SciFi Weekend: News From San Diego Comic Con On Star Trek Discovery, The Orville, & Doctor Who

We learned from the Star Trek: Discovery panel at San Diego Comic Con that Christopher Pike will be taking command of Discovery, but it is not how much of the season this will apply to. Even before the second season of Star Trek: Discovery returns, CBS All Access will be showing more Star Trek in the form of shorts. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Called Star Trek: Short Treks,each of the four-episode series will run between 10-15 minutes and feature deeper storytelling surrounding the characters and themes from Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe. The series will launch in the fall and roll out monthly, helping to keep awareness of Discovery high before its return in January 2019.

Rainn Wilson will reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a short he will direct. Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures, Showtime’s upcoming City on a Hill) will star in another installment as Craft, a man who finds himself the only human on board a deserted ship. Additional episodes will explore Saru’s (Doug Jones) backstory as the first Kelpien to join Starfleet and Tilly’s (Mary Wiseman) journey aboard the USS Discovery and her friendship with an unlikely partner.

“There is no shortage of compelling stories to tell in the Star Trek universe that inspire, entertain and either challenge our preconceived ideas or affirm long-held beliefs, and we are excited to broaden the universe already with Short Treks,” Discovery showrunner Alex Kurtzman said. “Each episode will deliver closed-ended stories while revealing clues about what’s to come in future Star Trek: Discovery episodes. They’ll also introduce audiences to new characters who may inhabit the larger world of Star Trek.”

This should serve two purposes–keeping alive interest in Star Trek until Discovery returns, and giving fans a reason to continue their subscription to CBS All Access as opposed to only subscribing during the months when Discovery is on.

The following trailer was released:

Other news includes an announcement that Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) will guest-star as Number One. While Spock will be on the show, there is no answer as to whether it will by young Spock in flashbacks or Spock serving on the Enterprise. The trailer does indicate that Spock will be on leave at the start of the season, but will be involved in the problem which leads to Pike taking command of Discovery.

Alex Kurtzman was evasive when asked if Lorca will return after his apparent death last season. Culmets will be back, but we don’t know how. There was a hint that it had something to do with mycelium.

The video of the Star Trek: Discovery panel can be seen in the video above. Alex Kurtzman also discussed canon:

We know we owe you a lot of answers how Discovery connects to canon, and you will get a lot of those answers this season. Guaranteed. You’re just not going to get them the way you expect them. A lot of what the first season was about was about the crew finding each other, and coming together, and forming the foundation of a family. Now they really are a family. And so much of what’s will happen over the course of season 2 is going to test them constantly. And they’re even going to have to make choices between their real family and their starship family. So a lot of family pain is going to be a major part of it. As you may have seen in the trailer, there are these mysterious signals that appear. The signals are very significant, and form a lot of the investigative trail of why the Enterprise is here, and where they’re heading. And it will lead to a lot of surprises.

Earlier in the month I noted the plans for  James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The next in the line of Star Trek themed spirits was introduced at SDCC: Ten-Forward Vodka. The manufacturer plans to send a batch into space, which will be blended with the larger stock so they can promote this by saying that every bottle contains a tiny bit of space-bound booze.

Star Trek Discovery will be returning in early 2019 with exact date not yet announced.

Seth MacFarlane said at The Orville panel that the initial marketing for the show gave the wrong idea about it. From TV Guide:

“Initially, I think the show was a little misrepresented in Season 1. It was marketed as a comedy, a hard comedy. I’m not sure why. I think there was a little bit of worry that this was so new and weird and different that it wouldn’t land if it wasn’t put into a box. It wasn’t necessarily representative of the show,” he said. “The nice thing is that the fans stuck with it and saw what we were, the tonal balance that we were riding and they embraced it.”

MacFarlane clarified that the marketing team for Season 2 was staying more in line with what he believes is the core ethos of the show.

“The show was always intended to be what it is now. I’ll start this by saying that I think the work that the marketing team at Fox did on the season is stellar. They just did a knockout job with [the Season 2] trailer,” he explained.

The feel of Season 2 is going to be a lot bigger in Season 1 as MacFarlane says the writing team is taking more risks in their sophomore season.

“There are two huge changes — the experiment was a success so in Season 2 the storytelling is more assertive and bold. There’s some narratively bold stuff that was just amazing to make,” MacFarlane teased. “What you’re going to see in Season 2 is a show that’s even more comfortable in its footing as far as existing in that Goldilocks zone [between sci-fi and comedy]… Every episode feels like a movie.”

IndieWire adds:

“This show was a tonal experiment of sorts,” MacFarlane said. “Comedy and sci-fi when you blend them together, they don’t always mix well. In features they do, but television is kind of hard to sustain. The pleasant surprise for me was that fans and viewers were willing to let us tell a story. They weren’t waiting for the next joke to come.”

MacFarlane said “different stories call for different tones,” just like life has different tones, and the comedy in “The Orville” was always meant as a “garnish” more than the main course. To that end, he said early advertisements for the hourlong series weren’t in line with the final product.

“Initially, I think the show was a little misrepresented,” MacFarlane said. “It was marketed as a comedy… I’m not sure why. Maybe there was a worry this was so new and weird and different it wouldn’t land.”

Video from The Orville panel above.

The Orville will return on December 30. More on the second season here, including that the second season will be at least one episode longer than the first as one episode was held back.

We have known for a while that we will have a new set of faces when Doctor Who returns, and Den of Geek has some additional information. This includes that, “Chibnall is writing five episodes and that two of the five guest writers on this series are women, including the first-ever woman of colour to contribute to the TV show.”

Deadline interviewed Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker:

DEADLINE: Jodie, besides this being your first Comic-Con, you are the first female Doctor Who. What is the significance of that for you?

WHITTAKER: Oh, it’s huge, really. I mean, your whole mind-set is programmed from being a kid that to play the Doctor, you have to be a man, and if you’re a girl you can be, could be a companion. So as an actor, for those rules to be thrown out the window at this kind of perfect time is really exciting.

DEADLINE: Why?

WHITTAKER: Because for the first time, the Doctor regenerates, but regenerates in this completely brand new way, which is really liberating. For me, now approaching the part it’s really liberating because there’s no rules for me in this way. Also, it’s a perfect job for any actor because even though there’s the 12 previous shoes that you’re filling, you’re able creatively to make it your own. So, I think rather than feeling the pressure of that, I feel the excitement of that.

DEADLINE: Was the heritage of the show an advantage?

WHITTAKER: Well, no season of Doctor Who is like the previous in many ways and neither is a new Doctor, so coming at it with fresh eyes was helpful in so many ways because nobody knows the character before born into this new body. I just wanted to, I suppose, use my newness in myself to be able to bring that energy to the show. Then also, you know, there’s so many references. You’re never going to have a Doctor Who series without references to things that have gone before. So, I obviously have done enough research to know what I’m talking about.

DEADLINE: Clearly, you know the 10th Doctor, David Tennant, from your mutual work on Broadchurch. Did you discuss the role and the show with him or other of your Gallifreyan predecessors?

WHITTAKER: (Laughs) I’ve known David for years, but at first, I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone because I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that I got the job. So, it was the only the weekend before it was officially announced that I was able to speak to, very briefly, Peter, Matt Smith and David.

DEADLINE: Did they have any words of Time Lord wisdom?

WHITTAKER: I think the thing that was the overriding message was that you are going to have the time of your life. Also, that this is like no other job, and it’s completely unique for every single person who plays the part.

DEADLINE: Speaking of playing the part, Chris, the two of you obviously worked together on Broadchurch and you have penned a number of Who episodes in the past. But what is it like working with Jodie on Doctor Who?

CHIBNALL: Actually Dominic, that was the brilliant thing about it, really. Having known Jodie and worked with her previously, I know that she is limitless as a performer and is incredibly funny and full of energy, which something that many people haven’t had a chance to see. Often, and some of this is my fault, she’s been crying in shows for years on British television.

So, now, I think what’s been brilliant is knowing how amazing she is as an actress, is to try and give her as much variety, and as much range, and as many challenges as possible to reveal her range and skills. Because the part of the Doctor can go anywhere and should go anywhere. So, in terms of us working together again, that’s been the joy of it on a show that, I think we can all agree, is pretty much the polar opposite of Broadchurch.

DEADLINE: Jodie, not just in terms of gender but generationally, you are a different Doctor than say Peter was. In that context, do you approach this with a clean slate point of view or as a continuation of the greater narrative that Doctor Who has built up over the decades?

WHITTAKER: It’s not so much of a clean slate because you take what’s gone before, and you honor it. But to make it your own season, and for me, to make it my own Doctor, I want to take those elements that’ve gone before in a new direction without losing any of the rich history of show.

DEADLINE: How do you mean?

WHITTAKER: Well, the way we’ve been operating is that if you’ve been a fan of this show for the last 20 years or 50 years, then this will absolutely carry on your passion, and engagement, and excitement. But if you’re brand new to it, that’s OK too. You don’t need to have an encyclopedic knowledge to come into this with fresh eyes, and that’s of any age or gender. I think that’s what’s been exciting for me, because I didn’t come at this as a Whovian, and this is a show that’s inclusive rather exclusive and that’s great.

The official trailer is above and video of the Doctor Who panel is below. So far the BBC is only saying that Doctor Who will return in Autumn 2018.

There was, of course, far more news from San Diego Comic Con which I will return to next week.

