of course I’ll check out any show staring Karen Gillan and John Cho.

How I Met Your Dad, the spin off of How I Met Your Mother, was not picked up, with CBS insisting upon some changes in the pilot. Initially there were reports that rather than changing the pilot, Thomas and Bays planned to try selling it elsewhere.  It looks like it is dead for now, with the possibility that they might revive plans to try to sell the show in the future. I wonder if it might not be better to develop a new comedy with a new idea rather than rehashing what they already did.

Arrow Olicity

The synopsis for the first episode of season three of Arrow reveals that Detective Lance remains alive, and that Oliver finally asks Felicity out on a date:

In the aftermath of this victory, Season 3 opens with Arrow now a hero to the citizens of Starling. Crime is down, people feel safer, and Captain Lance even calls off the Anti-Vigilante Task Force. Basking in his success, Oliver believes he can finally have a private life and asks Felicity out on a date. But the second Oliver takes his eye off the ball, a deadly villain reappears in Starling, forcing Oliver to realize that he can never be Oliver Queen — not as long as the city needs The Arrow.

There may be more superheroes in season three, including the casting of Brandon Routh (who played Superman in Man of Steel) as Ray Palmer, The Atom.

An unparalleled scientist and inventor, Ray will play an unexpected role in the lives of Oliver and (rumored love interest) Felicity as the new owner of Queen Consolidated. Palmer’s plans for Queen Consolidated’s Applied Sciences Division will be shrouded in mystery.

News came  out last week that Orphan Black has officially been renewed for a third season. We also found that Tatiana Maslany was snubbed for an Emmy award a second time.

TrekMovie.com looks at How Seinfeld Influenced Star Trek’s Legacy

Besides having a movie versions of Gone Girl coming out in October, earlier books by Gillian Flynn are being filmed. Dark Places will be released as a movie in September and her first novel, Sharp Objects is now being made into a television series.

Five scripts of episodes of the upcoming season of Doctor Who have leaked on line. Steven Moffat called this, “‘horrible, miserable and upsetting’. Since then unfinished black and white versions of the first two episodes of the season have also leaked on line.

First we heard that Better Call Saul would be a prequel to Breaking Bad. Next there were reports that it would take place over different eras. Now it reportedly will be a prequel series taking place in 2002. Now we might never learn if Jesse made it to Alaska.

J.K. Rowling has posted a short story about Harry Potter set during the Quidditch world cup final at the Pottermore site. Apparently there might be some marital problems between Harry and Ginny.

If you miss Continuum now that it is finished for the season, here’s another time travel story, Time Travel Lover: It is about a guy about to hook up with a girl who is then visited by his future self:

SciFi Weekend: The Leftovers; Under The Dome; Community; Arrow; Better Call Saul

Leftovers Living Reminders

Two shows based upon novels about a change to a small town  premiered, The Leftovers and the second season of Under the Dome. Both have aspects which are bound to be frustrating to viewers who prefer to see hard science fiction.

The Leftovers, based on Tom Perotta’ novel, is about a town in upstate New York three years after a rapture-like event in which two percent of the world’s population suddenly disappeared. Perotta is a religious skeptic, and his story is not about the Biblical rapture. It appears to be random as to who disappeared, having nothing to do with religious conviction. He is also not a fan of typical science fiction and was not interested in creating an explanation for what happened. Instead he dealt solely with how people would react to an event they could not explain. The pilot did appear promising, provided viewers are content to follow the drama related to the people involved.

Under the Dome, based upon the Stephen King novel, picked up at the point of the cliff hanger from the first season. The Dome showed yet new powers including effects on magnetism and brain waves. One of the more curious elements was when Junior was unconscious and he dreamed he spoke with his mother, who we thought had committed suicide. Later in the episode there was a scene in which it did appear that she is actually alive. There were also new characters introduced, old characters killed, and the possible conversion of  Big Jim from evil to good due to influence from the Dome.