SciFi Weekend: The Handmaid’s Tale Controversial Second Season Finale; Discovery Shows The Enterprise Bridge; Emmy Nominations For Genre Shows; Doctor Who Teaser; HBO Picks Up New Show From Joss Whedon; Sweetbitter Renewed; Downton Abbey Movie Announced

The second season finale of The Handmaid’s Tale was quite controversial. I had mixed feelings when I saw June/Offred decide not to flee to Canada. It was frustrating, and unexpected, that she did not take advantage of this opportunity, but I was also concerned while watching the minutes leading up to this that we might be seeing a replay of the first season finale–June on the verge of escaping and then being dragged back again. At very least I am glad that they wound up doing something different.

The question is whether the surprise ending is believable with what we know about June. We would expect anyone to want to escape that country if possible. Last season, when given the opportunity to try to escape, June attempted to do so.  However, some things are different. She saw her first child, and had to face the question of why she did not try harder to remain with her. She even has information about her daughter, giving her a chance at finding her again. While fighting the system in Gilead appears to be too dangerous to risk, seeing that the Marthas have united to rebel does give more hope.

It might be argued that she was attempting to escape when she tried to get the car earlier in the season, however we don’t really know that her plan was to try to escape to Canada. She might have planned to try to free her first daughter first. Plus at that time she was pregnant, and escaping Gilead with her soon to be born daughter would be motivation to try to escape. At the end of the second season she had the opportunity to both send her second daughter to safety and remain behind to fight.

Ultimately whether I accept the conclusion of the second season as a realistic choice will depend upon what we learn was in June’s head in the time and what she winds up doing. After two bleak seasons, I hope that the third season does show further rebellion. Of course with this show there is no guarantee of success. There is the danger that June winds up being captured and in an even worse situation, or even that the entire series ultimately ends with the execution of the characters in Gilead who we care about. Hopefully we will get a more optimistic ending than that.

There are also questions about several other characters. Will Emily actually make it to Canada and, if so, what does she do there. How far will Serena go in opposing the system? Will Aunt Lydia survive her wounds? I bet she will be back. What happens to the relationship between Nick and Commander Waterford now that it is clearer that Nick is involved with the resistance? There must be a limit to how useful Nick’s knowledge of Waterford’s secrets are against a guy cruel enough to have his own wife’s finger cut off for reading the Bible. What will Commander Lawrence do now that we know where his sympathies actually lie? Will the authorities realize that the Marthas were rebelling, and what action will they take? It will be far easier to have a mass execution of Marthas than of handmaidens (as they threatened at the start of the season).

We have some hints as to the answers in this interview executive producer Bruce Miller had with TV Guide:

Did you know from the beginning that Offred was not going to escape at the end of the season? And did you get push back from anyone else about whether or not she should escape or stay?Bruce Miller: There was incredible amount of push back from me and from everybody else. All we want is for her to get out. So even though storywise you want to do one thing, emotionally all you want is the other answer. So I guess we all wanted her to get out personally. But yeah, I mean, I knew from the middle of Season 1 that this would happen. So because of that, we were working toward this. I mean, once we started to feel the kind of deep vein of regret that Offred was feeling, or June was feeling at the prospect of leaving Hannah behind and how it was tearing her apart, we felt like [that] after she saw her. And after she kinda was faced with the idea of, “I am going to be able to get one child to safety, and now I just have to decide what to do myself.” I don’t think it’s a choice about whether you’re gonna stay behind to try to rescue your child, I think it’s a needto. I wouldn’t be able to leave one of my children behind… When we got to it, it felt very natural to the character. It is an impossible choice but we are faced with those all the time, so it is interesting to see what she does.

Have we seen the last of Emily and baby Nicole or is there more story to tell for those two characters?
Miller: We have not seen the last of Emily and Nicole. I don’t know that we’re gonna see Nicole going to her first prom very soon, or Emily for that matter, but we have not seen the last of them. We’ll follow them on their journey after they leave Offred in the tunnel, in the finale, we will be following them… I think that Nicole is quite a popular young girl. There’s lots of people who want her including a whole country of Gilead if she happens to get out… It’s a huge, huge puzzle piece of our world. It’s June’s child, and just as much as Hannah has been a huge part of our show Nicole’s going to be a huge part of our show whether it’s in influence or whether it’s in corporeal reality with someone holding her in their arms. She is the force to be reckoned with. She is the next generation that they’re all doing all of this for.

Will Bradley Whitford’s character be coming back in Season 3, and what are we gonna learn about him and why he helped Emily escape?
Miller:
 Yes, Bradley’s coming back for Season 3. He was exactly the kind of character we wanted to start building in Season 2. We were hoping his schedule would work out that he could come back for Season 3. I think we’re gonna learn a ton about him. I mean, I think the fact is he’s our Oppenheimer character. The man who designed an atomic bomb and then saw what it could do. I mean, he’s a designer of Gilead, and now he’s seen what it can do. So he is a mass of contradictions and dangers, so you never know what he’s willing to do, what he’s not willing to do. He’s been protecting himself for a very long time. And his adventure to keep himself alive certainly is not always an adventure that’s going to keep the people around him alive. But now that June has crossed paths with him, she’s going to cross paths with him a lot more in Season 3.

What you can tell us about Aunt Lydia and her future? We don’t see her actually die but it looks really bad at the end of the season.
Miller: Aunt Lydia doesn’t die. I don’t think Aunt Lydia can die. I don’t think there are forces in the world strong enough to kill Aunt Lydia. And by extension the incredibly strong, fabulous Ann Dowd, I think is with us for a long, long time as well. Aunt Lydia doesn’t die, she’s transformed by this event. The fact that one of her girls who — [she thinks] that there’s a love between her and her girls — has literally stabbed her in the back. I think that that alters your workplace feelings on a day-to-day basis. You don’t wanna turn your back. So I think that in some ways there’s a lot of possible effects. But I think in her case, it makes her double down that she feels like she just wasn’t strong enough in her discipline. So she, I think, has decided it’s time to get tough.

It was exciting to see Rita take a decisive action in the finale. What can we expect from her character moving forward?
Miller: Amanda Brugel, has really done a remarkable job with Rita. The fact that she’s both incredibly strong and invisible in the house is just, it’s a miracle of acting that she really has made her both a powerful force and you just completely forget that she exists. And I mean, and that’s supposed to be mirroring the way the Waterfords and the people in Gilead just let her fade into the woodwork, on purpose, because that’s the role that she’s supposed to play. But it’s great that she uses it strategically, and so everybody forgets about her, and then all of a sudden she has this freedom to build this network with all the other Marthas. They trade things back and forth, information and cinnamon and cheese and all sorts of stuff. And so they have a life going on there and a resistance network. You know it’s used for other things, black-market things, gossip, but now she’s turning it and using it as a resistance network.

I think she’s gonna have to do some very deft dancing to get around her comeuppance for her complicity in this, and I don’t know whether she will, but she is our representative of this group of women who have been pushed into invisible domestic roles like so many women in real society, in our society. She is, but she is not invisible, and she’s not domestic. She is a woman in full, and you get to see kind of the power that brings to bear. And I think, in [Season 3], we’re going to see some of the results of her coming out of her shell and becoming a little more visible. But I think the key for me is that she is a very smart survivor, and that’s what she’s going to continue to be.

We saw Nick, too, take a stand against Fred (Joseph Fiennes) in the finale to help Offred escape. What are the consequences for that choice are going to look like for him next year?
Miller: Nick did take a stand and impulsively, which is not his best — not a Crayola crayon he does do very often. He’s not an impulsive guy in general. And I thought is was such a kind of a measure of the closeness of his relationship with Fred and how much he was willing to risk… But yes, there will be repercussions for Nick. The interesting thing about Nick and Fred is that power dynamic between the two men and the two positions that they hold. One is kind of outwardly a leader of Gilead, and the other, Nick, is quite a powerful person behind the scenes because he’s a spy, and because he has dirt on people, and because he knows all the good and bad things people are doing, going to Jezebel’s and all those things. So I don’t think it’s a hammer that the commander can bring down so easily on Nick, or would want to…

Is there a happy ending to this story? Is that in any way the end goal or is everything always going to be terrible?
Miller: I think there is a happy ending, and I don’t think everything’s always going to be terrible… I believe in June, and I believe that if The Handmaid’s Tale is the story we’ve decided to tell from this imaginary place of Gilead, if June’s story is the story we tell, we’ve told it because it’s a story of hope. I do feel like every episode where it ends and Offred is alive, June is alive, it’s a huge victory and a story worth telling. To see how someone in this world doesn’t just survive, but in their own way, find ways to live, find ways to actually have a life, have intimacy. She sees her daughter, which she never thought would happen. So all of these things are huge victories for me.

But in terms of an ending, I think this is a story of a woman getting out of bondage. So I think in the end that’s the story, whether she is able to get out herself or whether she’s able to get one or more of her children out, or reunite with her husband. Those are all details, but I think the story is bending, I hope, because it exists, it’s bending towards a happy ending because this account of what happened exists means that somehow some way, June got that account out. That to me sets a story of kind of the triumph of the human spirit and hope.

Miller had more to say about why June stayed in this interview with Deadline:

DEADLINE: I often like to start these at the end, so why does June stay in Gilead at the end of the finale?

MILLER: Because she’s a mother. She has one child who’s going off to safety and one child that’s still here so she stays for her daughter Hannah. Whether she’s going to help her daughter or whether she’s going to try her hardest to injure Gilead, it really comes from two things. One is her mom saying you’re stronger than you think, which is something she realized about herself throughout the season. The other is her daughter saying why didn’t you try harder?

When she finally sees Hannah, Hannah says why didn’t you try harder to find me?

And she’s going to try harder and I think that after having a season where all these things that were seemingly impossible have come to pass I think she’s willing to take a chance. She’s not so willing to leave her eldest daughter behind.

Elisabeth Moss also supported her character’s decision in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

“Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Moss explained her take on the season finale and the game-changing decision for June to stick around in Gilead, saying there are two primary reasons for the development.

“There’s really a couple answers to this, and they are equally important,” she says when asked why June’s decision feels like the right way to end season two. “Hannah is the first one. It’s as simple as that. She cannot leave her daughter there. She doesn’t know if she can get back in if she leaves. What can she do from the outside? She doesn’t know. But here’s what she does know. She just discovered that there’s a legitimate and strong underground network of Marthas working for the resistance. The wives led by Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) just rebelled against the men and government of Gilead. They are starting to resist. And she just saw a commander (Lawrence, played by Bradley Whitford) help his handmaid and her dear friend Emily escape. A commander. How deep does this underground network of resistance go? She knows now she isn’t alone. She doesn’t want to leave Hannah, but when she sees Emily and the commander, she realizes she can get her baby Holly out and stay to try to do the same for Hannah. And she doesn’t have a lot of time to make that decision. She does the riskier thing, which is stay, but she literally cannot leave Hannah in that place.”

(For what it’s worth, Moss weighs in on why June told Emily to refer to Holly as Nicole, the name Serena gave the baby: “It’s a show of love for Serena and a thank you for what Serena did in letting June get her out. It’s June’s baby, but it’s June’s way of acknowledging Serena’s true love for that child.”)

In terms of why June’s decision to stay was the right way for season two to end, Moss says, “She is staying to fight to save all the children of Gilead. It’s bigger than her now. It’s bigger than her and Holly and Hannah. It’s all about the sons and especially daughters of Gilead, and fighting for their lives. Seeing the Martha network and the commander have opened her eyes. She is no longer alone. She has an army, and she’s going to fight back.”

“I don’t want to fight from the outside,” she adds. “I think it would kill June. To feel helpless like that. There are people doing the work that needs to be done in other countries, particularly Canada of course, that we show legislatively and trying to find their families and fighting Gilead in that way. There are very few people who can fight from the inside, and you have to have both. There are very few people who are as smart and experienced with Gilead as June is, who are as connected to a high ranking commander such as Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) or Lawrence, who know the ins and out, who have someone connected like Nick (Max Minghella), who knows that there’s a network of Marthas. She has very particular qualities that make her the one who should lead the resistance. Being in Canada, trying to change things from the outside, would just be extremely frustrating for her. And there’s probably no one who gives less fucks about what she has to do to get her daughter Hannah out than June does.”

The final moment of the season sees June pulling her handmaid hood over her head, more iconically cloaked in Gilead than ever before. And yet, Moss agrees that it signals an end for June’s life as “Offred,” even if it also means the birth of someone new.

“It’s not the June that was captured and brought to Gilead,” she says. “It’s not the June in the flashbacks. It’s a new June. She has become stronger, smarter, braver. She has learned a lot. She has experienced indescribable physical and emotional pain. She has changed forever, and not necessarily for the better, but in a way that she needs to have changed to be able to lead the resistance. She has hardened. She’s gotten very tough. She’s maybe colder. But that’s what she needs to be. She will never lose her humanity, and she will never lose the capacity to love as a mother, but that mother’s love can be the fiercest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Promotional pictures for season two of Star Trek: Discovery are showing the inside of the Enterprise.  The above picture is of Burnham walking onto the bridge of the Enterprise. Sonequa Martin-Green is quoted as saying,  “…we’re really going to be digging into family. A lot of questions are going to be raised; some are going to be answered.” Will that include showing Spock? There has also been a picture released of a Saurian, an alien species first seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star Trek: Discovery, with two nominations, is just one of several genre shows to receive Emmy nominations. Discovery’s nominations are in the categories of  Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup (Series, limited series, movie or special) and Outstanding Sound Editing For A Comedy or Drama (One Hour).

Other Emmy nominations of note include Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black),  for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Jesse Plemons (Black Mirror: USS Callister) for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie, and multiple nominations for Westworld, Game of ThronesThe Handmaid’s Tale, and The Americans. The full list is available here.

The official teaser for Doctor Who series 11 was released during the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup Final. We got a look at Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor, the Doctor’s new companions, and perhaps a timey wimy way to replenish a pizza box.  From Entertainment Today’s cover story on Doctor Who:

The choice of Whittaker to play the lead role on Doctor Who represents a massive gamble on the part of new showrunner Chris Chibnall — who’d previously cast Whittaker as a grieving mother on his cop drama Broadchurch — and the BBC, which successfully revived the sci-fi series in 2005 following a lengthy hiatus. More than 18 million Doctor Who DVDs have shipped, 12 million action figures have been sold in the 13 years since its relaunch, and in 2013 a 50th-anniversary episode was screened in 94 countries. In the U.S., the show has become the flagship series for BBC America, which will premiere the new season this fall, simulcasting the first episode so it screens at the same time as in the U.K. There is a lot riding on Whittaker’s ability to make audiences around the world fall in love with a female Doctor, as the actress is well aware.

“There’s no rules, and it’s liberating,” she says. “But it’s equally terrifying.”

EW spent two days on the set of Doctor Who for this week’s cover story, hanging out with Whittaker and the trio of actors who are playing the Doctor’s new companions: Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole. Your writer also spoke with Chibnall who explained why he had made the decision to make the Thirteenth Doctor female once Whittaker’s predecessor, Peter Capaldi, decided to leave the series.

“I just felt the time was right,” said Chibnall. “I think if the show hadn’t done it, we would have been behind the world, and Doctor Who has got to be out front leading the world, and being a great example of all the amazing things that are in the world. So, it wasn’t even a question in my mind.”

Above is a cross over episode I’d love to see (via Doctor Who Today).

HBO has picked up a new series from Joss Whedon. TV Line reports:

The Whedonverse is expanding to HBO.

The premium cabler on Friday gave a series order to Joss Whedon‘s The Nevers, which is described as an “epic science-fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.”

Whedon — who previously toyed with creating a “Victorian female Batman” for the stalled comic book series Twist— will write, direct and executive-produce the HBO drama, as well as serve as showrunner. His previous live-action TV forays include, of course, Buffy the Vampire SlayerAngel and Firefly, as well as Dollhouse and the co-creation of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (where his brother Jed serves as co-showrunner).

Totally non-genre (unless you consider the abundance of shows about someone moving to the big city or restaurant shows a genre), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that STARZ has renewed Sweetbitter for a new season. I won’t say it is must see, but at times shows with short seasons come in handy, sort of as a long movie. The first season is six thirty minute episodes, making it easy to watch in one or two sittings. It was the inclusion of Caitlin Fitzgerald in the cast which caught my attention.

In the historical television genre, a Downton Abbey movie is now official.

SciFi Weekend: The X-Files Returns; Star Trek Discovery Starting Second Half Of Season; Jodie Whittaker On Doctor Who

The X-Files returned last week and, after so many good seasons, there was no question but to give it another chance despite a disappointing season two years ago. My Struggle III wound up retconning much of what occurred in part II (last season’s cliff hanger season finale). The events, including the plague, the breakdown of civilization, and the alien spaceship at the end, apparently are prophesies while Scully is actually in a coma, and none of it has happened yet (if ever). Normally I might object to getting out of a cliff hanger in such a manner, but it is probably better for the show that they reset like this. It just lowers my view of the tenth season a bit more, while giving me more hope for this season.

Overall it was a good episode, and I hope that they do include more of the mythology, as opposed to going to stand-alone monster of the week episodes until the season finale as they did last season. Besides the retcon of cliff hanger, they went back and revised more of what we thought about the show, spending a lot of time on events dealt with during the regular run of the series. This included a lot with the Cigarette Smoking Man (always a plus for an X-Files episode), and especially with his involvement with William’s birth. If he sees himself as William’s father, I guess this means that William is Mulder’s half-brother rather than son.

Other developments include finding that Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) is working quite closely with the Cigarette Smoking Man, and there are new characters involved in the big conspiracy. Jeffrey Spender is also more important, as long as the season involves the search for William. The entire end-game has also changed, with the aliens no longer wanting to colonize the earth as we have made it too hot. Apparently there is some good to come from global warming.

The episode also showed the moon landing as being faked, which I was disappointed in, finding this to be a bit too much tin-foil-hat even for The X-Files. Yes, part of X-Files is accepting a lot of alien conspiracy stuff as real for the fun of the series. I wouldn’t have minded if they did something like having aliens on the moon at the time of the landing. However X-Files is about believing that a lot of science fiction stuff is real, not denying space travel which has actually occurred.

Where ever they go this season, I do hope that they end with a satisfactory conclusion (even if leaving some things open), especially as Gillian Anderson says she will not return to The X-Files (or American Gods), and Chris Carter doesn’t plan to continue without her. Of course actors have been convinced to change their mind in the past about returning to a role.