Under the Dome is much closer to science fiction than The Leftovers, but the ability of the Dome to change how the characters behave by the sudden, and unexplained, development of new powers is even more frustrating than Perotta’s decision to offer no explanation at all for the event. At least I feel that The Leftovers is playing more fairly with viewers, setting up an unexplained event but sticking with reality in how people dealt with it from that point on. Under the Dome can, does, rewrite the rules at any point. Yet despite all its faults, there remains something compelling about Under the Dome which keeps me watching.

Community - Season 5

Just when it appeared that Greendale would not be saved, an unexpected source gave Community a sixth season. After negotiations broke down with Hulu, Yahoo picked up the show, with Dan Harmon and the full cast returning. The episodes will be supported by ads, have the same budget as the network episodes, and might have the freedom of running longer than twenty-one minutes.

While Community might not have done well by network standards, its following is quite large by the standards of a digital programing source trying to establish itself as yet another alternative to conventional television like Netflix and Amazon are doing. I would expect that Yahoo might want more than just thirteen episodes, but it now looks like a movie is being considered before a seventh season according to Sony’s president of programming and production,  Zack Van Amburg:

What are the prospects for Community beyond season six? Is this a final season? Could it hit seven seasons?

I don’t know, let’s see how our movie does! Isn’t that our plan? There’s no way we’re not making the movie now! I think once we make the movie, let’s look up and decide how much more Community the world wants. We promised six seasons and a movie, how much more do you want?! [Laughs.] … I’d be lying if I told you that we have not had some very early and preliminary conversations that are very exciting about what a potential movie could be and who might direct it. It’s early but it’s completely in our thought process.

Could the movie stream on Yahoo or are you looking for a theatrical release?

I don’t know; that’s the part that is preliminary. It was not part of our Yahoo conversation. We were singularly focused on getting the series picked up but I think anything is possible.

Arrow Devon Aoki

There is further casting news regarding Arrow:

Devon Aoki has landed a major recurring guest role on the hit CW drama Arrow from Warner Bros TV. Aoki will play Tatsu Yamashiro, a character that first appeared in the Green Arrow origin series graphic novels published by DC Comics. She is a Japanese martial arts expert who wields a deadly sword, a blade from which her codename Katana is derived. In Arrow, Tatsu will be one of Oliver’s mentors in the flashbacks and a critical influence on his journey to eventually become The Arrow of present day.

Georgina Haig, who played Etta Bishop in the final season of Fringe, has been cast as Elsa from Frozen on Once Upon A Time.

Better Call Saul will jump between several decades and might include the era during Breaking Bad, possibly allowing for the return of Walter White. While the series will not air until 2015, AMC has already picked it up for a second season.

After HBO passed on doing an adaption of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Starz has announced plans to make a series based upon the novel.

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Fargo; Continuum; Game of Thrones; Better Call Saul; Utopia; Under The Skin

Orphan Black Sarah Surrendered

The second season finale of Orphan Black, officially titled By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried, will probably be forever remembered as the Clone Club Dance Party episode by fans. The happy reunion was in the midst of an episode which started with Dyad being more horrifying than ever and major revelations at the end.

It was obvious that things were not going to go well when Sarah offered her unconditional surrender in hopes of being able to see Kira after her abduction by Rachel. This did not work out so well, with Dyad moving from consent (while handcuffed) to harvesting her eggs to wheeling her in for a forced oophorectomy. Fortunately Sarah did escape due to a combination of science and new allies, with Kira playing a part in both.

The reunion and dance party, reminiscent of Sarah and Helena singing Sugar, Sugar earlier in the season, provided a needed lighter moment in the midst of the episode. Tatiana Maslany must have been exhausted in playing all four clones together, and the scenes took two days to film.

Marian appears to be a valuable ally, but on this show you can never be certain where anyone stands. As if there aren’t already enough factions involved, now there is Topside. I always assumed that Project Leda was a mythological reference to twins, meaning Sarah and Helana, but the naming means far more with the revelation that Project Castor involves making male clones as soldiers. The importance of  Rachel watching the old videos of herself as a child became clear when we saw Charlotte, who was identical to Rachel (and the other clones) at a younger age. She was the only one of over four hundred attempts to repeat the project. Clearly Dyad is lacking needed information.