Star Trek:Discovery returns tonight–but why couldn’t CBS stream it a little earlier so we could watch it before the Golden Globes start? Tonight’s episode, Despite Yourself, will be the one directed by Jonathan Frakes, and is rumored to involve the Mirror universe. The producers are teasing what we will see in the second half of the season, via AV Club:

The Discovery EPs talked about keeping the workplace safe for women and promoting greater representation on and off screen, which remained a part of the discussion even when reporters were green-lit to go off topic and ask about what viewers can expect from the second half of the show, which returns January 7.

Berg advised fans to “buckle up,” because the show is “introducing a huge new development.” “It’ll be fun for Trek fans,” Harberts chimed in, teasing a “nice nod to stuff from [The Original Series]. This back half—what happens tomorrow night firmly anchors the back half to the season. It’s definitely again a war story, as far as how it’ll play out, but our characters find themselves in a place where their identities are challenged. It’s an emotionally wrought back half. Very intense. The cast has done some amazing work.”

As far as what thematic arc we can expect from the Trek series that the EPs and network have regularly touted for its more serialized storytelling, Berg invoked the “discovery and self-discovery” themes that have been a part of Burnham’s story this season. “She had a big hole to climb out of emotionally, spiritually, and how she feels she fits in the world. [This second half] is about getting her back to a place we saw her in in the beginning.”

“Redemption’s a huge theme,” Harberts adds, which is something the show’s producers and writers are probably hoping for after the first half of season one was deemed not quite Trek enough by some viewers. “The other thing that’s a huge theme for us is taking the Federation from the darkness into the light. Everybody wants this optimistic version of Star Trek right out of the gate. And I feel that our show has a lot of hope in it from episode to episode, depending on storyline we’re tracking.” So if you’ve found the show somewhat grim (this particular writer hasn’t), stay tuned, because Harberts says “by season’s end, people will see the Federation they’ve come to know and love from TOS on.”

When The A.V. Club asked Berg and Harberts about Georgiou’s sudden departure, the EPs pointed to the upcoming episode. Berg calls the relationship between Georgiou and Burnham “such a core relationship for the entire spine. Our goal was always to keep Captain Georgiou alive on the show.” Cutting herself off to avoid revealing too much, Berg then says, “The joy is in the journey. I’d say, keep watching, because Georgiou is such a huge part of the heart who was Michael Burnham. If that’s something you’re invested in, keep watching because I think you hopefully will enjoy what we’re going to do.” “Once you watch episode 10, you’ll see the context that we’re playing in,” Harberts adds. “Another theme for the back half is second chances. As people are consuming the back half, keep that in mind.”

As for what we can expect from the back half of season one, the war story will continue, but there will be less Klingon and subtitles. “We still stand behind that decision,” Berg says, because it made sense for the story of the nativist Klingons. But Harberts also indicates there will be “a little less reading involved” going forward.

I previously speculated that we might see Captain Georgiou alive in the Mirror universe, or some other parallel universe. Perhaps we will find out if that is the case tonight.

Doctor Who Magazine has an interview with Jodie Whittaker which includes the above picture of her as she will be dressed on Doctor Who. Whittaker also discussed the significance of her new role on Doctor Who in an interview with Total Film, calling it “fucking brilliant.” A synopsis from Digital Spy:

In an interview with Total Film, Jodie acknowledges how the very act of her casting as The Doctor may already have opened up doors for other actresses.

“This is the defining moment of my life,” she tells the magazine. “I feel old enough for it. And I feel like I understand how important it is, and I’m so excited that the role models for young children, boys or girls… or teenagers, or adults, come in different forms.

“There’s nothing unattainable about me. I don’t look like I’ve been carved out of rock. I don’t sound like I’ve had the extraordinary glamour.”

The actress then explained: “For me, knowing what I thought were my limitations as a person and an actor, because this industry is about, ‘You sound like this, you look like this’… but I’m normal.

“And that was exciting to [Broadchurch co-star and former Doctor] David [Tennant] – it was a superhero he could play. And now it opens it a little wider, to women as well.

“It’s amazing to be a milestone, but how wonderful if it wasn’t, if it was just accepted, embraced. I’m not dissing the moment – it’s f**king brilliant – but hopefully when other people grow up, it’s not so much of a surprise.”

SciFi Weekend: Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017; Doctor Who News On The Eve Of “Twice Upon A Time”

Doing top of the year lists in television has become increasingly difficult in this age of peak television when there are around 500 scripted shows and it is impossible to watch everything new which is on. I’ve even heard some of the professional television critics admit to this problem and that their lists should realistically be called the Top X Shows Which I Have Watched. As each season adds to the number of shows which deserve to be ranked which I have not seen, I have annually limited my lists to the top new shows of the year. (The Top Twenty New Shows Of  2016 is posted here). In past years I have included all types of television, with a bias towards genre in the rankings. I found that this year I have seen most (but certainly not all) of the new genre shows which I believe are worth seeing, but when all types of shows are considered the percentage drops significantly. Therefore I decided to make the main list the Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017 and will mention some additional shows afterwards.

Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017

10. The Gifted (Fox)

One of three new X-Men or mutant related shows (with the X-Men and Inhumans possibly to be united if the Disney purchase of Fox goes through). This is definitely the more conventional of the two included on this list, and the mid-season finale opens hope that the show will be expanded from what we have seen so far. It is worth seeing with the combination of Root (Amy Acker) and Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer), both obviously in new roles.

9. The Defenders (Netflix)

The team-up of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist was more worth watching to see the interactions of these four than for the battle against The Hand. I previously reviewed the series here.

8. The Tick (Amazon Prime)

This was a far better than NBC’s attempt at superhero comedy with Powerless. More on the show here.

7. The Punisher (Netflix)

Technically there are no superhero or science fiction elements in the show but I will include it as it overlaps with the Marvel universe, with Karen Page playing a significant role, and with the Punisher having been introduced in Daredevil. Like the other Marvel shows which are set up as one long story, it might have been better if cut to eight to ten episodes as opposed to thirteen, but they did do a good job of intermixing two related stories in the present along with flashbacks to set up the backstory. I did prefer the government conspiracy story line over The Hand as in the other two new Marvel series on Netflix this year.

6. Runaways (Hulu)

Yet another show based upon a Marvel comic, Runaways in tone is somewhere between the network-friendly Agents of SHIELD and the more adult shows on Netflix. So far it has done a good job of setting up a conflict between a group of teens and their villainous parents.

5. American Gods (Starz)

Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have done an excellent job of adapting the first portion of Neil Gaiman’s novel, but it is now questionable as to whether this will survive with their departure from the show. There is a look at the season finale here.

4. The Orville (Fox)

The show initially appeared questionable when billed as a parody, but over the course of the season Seth MacFarlane learned how to tell serious science fiction stories while mixing in humor. I had brief reviews of each episode, often looking at how well humor was incorporated into the episode, in each week’s post. My review of the season finale was here, with a follow-up look at the first season here. The show is strongly based upon Star Trek: The Next Generation, and many who prefer more conventional Star Trek, as well as episodic television, might prefer this over the other new Star Trek show.

3. Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)

While many fans feel more comfortable with The Orville, Star Trek: Discovery is the more ambitious of the two. Discovery does a far better job than Enterprise did in making a Star Trek show with a more modern television feel, including a serialized format. This is also different from previous Star Trek series in taking place during a time of war, and having a Captain who is far more morally ambiguous. There are also questions regarding continuity which I discussed here. I had weekly reviews of each episode while the show was on, with the review of the fall finale here.

2. Legion (Fx)

Noah Hawley provided a quite original take on the X-Men universe, providing something new and unique to prevent superhero fatigue. My post on the season finale was here.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

This excellent dramatization of Margaret Atwood’s novel about a dystopian future could have been a great series any year, but its treatment of women seemed so much more relevant at the start of the Trump administration–at time when its horrors seemed a bit more plausible. More on the series here.

Among the shows which I saw but did not make the cut was Iron Fist, the weakest of the Netflix Marvel series. While flawed, it is watchable and does lead directly into The Defenders. If you still have a lot of Marvel shows to watch, put this off. If you plan to watch them all, it might make sense to still watch it before The Defenders.

Two genre series which debuted in 2017 were remakes of past series. The X-Files (Fox) was generally disappointing, but with all the excellent episodes in the past I will still give the next season a try. I previously discussed the show here and here. There was also the return of Twin Peaks (Showtime), which competed with Legion as strangest series of the year. I previously looked at the series here.

There are also some genre shows which I have not seen but which might be worth checking out, such as the time travel comedy Future Man and the anthology series Dimension 404, both on Hulu. The genre show which I haven’t seen which is receiving the most favorable publicity is the German series Dark, available in the United States on Netflex.

There were also a few genre flops in 2017. I gave up on Powerless (NBC) midway through the season. I didn’t watch The Inhumans (ABC) after numerous poor reviews. If interested, Io9 summarizes what happened on The Inhumans for those who stopped watching. Time After Time (ABC) was cancelled before I had a chance to give it a try.

Moving beyond genre, there were also many excellent shows in 2017. There were two excellent dramas dominated by women, Big Little Lies (HBO) and Godless (Netflix), which I am currently in the midst of watching. The three top comedies from 2017 which I have watched also are led by women: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime) from Amy-Sherman Palladino, GLOW (Netflix), staring Allison Brie, and SMILF (Showtime).