The episode ended well for Sarah who recovered Kira and escaped from Dyad, but poorly for Rachel who had a pencil propelled into her eye at high velocity, after seeing the second death of a father. We don’t know if she is dead, had brain or other damage, or will return appearing well next season with either a genetically engineered replacement eye or an eye patch. (I vote for the eye patch, and give her a parrot). We finally know the truth about Paul, as well as how far Mrs. S will go when she enabled the kidnapping of Helena in exchange for Paul’s assistance in rescuing Kira and Sarah. Things are more hopeful for Cosima, who I suspect will find her own cure from the notes from Dr. Duncan in the copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau which Kira pulled out. I also wonder if the container of her eggs left behind by Helena will provide needed genetic material.

We also have a  new set of clones to watch. It is doubtful that Mark realizes he is a clone, and certain that the Proletheans did not realize it, or they would have certainly treated him differently. There are also the clones now in the military (with at least one seen after Helena’s capture) as well as the one (a defective one?) hidden in Helena’s house.

Orphan Black Season 2 Finale

Orphan Black co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett gave numerous interviews. At times they were flippant, such as in giving the Death Star in response to a question as to where Helena was taken, or saying that Dr. Duncan’s notes were the Colonel’s secret recipe.  Other answers did provide interesting information as to how they got to the finale, and possibly what is to come. They told The Hollywood Reporter about their plans to introduce male clones, the decision for it to be Prolethean Mark, and how this changed the original plans for the scene when Mark and Paul met in the bar.

Let’s start with the introduction of the male clone. When did you decide that that would be the season-two endgame?

Graeme Manson: It was a plan that we had at the end of the first season. We thought it was a pretty good way to open a big door to a whole new dimension of the conspiracy and a nice throw to a new season.

Was there any serious thought over making the male clone someone other than Prolethean Mark? 

John Fawcett: We knew that we wanted to introduce a male side to the conspiracy. To some degree, we talked a lot about what the possibilities would be for that. It was important that the right decision was made, and we talked about everyone. We had crazy conversations about who the male clone could be. Ultimately, the decision was made that the story thread that made the most sense was the male clone would be Prolethean Mark.

Manson: And for a few reasons. One, it really doubled the end of the season back on the beginning nicely.

Fawcett: It’s a bookend. To be honest, the character of Mark wasn’t supposed to live beyond episode six. There was a whole plan for him to die quite violently.

Manson: At the hand of Paul!

Fawcett: There was a scene at the end of episode six where Paul and Mark meet up in the bar while Helena meets Jesse. We know that both these men are on Sarah and Helena’s trail respectively, and it was going to be a mano-a-mano showdown between the two of them in which Paul is going to murder, or kill, Mark. But through the first few episodes of the season, we realized that Ari [Millen] playing Mark was not a character we wanted to kill. He was doing such interesting work, and so we made the decision to save him, and right about that time, we were actually also making the decision on who we wanted to see the male clone be at the end of the film. A further little bit of interest in that, Ari actually, we kept that a secret from Ari, and he didn’t find that out until just before the finale scripts were passed up. Graeme had to call him and tell him.

They also said that, “Marion is apparently a new ally, so she’s important going forward. And Cal is pretty important going forward too.” Note the word “apparently.”

Fargo Finale

The finale of Fargo provided a degree of redemption for some of the characters. Early on my assessment of the show was that pretty much everyone on the show is an idiot except for Malvo and Molly. I did revise this to include Mollie’s father among the intelligent characters, but for most of the series he only had a small part. He was at  his best in the finale sitting out on the porch to protect his granddaughter by marriage.