While not genre, the CW also premiered another comic based series in 2017, Riverdale, which presents a new take on the Archie comics.

Tomorrow we have a major television event with Peter Capaldi having his last appearance before regenerating into Jodie Whittaker on Doctor Who. Doctor Who News has an interview with Steven Moffat about the show:

What does Twice Upon A Time have in store for us?

There are some new eerie creatures of glass haunting the Doctor and his friends throughout this story – but what their purpose and what their plan is, and what their time traveling machinations are, is going to be a big surprise to the Doctor.

Were there any sets or locations that you particularly enjoyed working on?

There’s a real range of spaces that we visit across the special. We have the inside of a giant stone spaceship full of creepy glass creatures. We’re in the first Doctor’s TARDIS – recreated and brought back from the 1960s to stand proud in the Welsh studios. We’re on a First World War battlefield. And at long last we go to a location that I mentioned in my very first episode of Doctor Who back in 2005, as we visit the ruins of Villengard.

How would you describe the tone of this episode?

This episode is somewhere between a coda and drumroll. It’s a coda to the time of the Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, and a drumroll to usher in the Thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. Approaching it, one issue I had was that The Doctor Falls (this year’s series finale) was the end of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. That episode saw the Twelfth Doctor stating what he stands for and standing on the hill on which he was prepared to die.

That was the end of his story. But – as often happens in stories and real life – it didn’t end there. He kept going, he started to regenerate, so at Christmas what we’re going to see is a man weary and tired and, having made his point and having made his stand and given his life for something that matters, he has to learn just how to carry on after that. But of course this being Doctor Who and Christmas it’s much warmer and hopeful than that, so in perfect timing walking towards him out of the snow he meets earliest incarnation. The William Hartnell version of the Doctor – played now by David Bradley in an astonishing performance – and the two of them are about to regenerate. Tonally it’s about saying “to hell with dying, let’s get on with living”. And what’s more Christmassy that that? It’s the turn of the year, a time for new beginnings, it’s the time when we start climbing back towards the light.

How does the First Doctor look at the Twelfth Doctor?

Well the Doctor never gets on with himself. Arguably he doesn’t get on with himself when it’s just him alone – we had the whole plot of Heaven Sent (in series nine) about that – so he doesn’t get on with himself even when it’s just him. But here I think we have perhaps one of the most interesting instances of the Doctors meeting, because the First Doctor as we know from the show is quite different from the Doctor we know now.

Ultimately he’s the same person – he has the same set of impulses and ideals – but he hasn’t yet become at home with what he’s becoming. If you look at the original William Hartnell series, the Doctor’s starting to fight the good fight, but he’ll arrive in a spot of trouble and generally speaking he’ll only help others out because he needs to get back to the TARDIS. So often there’d be a plot contrivance to stop William Hartnell’s Doctor getting back to his TARDIS and flying out of danger. Slowly that started changing as the Doctor developed as a character. He’d start saying “No I can’t leave yet – not because I can’t get to the TARDIS, but because these people are still in trouble and this evil is still in control. I have to help these people.”

Without noticing it, or it ever being his plan or his intent, he’s starting to engage with the universe and he’d be horrified to think that he’s starting to become its protector. Now, at the end of that lifetime when the First Doctor is facing his end, he doesn’t yet realise that’s what he already is. He’s already the man who rides to the rescue, the saviour of the oppressed, but he doesn’t own up to that. Now he meets the Twelfth doctor, and the Twelfth doctor has been doing this for so long. He’s used to the idea that he’s already Earth’s protector – an idea that completely bewilders his younger – except kind of older self. The thing to focus on this time, alongside the flourishes that distinguish the two doctors – it that they are at very different moments in their lives. The First Doctor is not quite yet the hero we are used to.

How did you feel to be writing your final episode of Doctor Who?

The truth about writing anything is that it’s always difficult. You can change the reason why it’s difficult, but the fact is it’s just always difficult! Throughout writing this I wanted to feel more about the fact it’s the last one I’ll ever write, and I wanted to feel more about it’s the last one Peter will ever play, but the truth is that the technicality and the difficulty and the demands on your creativity – all that overwhelms you to the point where you’re just trying to write a great Doctor Who story! That’s enough to contend with – you can’t have the real life drama of two old Scotsmen making their way to the door.

Once we got into shooting it, however, and especially when we approached filming Peter’s last moments as the Doctor which were done at the end of the shoot, we did talk more about how exactly he should meet his end. We were both very pleased with that final section of the script already, but as we went through piece by piece we thought there were ways to improve it so I’d be banging out new pages each night for us to discuss on set each day. That was so enjoyable and exciting to do – to really feel that we were getting his send off right – that in a way it took whatever emotions we were both having about leaving and put them on screen where they belong. By the time we got to that part of filming I think Peter and I were probably the least emotional on set because we’d put it all in the show!

David Bradley has some advice for Jodie Whittaker:

“Keep it light. Keep it funny,” he offered, adding poignantly: “Have a sense and wonder about the universe and everything in it.”

David Bradley previously told Digital Spy that he had high hopes for his former Broadchurchco-star Jodie’s tenure as the denizen of the TARDIS.

“I was delighted [by the casting],” Bradley told us. “I was wondering if [showrunner] Chris [Chibnall] would pick someone from the Broadchurch cast.

“As we saw in Broadchurch, she’s got this emotional reserve that… there’s no limits. She’s capable of great emotion and passion.”

The TARDIS Yule Log video has some glimpses of Twice About A Time.

Yahoo TV talked with Pearl Mackie about her year on Doctor Who. Here is a portion:

What were the characteristics about Bill that jumped out at you right away?
Well, she’s quite cheeky, which I liked. But she’s also intelligent and doesn’t feel the need to brag about it. It’s very much a part of her, and she’s not ashamed to just say things. She has this confidence that I really engaged with; she doesn’t let her life or experiences get the better of her. She also wants to learn more and is very inquisitive.

We see that in the way she challenges the Doctor from their first meeting. That’s a different dynamic from past companions.
Yeah, and that’s the energy that I felt when I first read the script. There’s an irreverence between her and the Doctor, even though there’s also a lot of respect and they grow to be very close by the end of the series. She’d never be like, “I bow to your superior knowledge.” It’s more akin to, “Well, actually I don’t agree with that. What about this?” I think he respects her for that; they both enjoyed the verbal sparring they had. It’s enjoyable to watch that dynamic.

How quickly did you establish that rhythm with Peter Capaldi?
I met him for the first time in my second audition — my callback essentially. Before that, I’d been reading the script on my laptop with the Facetime camera on, responding to a recording I’d made of myself doing a version of Peter Capaldi reading his lines! The real Peter is a much better actor than that — much more dynamic. [Laughing] When I went into the room, I was absolutely terrified because Peter is not only an incredible actor, but he’s also been playing this character for a long time. We read the first scene of Episode 1, this mammoth six-page scene, and I spent most of it standing there just hoping that what I was doing was right or at least interesting.

Then we did the scene where Bill goes into the TARDIS for the first time, and Peter said, “Do you want to stand up?” I went, “What? OK, sure.” In auditions, you’re supposed to sit still and keep your face as still as possible, but if you’re me, your face tends to move of its own accord. Steven enjoyed that and used it a little bit in the first episode when Bill is standing at the window in the Doctor’s office and says, “I see my face all the time. I never liked it; it’s all over the place — it’s always doing expressions when I’m trying to be enigmatic.” But, yeah, I mainly remember standing there aghast at being in a room acting with Peter Capaldi. Luckily, Bill was supposed to be pretty aghast when she walked in the TARDIS, otherwise we may not be having this conversation today! I think we were both responding to each other quite honestly and seemed to work in a very harmonious fashion.

BBC America posted this thank-you video for Peter Capaldi.

CinemaBlend said Capaldi had this to say about the Doctor’s real name: “I also know his real name. It’s not pronounceable to humans. It’s a frequency that can only be heard of people with good heart.” They went on to add:

To date, that’s one of the best answers someone connected with Doctor Who has given to the question. It’s far better than Matt Smith’s answer from long ago that it was “Drasicanawhocius” or some long name similar that is easily abbreviated by saying “Doctor Who.” It’s also more interesting than the some diehard fans’ explanations that the Doctor’s name is actually a rather hard-to-pronounce set of Latin letters to varying powers. Given that, Peter Capaldi’s response to Radio 2’s Access All Areas (via Digital Spy) should win as it gels with the awesomeness of the Doctor and doesn’t risk the spraining of the tongue muscle trying to pronounce.

While he has some very interesting ideas regarding the Doctor’s name, Peter Capaldi also holds an opinion that may sound like hot take to many Doctor Who fans. In fact, it may trigger some of those fans fans who have battled to keep those outside the fan community from referring to him in a certain way. Capaldi may indeed ruffle some feathers with this statement:
We can get into a fight about whether he’s called The Doctor, or Doctor Who. The reason I call him Doctor Who is because when you’re in the street, people don’t shout out, ‘There’s The Doctor!’ They go, ‘Hey, Doctor Who!’ That’s his street name. His street name is Doctor Who.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville Does Black Mirror; Doctor Who New Cast; Veronica Mars; Mr Robot & Donald Trump; Girls Night Out On The Flash; Stranger Things

Lethe, last week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery was well plotted, with some reviewers calling it a more typical stand alone episode with both an A story line (saving Sarek) and a B story line (the visit from Admiril Cornwell). I would go further in saying that it both works as a stand alone episode and as part of the serialized story, plus as well plotted episodes generally do, the two stories wound up becoming interrelated. The A story provided more background on Vulcans and on Burnham. Both took place with the backdrop of the Klingon war. It remains to be seen how significant the capture of Admiral Cornwell is in terms of that story in the future.

The episode also had items of interest for two fan theories. Ash Tyler’s dialog takes on a different meaning if he is actually Voq. It is also notable that we have not seen Voq as Voq since he was told by  L’Rell, whose mother came from a house of spies, that he must sacrifice “everything.”

While far from conclusive, this episode has me taking the theory that Lorca is from the Mirror universe much more seriously. When I first heard this theory I hoped it was not true, thinking that a story of a star ship captain who might have gone bad is far more compelling than one of someone replaced by their evil doppelganger. There have already been clues of a connection to the Mirror universe, most notable with the reflection of Stamets in the mirror after he first used himself to navigate the spore drive. I became far more suspicious when Admiral Cornwell said how he had changed. It could be a matter of Lorca going crazy or otherwise changing, or it could mean he has been replaced. His paranoia leading him to both attack her during the night and seeing him wearing a phaser to bed both fit into what we have seen of the Mirror universe.

Another less likely possibility is that it is Lorca as opposed to Ash Tyler who was replaced after being a prisoner of the Klingons. All the evidence points towards Ash being the spy, but there could be intentional misdirection.

Whether it is because of being from the Mirror universe or flaws in Lorca’s character, we again saw signs of his ethics. I thought it was crazy for Cornwall to say that she was going to strip Lorca of his command before leaving. While I wouldn’t put it past him to shoot down her ship, that would be rather hard to convince his crew to accept. There is little doubt he did’t smell the trap and, regardless of whether he realized she would be captured, it was out of character for him to wait for Star Fleet’s orders to consider a rescue unless he had ulterior motives.

After all, we had seen Lorca ignore orders to save Sarek in the same episode, and Saru mentioned what he expected Lorca to do. While I have my doubts about the mind connection between Sarek and Burnham, it is at least consistent with what has happened so far. I thought that Sarek might have been a bit more emotional than portrayed on other series, but having him be a schmuck and seeing xenophobic Vulcans is consistent with canon, especially from Enterprise. This episode serves as a reminder that it is not that Vulcans lack emotions, but that they suppress them because of the consequences when they are emotional–now including Logic Extremists. (The contradiction in the term also reflects the contradictions in Vulcans.) Vulcan attempts at suppressing their emotions are variably successful. It is possible that Spock, with the extra pressure of acting Vulcan despite his human half, might actually be more successful in hiding his emotions than the average Vulcan.

One of the things I like about Star Trek on television as opposed to movies is that there is time to see moments of everyday life and to see more of a variety of characters. In this episode we learned that breakfast burritos will still exist, but I’m not sure what that was that they were drinking with it. Promotions are easy to obtain on Discovery if Lorca likes you, with both Burnham and Tyler moving into key positions. We also saw that Discovery has not only its own cool t-shirts (which not surprisingly are now being offered for sale), but its own holographic simulators. This was appropriately far simpler than the holodecks of STTNG, but raises the question as to why they were never seen on the larger Enterprise on the original show (along with the uniform synthesizers).

TV Line interviewed James Frain. From the interview:

TVLINE | Sarek and Burnham’s relationship is a tricky one: He’s protective of her, but also very standoffish. It’s kind of a push-pull.
I think that’s how she experiences him, for sure, and I think that’s probably how he’s experiencing himself. He has a very dynamic range, and he’s very, very bold with the way he’s chosen to live his life. He’s married a human being. That has made him a target. There are people who want to kill him for that. He adopted a human child, and there were people who wanted to kill her. So he’s put a lot of stuff on the line, and at the same time, he’s a Vulcan. He recognizes in this episode how different Vulcan and human cultures are, and how difficult a situation she was in. He never really understood that, I don’t think. And I think it’s kind of beautiful that he acknowledges that now. But there is a huge internal conflict that, in the original series, we saw in Spock, and now here we are, seeing it in Sarek. It’s kind of like Spock is his father’s son, you know?

TVLINE | Yeah, Discovery‘s Sarek is actually pretty rebellious for a Vulcan. He’s pushing back on a lot of the Vulcan ways.
Absolutely. It’s very clear, I think, in the flashback scene, when they tell him, “You’ve gone too far, and we need to rein you in,” and give him a punitive choice to make — which, obviously, is devastating for him. But he can’t not choose Spock. That’s his son. He’s half-Vulcan, and they’re basically saying, “We’d rather have the more Vulcan one of the two.” They don’t want [Michael] in, and they dump it on Sarek to bear the burden of that.

TVLINE | Sarek chooses Spock over Burnham, but then Spock rejects that and joins Starfleet instead. Does Sarek resent Starfleet, in a way, for that?
No, I don’t think resentment is quite it. He has a high regard for Starfleet, and Captain Georgiou. He handpicked her as the captain to educate Michael. It’s Michael who feels that this is some kind of demotion. But really, as he confesses in this episode, he failed her. He put her in an impossible situation, and then he places her in a much better situation where she can be with her own kind and learn who she is as a human being. He can’t do that for her.

He’s also admonished for making an emotional choice, and he has to kind of toughen up and be very clinical in how he delivers this information to her, because he’s just been told he has to be. The Vulcans, I often think of like the samurai: a very, very coded and strict, but noble and honorable society. You wouldn’t expect a samurai father to suddenly become a hippie just because he wants to make peace. He can’t step completely outside of himself. But he does give her a piece of his soul, and that’s no small thing. So it’s very, very rich and complex: his relationship to Michael, and his relationship to Starfleet.

In other recent interviews, Rainn Wilson told TV Guide that Harry Mudd will be returning soon: “He’s pretty ticked off and he’s ready to exact his revenge on Lorca,” Wilson tells TV Guide. “Sh–‘s gonna hit the fan.”

Alex Kurtzman spoke with Comicbook.com about the uncertain future for Star Trek movies.

CBS All Access has officially renewed Star Trek: Discovery for a second season. While the show is driving subscribers to the streaming service, last Sunday the service appeared to be unable to handle the traffic as many of us watching had to constantly restart the stream. Maybe having more growth than anticipated is a good thing, but they will have to provide better service if they expect people to continue to pay to subscribe.

The Orville generally feels like a copy of Star Trek: The Next Generation but Majority Rule took a story idea which was frequently used on the original show in which they find a planet developing like earth, with some major differences. While it might be questionable whether this could occur, it was no worse than what Star Trek has done. Once on this parallel to earth, the show begins with a feeling comparable to an episode of Black Mirror, which is only fair as Black Mirror will have an upcoming episode based upon Star Trek.

Unfortunately the episode does a weak job in execution as it tries to tell a light cautionary tale about social media. Of course one would think that John would realize the importance of keeping a  low profile as opposed to making a scene dry humping a stature, even if they had no knowledge of the consequences. Having the initial people from the Union arrested for failing to give a pregnant woman a seat on a bus was fairly unimaginative. It would have been more interesting if they had offered her a seat, and it turned out that the natives believed it was important for pregnant women to stand, causing this to be the violation of their social norms.

As on previous episodes, the crew got into the situation by flying down in a shuttle. With all the copying of Star Trek, I’ve been surprised that they do not use transporters. Of course that would also necessitate creating reasons why they cannot be beamed out when they get into trouble. They also apparently lack a version of the Prime Directive, as they had no problem bringing up a native to view their ship and reveal the existence of aliens.

Additional cast members have been named for Doctor Who after Jodie Whittaker takes over the TARDIS. From the BBC:

When Jodie Whittaker takes over as the Thirteenth Doctor on the global hit show next year, she will be joined by an all new regular cast.

BBC announces today (October 10, 2017) that Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill will line-up as the new regular cast on Doctor Who.

Bradley will star as Graham, Tosin will play Ryan and Mandip will play Yasmin.

Also joining the series in a returning role is Sharon D Clarke.

New head writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall, who made the decision to cast the first ever woman in the iconic role, is also shaking up who will travel with the Doctor in the TARDIS, with a team of new characters.

In more exclusive news, it is confirmed that the new series will be a ten week run of fifty minute episodes in Autumn 2018, kicking off with a feature length hour for the opening launch.

Chris Chibnall says : “The new Doctor is going to need new friends. We’re thrilled to welcome Mandip, Tosin and Bradley to the Doctor Who family. They’re three of Britain’s brightest talents and we can’t wait to see them dive into brand new adventures with Jodie’s Doctor. Alongside them, we’re delighted that Sharon D Clarke is also joining the show.”

Jodie Whittaker says : “I am so excited to share this huge adventure with Mandip, Tosin and Bradley. It’s a dream team!”

Bradley Walsh has a previous connection to the Doctor Who universe, having played a villain on an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008.

Digital Spy looked at the history of multiple companions on the TARDIS.

There has been a strong connection between Broadchurch and Doctor Who with Chris Chibnall coming in as show runner. A second executive producer has been added from Broadchurch. There will also be a Broadchurch connection with The Crown as Olivia Coleman will be replacing Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth as she is older in the third and fourth seasons. There is also a Doctor Who connection as the Matt Smith plays Prince Phillip on the first two seasons.