With the jump ahead one year Lester was supposed to have ceased being the loser, but he still made major mistakes in confronting Malvo, not taking his advice to walk away, saying yes to him, and finally in guaranteeing  Malvo would be an enemy by hitting him but leaving him alive in last week’s episode.I’m not certain if Malvo’s plans from the start was to kill Lester after he helped dispose of the bodies. It is also possible that Malvo did see Lester as sort of an amusing friend and had no plans yet to kill him. Regardless, you cannot hit someone like Malvo, leave him alive, and then return to your home town.

In the finale it appears Lester was intended to portrayed as being smarter at figuring out how things will work in different scenarios. He figured out the FBI agent’s riddle, and more impressively out smarted Malvo at his home. Being shown as smarter than the loser at the start of the series was as close to redemption that Lester could receive. It was bad enough that he killed his first wife and later framed his brother and put a gun in a child’s back pack. The final straw was the manner in which he set up his second wife to get killed. Although portrayed as smarter in the end, he still was not smart enough to figure out what would happen when he ran out on the thin ice, although he was doomed regardless of whether he ran.

It was obvious what was going to happen to Lester when he ran out onto the ice, and I had a similar sense of dread when Gus went into Malvo’s cabin. I though he was smart the first time he encountered Malvo by backing away and remaining alive, and that going into Malvo’s cabin was as foolish as Lester confronting Malvo last week. Fortunately for Gus, Malvo returned wounded after his confrontation with Lester, giving Gus the upper hand. This was clearly intended to be his redemption for his cowardice the first time he ran into Malvo, but I initially didn’t see things working out this way as I saw Gus as being smart rather than a coward, not requiring redemption. Fortunately for Gus, nobody questioned how he shot an unarmed and injured man. We know that doing anything else would be unsafe, and Gus gets extra points for being smart enough to shoot him immediately, announcing that he figured out Malvo’s riddle but not taking any more time to explain. How many people have died in similar television confrontations due to not putting the opponent away immediately?

While the show centered around the anti-heroes Lester and Malvo, Molly was the hero of the story. Some reviewers have expressed disappointment that Molly wasn’t the one to take down Malvo, but that was really Gus’s story line. There was also some justice to Malvo’s demise being a combination of actions by both Lester and Gus. To Molly, Malvo was someone on the periphery regarding Lester’s story that she had virtually no actual contact with. I was a little disappointed that Molly didn’t come up with the definitive proof of both Lester and Malvo’s guilt by her own detective work as opposed to Malvo’s tapes providing the final proof. Still, Molly was proved right, and vindicated when told that she was to be made chief. The television show now paralleled the movie with having the pregnant police chief, even if Molly might not become chief until after she has her baby. Like Jerry Lundegaard in the movie, Lester Nygaard was confronted by the police in the jurisdiction each fled to, giving symmetry between the two in not having Molly be the one to capture Lester.

All in all it was a satisfactory conclusion to a self-contained story. Like Breaking Bad, the finale followed directly from the set up for the show with no surprises or gimmicks. The anti-hero met his expected doom in each case. As another example of how minor points were wrapped up in a tidy manner, the used car salesman who became Malvo’s final victim was seen earlier in the season. He wound up not buying life insurance despite Lester’s warning that you never know what might happen. On the other hand, we never did learn the fate of some minor characters, such as Lester’s brother who presumably would have been released from prison when the truth about the murder of Lester’s life was discovered. The money remains buried, as in the movie, and I suspect that it will turn up again if there is another season of Fargo.

Fargo billy_bob_thorton_fargo_ep_110_a_p

Speakeasy interviewed show writer Noah Hawley. Here are his comments on a possible future season and Lester’s fate:

I’d love to hear what you have in mind for the next installment.

Well, you never want to overstay your welcome. The question is, if there were another chapter to this story, what’s next and how do you do it? We wrapped production a week before we premiered. I literally just wrapped post-production on the final episode last week. So I’m excited to take a couple weeks and not think about it, and then come back and see if I can do something as good or better, which is really the only reason to do it, and FX agrees with me. They bought this as a miniseries and would be quite happy if this is it. That said, if I could find a way to turn this into something that continues to bring in revenue, everyone would be happy with that. But we’re all proud of the work we’ve done.