Kristen Bell says that there will eventually be another Veronica Mars revival in the form of a miniseries.

Mr. Robot finally revealed where Tyrell Wellick has been in a flash back episode last week. Besides filling in details primarily involving Tyrell, the episode drew Donald Trump into the show’s conspiracies. Whiterose saw film of Donald Trump and expressed interest in endorsing him. She was asked,  “Look, the country’s desperate right now, but you can’t be serious. I mean, the guy’s a buffoon. He’s completely divorced from reality. How would you even control him?” Whiterose responded, “If you pull the right strings, a puppet will dance any way you desire.”

As we approach the wedding of Iris West and Barry Allen, there will be a Girl’s Night Out for the bachelorette party, to air on November 7. Bleeding Cool has several more pictures. Guests include Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards ) from Arrow, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) playing AmunetBlack, and Caitlin returns as Killer Frost. Following is the episode synopsis:

Having received an ominous threat from her old boss, Amunet (guest star Katee Sackhoff), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) fears that her past time as Killer Frost may be back to haunt her. Felicity (guest star Emily Bett Rickards) comes to Central City to help the girls celebrate Iris’s (Candice Patton) bachelorette party, while Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and the guys take Barry out for a night on the town.

The big genre event of the week has been the release of season two of Stranger Things. As I still have a few episodes to watch, and I’m sure others have not completed it yet, I’ll wait until next week for any specifics. The season so far, like the first season, has been highly entertaining. It is also an excellent show to binge, and hard to stop watching as every episode has ended with something happening which had me wanting to continue watching. It was hard to take a break to get this written.

SciFi Weekend: Game Of Thrones Finale (Tear Down This Wall); Dark Matter Cancelled; Killjoys Renewed; Twin Peaks Finale Tonight; Doctor Who News; Walter Becker Dies

The seventh season of Game of Thrones moved far more rapidly than previous seasons despite its shorter length. Plot lines which I suspected might be carried over into the eighth and final season were quickly wrapped up–which made sense when we say just how huge the cliff hanger in the final minutes was. Major spoilers ahead.

Seeing Jon and Daenerys wind up in the cabin together (in an intentionally simple scene) was no surprise, and their incest was not all that shocking considering that, as opposed to Cersei and Jaime, they were not as closely related, didn’t grow up together, and had no idea of their relationship. Targaryens have a strong tradition of incest so this probably won’t bother Dany when she finds out, but it might come as a shock to Jon.

Dany is far more likely to be concerned about the impact the news will have on her claim to the iron throne than the incest, although at this point I question if the revelation that Jon has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys matters all that much. Two dragons might trump lineage. The winner, if there is one, is likely to be whoever can survive as opposed to who has the stronger claim. Besides, we don’t even know for sure if there will be another monarch sitting on the Iron Throne at the end, or if the events of the series will bring about bigger changes.

One thing we can be certain about is that Littlefinger will not  manipulate his way into ruling. The story line of the discord which Littlefinger tried to develop between Sansa and  Arya  concluded rather rapidly, obviously with events occurring off screen beyond the last meeting we saw between the two sisters. Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plans Bran Stark, described a deleted scene which explained how Sansa figured out Littlefinger’s plan:

We actually did a scene that clearly got cut, a short scene with Sansa where she knocks on Bran’s door and says, “I need your help,” or something along those lines. So basically, as far as I know, the story was that it suddenly occurred to Sansa that she had a huge CCTV department at her discretion and it might be a good idea to check with him first before she guts her own sister. So she goes to Bran, and Bran tells her everything she needs to know, and she’s like, “Oh, s—.”

If anyone has any sympathy for Littlefinger, Sophie Turner has been countering their arguments on Twitter.

Many more things happened. Cersei’s betrayal was no surprise, but it did increase the growing rift between her and Jaime. Less importantly, Theon gets his redemption arc.

Plus there were those final moments at the wall.

Of course nothing is perfect, with Game of Thrones getting sloppy about following its rules, which is important for good fantasy to seem believable. The most obvious example this season was the speed in which the raven got the message to Daenerys and she showed up with a dragon. Of course the consequences of this were quite serious, but did anyone really think that the mission beyond the wall was a good idea?

The season three finale of Dark Matter was titled Nowhere to Go and it wound up having an unfortunate meta meaning. Ryo remained alive despite things looking grim in the final moments the previous week, and I wonder if the long term plan was to be another mind wipe. Instead this episode might have been the start of his redemption. Other characters are in serious danger. Many other story lines remained left open for the next season. And then the Black Ships arrived in a moment which, while of a much lower scale, is a bit like the also previously predicted invasion beginning at the end of Game of Thrones. 

This left so much to look forward to, and ultimately be resolved through the conclusion of the planned five year arc for the show. Then there was yet another television shocker this week. The sad news came that Syfy has cancelled Dark Matter after its third season.

The show’s co-creator Joseph Mallozzi commented in a blog post:

It is with great sadness that I confirm the news.  Syfy has cancelled Dark Matter after three seasons.

To say that I’m incredibly disappointed would be an understatement.

I’ll save my comments and field your questions in a future blog entry.  For today, I just want to extend a heartfelt thanks to my amazing crew, my wonderful cast, and to all of you, our incredible fans.

You all deserved better.

In a follow up post, Mallozzi described the economic reasons why the show was not renewed, and concluded with his long term plans, and immediate plans post cancellation. He concluded:

The nature of the show I created and developed over many years wouldn’t allow for a nice, neat wrap up at season’s end.  Dark Matter’s narrative was designed as a series of set-ups, developments, and payoffs, with multiple parallel storylines that would eventually cross and converge.  Season 1 begins with our crew discovering they are criminals and ends with them being hauled off to prison.  Season 2 begins with them inside the Hyperion-8 galactic prison and ends with their failing to head off a corporate war and deny a former ally.  Season 3 begins with the crew facing off against that former ally amidst the backdrop of corporate war and ends with the alien invasion. Season 4 will begin with our crew, and humanity’s, response to the alien threat… The fact that I have a five year plan (rather than just making it up as I go along) means I know exactly where the various stories are headed.  I know all the answers to all of the questions.  And having that foreknowledge allows for a much more satisfying narrative when all of the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place. It also means that no matter how much I could try to wrap things up in a season finale, many questions would remain unanswered.  Still, I figured as a final alternative, I could try my damnedest and offer fans some degree of closure by pitching SYFY a 6-episode miniseries to wrap it up.  This, unfortunately, was not an option either.

We, on the Dark Matter production team, tried our damnedest.  And you, the fans, tried your damnedest.  We ALL tried our damnedest.  And still we were cancelled.

So, where does that leave us?  Besides cancelled of course?  Well, as many of you have pointed out, there are other options we could pursue, although finding someone to step in and take SYFY’s place is easier said than done (for reasons I’ll save for another blog entry).

For now, know that we’re doing everything possible to save the show.  It may take weeks before we have our answers but I promise to let you know as soon as I hear anything.  In the meantime, do you part by keeping Dark Matter alive.  Tweet, retweet, post and respond!  Let ’em know what they’re missing!

The news was better for fans of Killjoys. The series was renewed for two additional seasons before the series ends.

The finale of the Twin  Peaks revival is on tonight. I’m not even going to attempt to describe where the show is going into the finale, but AV Club has a short video to bring you up to date.

Rolling Stone wrote on the choice of Jodie Whittaker to become the next lead on Doctor Who:

“I’m the type of person that you’d walk past and go, ‘I think I went to school with her,’ or ‘I know her and I can’t quite place it.’” says Jodie Whittaker, calling from the kitchen of her London flat. “It certainly isn’t, ‘I know her full name, and I can tell you who she is.’

For the British actress, that’s probably about to change. On July 16th, it was announced that she would be playing the next Dr. Who – the 13th incarnation of the time-traveling alien, and the first female to ever take on the iconic role since the debuted in 1963. “I remember walking through London after that going, ‘What the fuck?!?'” she says, recalling a coffee date with Dr. Who showrunner Chris Chibnall – the one in which he had asked her if she would consider auditioning for the part. “I was like, ‘I want to audition now!'” she says. “As a young girl, I did not think that ‘Time Lord’ would ever be on my CV.”

Whittaker – who grew up hooked on Eighties movies (“I’m from that Spielberg era of wonderful make-believe”) in Huddersfield, a Yorkshire town in the north of England – had already made a name for herself in a number of feature films (from Venus, opposite Peter O’Toole, to the cult sci-fi flick Attack the Block) and the breakout BBC hits Broadchurch and Black Mirror. Still, she had to fight for the part, going through multiple rounds of auditions. And Whittaker says she was heartened by the fact that the casting search was not a scattershot one. “I have no idea who, but I know I was up against other actresses,” she claims. “It was very much that [Chibnall] was auditioning people for the first female Doctor.”

Since then, she has already been hailed as a feminist icon and become the target of Internet trolls who view her casting as a form of sacrilege (i.e. “Nobody wants a Tardis full of bras”). “I’m playing an alien,” Whittaker scoffs, “and gender is not a part of that.” In fact, to her mind, the genderlessness of the role only makes the iconic part more feminist. “A moment like this of being the first woman cast as something,” she says, “it makes you really think about your sex, whereas actually what you want to do is play a part where your gender is irrelevant. I am a woman, so I don’t need to play that. And so for me, this was the most freeing experience because there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The rules went out the window.'”