What was the significance of Lester getting swallowed up by frozen lake?

Nature corrected. That ending was in place at the end of the outline process. In the movie Bill Macy is arrested across state lines, not by Marge but by whatever random cops found him. I like the idea that Lester met his end somewhere that was totally unconnected to Molly or anyone who would take his death personally. We shot the show up in Calgary and we spent six months or so pointing the cameras away from the mountains, then we turned around and went up into the Rockies.

Continuum Kiera Brad

The season finale of Continuum airs tonight on Showcase (Friday on Syfy) but a lot more happened in last week’s episode, The Dying Minutes. Both Sonya and Kiera had complicated plans to pull off. I totally believe that the tech guy at Piron would have fallen for Sonya’s geek girl act. I can’t help but wonder if there will be another reset tonight, or at the start of next season, with a jump to another timeline following the certain death of Sonya, the possible death of Dillon, and the Freelancer blood bath. Or perhaps the action will shift up north, with Alec and Emily, Kiera and Brad, and at least part of Liber8 heading in that direction. The introduction of the Traveler adds yet more complexities. Does that mean that Wesley Crusher shows up next?

In an interview with TV Guide Canada, Simon Bary sounds like he is saying that Sonya’s death might be permanent, along with a conclusion of the Liber8 story line. He was also asked about the Traveler:

TVGuide.ca: Another huge episode. Following up on last week’s realization that nothing Liber8 could do would change history, Sonya allowed herself to be arrested and then detonated a bomb in the police precinct, killing herself and grievously injuring Dillon. Was her exit an homage to Kagame?
Simon Barry: In light of what had happened, this was one of the few plays that she had left, to be a martyr in the way that Kagame was.

TVGC: What was Lexa’s reaction when you told her what was going to happen to Sonya?
SB: Lexa is a real pro, and she understood that the only thing worse than being killed as a character is not being used well as a character, and I think that because we were in the position that we were coming to a conclusion in the Liber8 story that the opportunities for her going forward were not as interesting. When I mentioned it to her the first time, she was pretty clear that the opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory was something she not only thought was possible, but she liked it.

TVGC: I’ve enjoyed Sonya’s back story this season; learning about her past and how she became part of Liber8 has been really interesting.
SB: We knew early on that we wanted to fill in some bits and pieces and that this was one of our options. We definitely felt like, in Episode 7 for example where we see the Sonya back story, was one way for us to kind of honour the Sonya storyline. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have more opportunities to tell Sonya’s story. As you know on this show if somebody dies in the present, it just means that storyline may or may not be over. We certainly have many more stories about Liber8, before they went back in time, that we want to pursue in Season 4.

TVGC: You introduced another new character last night in The Traveler. Is he the first Freelancer? What can you tell us?
SB: The speculation, at least from Kiera’s perspective, is that the original Freelancer that she had been told about by Catherine, was sent back 1,000 years to set up this safety net and it had to start with one person. In The Traveler we thought it would be interesting to take that journey. And obviously given the technology that he has to be able to bring Curtis back, we are alluding to the fact that there is technology embedded within him that is related to time travel.

The show runners discussed the season finale and plans for the fifth season of Game of Thrones with Entertainment Weekly.

I also felt like the season finale of Orange is the New Black aired this week as this is when I finished the season on Netflix. No spoilers, but it was a very satisfying conclusion for several plot lines.

Defiance stated its second season with the season premiere primarily setting things up following all the changes in the first season finale, with little actual story. I have not decided yet whether I will continue to watch. Last year I finally gave in and watched later in the summer, after being underwhelmed initially, and did get somewhat more interested as the season went on.

AMC has already renewed Better Call Saul for a thirteen episode second season. The first season, to air in 2015, contains ten episodes.

The second season of Utopia finally appears on the U.K.’s Channel 4 in July. A trailer is above.

Ok, I admit that when I received this link to the nude scenes of Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin I couldn’t resist clicking.