Last week I quoted newspaper reports that Bradley Walsh has been picked to be the 13th Doctor’s companion. This has not been officially announced or confirmed by the BBC.

Karen Gillan has put up pictures on Instagram showing her reunion with Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill at Dragon Con.

In other entertainment news, Walter Becker, co-founder of Steely Dan, has died at 67. The New York Times reports:

Walter Becker, the guitarist, bassist and co-founder of the rock duo Steely Dan, one of the most successful and adventurous groups of the 1970s and early ’80s, died on Sunday. He was 67.

His death was announced on his official website, which gave no other details. He lived in Maui, Hawaii.

Mr. Becker had missed performances in Los Angeles and New York earlier this year. Donald Fagen, the band’s other co-founder and lead singer, told Billboard last month that Mr. Becker had been “recovering from a procedure, and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon.” He gave no other details.

Steely Dan had little use for rock’s excesses, creating instead a sophisticated, jazz-inflected sound with tricky harmonies. Mr. Becker was the primary arranger.

Starting in 1972, after Mr. Becker and Mr. Fagen had met at Bard College, the group produced hit singles like “Do It Again,” ‘Reelin’ In the Years,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Deacon Blues,” as well as a raft of critically lauded albums, including “Pretzel Logic,” “The Royal Scam,” “Aja” and “Gaucho,” the latter two widely regarded as their most artistically accomplished.

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black Series Finale; Doctor Who; Hugo Awards; How I Met Your Father; Wayward Pines; Sense8; Hannibal; GLOW; Kristen Wiig Returning To The Last Man On Earth; The Defenders

The series finale of Orphan Black aired last night and had two different halves. Initially they concluded the story from the previous week to save Helena as she was having twins. The overall mythology of the series took a big step towards concluding with the death of Westmoreland.

However, while many series would have ended here, the heart of Orphan Black has always been seeing the sisters and other characters together. They were separated a large part of this season with much of the action taking place on the island, but we got a final party with them all at Helena’s baby shower. We also learned that Helena was writing a book about her sestras, starting with the event of the show’s pilot when Sarah first saw Beth.

Besides the partying, another portion of the mythology was dealt with. Rachel continued her redemption by giving Felix a list of all 274 Leda clones, allowing the episode to conclude with Cosima and Delphine traveling to give them the treatment.

This might not be the end as there was talk about following up the series with a movie.

Deadline interviewed  John Fawcett:

DEADLINE: I have to ask right at the top, is this the series finale that Graeme and yourself envisioned for Orphan Black from the beginning? 

FAWCETT: I think it is in a lot of ways. In some respects, I think that we imagined that the finale really was going to boil down to Sarah and Helena, and that we were going to have to deal with P.T. Westmoreland. We knew that, critically, we were going to have a really kind of dirty, awful, nasty birth, and that that was going to be part of kind of this two-part finale.

DEADLINE: Well, that does sound like “To Right The Wrongs of Many” in a nutshell…

FAWCETT: Yes, but I think we also understood that killing P.T. Westmoreland was important, but not the most important thing for us. It is something you had to do, but that, tonally, for the final episode, we wanted it to be a much more emotional episode. We wanted to structure it in a way that we were finished with plot fairly early on in the episode so that we could make this time jump, as we did. We were really interested in moving forward into the future three months to see where everyone is.

DEADLINE: Part of that jump, nearly at the very end, with the backyard party at Alison’s with the core sestras together around a still shattered Sarah, was Helena reading from her book called Orphan Black of her life and the other clones. Why did you choose that bookending, pardon the pun?

FAWCETT: That was something we devised at the beginning of Season 5, though we had talked about it before. We liked the idea that Helena has been jotting down her memoirs and really, like, exactly that, it comes down to the sisters. It comes down to the twin sisters, between Sarah and Helena.

It’s very important that we’ve ended this in a way that we believed it was nice to have some really strong belief that Helena, after everything that she’s come through, is now going to be a very capable mother. So that somehow, by having her read her journals and her memoirs and bringing us back to the beginning of the series, it just seemed like the right place to end her. You know, we laughed a lot about the idea that Helena would wind up somewhere getting a book deal and maybe going on a book tour at some point. Of course, that’s just what we’ve joked about.

DEADLINE: But the series finale is not really the end of Orphan Black is it? With Cosima and Delphine now traveling the world to find the other 274 Ledas, there is a lot of ripe story or a lot more stories to tell, isn’t there?

FAWCETT: It certainly is. I think that to Graham and I, the imagery and the ideas that come from the concept of Delphine and Cosima out in the world journeying to find these 274 Ledas is certainly ripe, there’s no question. We’ve talked since the beginning of wanting to do some kind of feature or some kind of two-hour continuation of the series.

At this point, I think we’re happy that it’s come to a conclusion that we feel satisfied with, and it closes this chapter. Graham and I are both going to let it sit for a little bit, but I know that these characters are so strong with us and so engrained with us, that there’s certainly a chance that we’ll pick that up and continue…

More at TV Line here and here. Another interview with the producers at Entertainment Weekly included how they considered killing off Rachel. Interview with Tatiana Maslany here.

David Tennant appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert prior to the series finale of Broadchurch airing in the United States. He talked about how Broadchurch is ending after only three seasons, which would not be what would happen with a successful show in the United States:

“It’s a peculiarly British thing. I think we see something that works, and we run from it — you heard about Brexit?” Tennant asked. “That’s what we do. If it works, and it’s solid, and it makes money, and it’s good for everyone in it, abandon it immediately.”

Tennant also talked about the fans who are unhappy with the choice of Jodie Whittaker to play the next Doctor:

David Tennant, the 10th regeneration of Doctor Who‘s title character, was one of Stephen Colbert’s guests on Wednesday’s Late Show, and Colbert asked about his new, slightly controversial successor, Doctor No. 13. “How do you feel, or do you have any feelings about Jodie Whittaker breaking the glass TARDIS ceiling and becoming the first female Doctor?” he asked, and Tennant did. “I’m delighted,” he said, noting that Whittaker has starred with him on the BBC detective show Broadchurch for three seasons. “She’s a mate of mine,” as well as the right actor at the right time.

Colbert noted that not every Doctor Who fan has been so pleased. “Are you surprised that there’s been any backlash at all?” he asked. “Do you know, whenever the Doctor changes there’s a backlash, because that’s a character that people love so people get very affectionate about the Doctor they knew,” Tennant said. When he took over the role of the iconic time lord from Christopher Eccleston, “they were like, ‘Who’s the weaselly looking guy? Who’s this? I liked the last guy! This is not going to work for me! This show is dead to me! I resign from the internet! [send].'” And it won’t last, he added. “Sure, Jodie is from a different gender than anyone who has gone before, but that will be irrelevant almost immediately once she takes the part.”

In recent interviews, Jodie Whittaker has discussed being chosen for the role. She was also interviewed by BBC News in this video:

Peter Capaldi has discussed filming his regeneration scene and leaving Doctor Who.

The Hugo Award winners have been announced. The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin  won the award for Best Novel. Arrival won for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form). The final episode of the first season of The Expanse, Leviathan Wakes, won the award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). This was also the name of the first novel in the Expanse series. The full list of nominees and winners can be found here.

After two attempts at a spin off of How I Met Your Mother, 20th Century Fox has now commissioned a spec script from  Alison Bennett, a writer from You’re The Worst, for another attempt entitled  How I Met Your Father. (A previous spin off was to be called How I Met Your Dad). If you know the original show, the premise of the new show should be obvious from the title. The last attempt was to be by This Is Us co-executive producers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, but they had to drop the idea with the success of This Is Us. Perhaps combining the original comedy style of HIMYM with some aspects of You’re The Worst could be the way to go.

A third season for Wayward Pines remains a possibility, but no plans yet.

Lana Wachowski is hopeful that Sense8 will receive an entire third season, beyond the single episode Netflix agreed to in order to wrap up the story.

Bryan Fuller says that talks about a fourth season of Hannibal, presumably at a different network, couldn’t start until two years after the final episode of season three aired. Such conversations have now begun, and hopefully the show will be back in some form.

Netflix has renewed Alison Brie’s series GLOW for a second season.

Kristen Wiig will be back in at least three episodes of The Last Man On Earth.

The big event coming up is the release of The Defenders–final trailer above. In preparation for its release, I gave in and watched Iron Fist last week. As I went into it with low expectations from its poor reviews, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised. It certainly did have its flaws, such as people changing sides too often to be believable, but was quite watchable. It was one of those shows which I spent a lot of time web surfing and otherwise multitasking while watching, which I would have never done with Jessica Jones. If nothing else, a sequence which equates pharmaceutical reps with drug pushers made it all worthwhile.

SciFi Weekend: Jodie Whittaker Cast As The 13th Doctor; Game of Thrones Returns; George A. Romero and Martin Landau Die

After fifty-four years there will be a female lead on Doctor WhoJodie Whittaker shows that glass ceilings can be broken, especially when you have the right woman. News came out earlier in the week  that the identity of the thirteenth doctor would be revealed with a video which featured the number 13:

We finally saw who held the key to the TARDIS in another video earlier today:

Jodie Whittaker was revealed to be the thirteenth Doctor, and Chris Chibnall said he had always wanted his first lead to be a woman:

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman, and we’re thrilled to have secured our No. 1 choice. Her audition for the Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role.”

In retrospect this is should not come as a surprise. While Jodie Whittaker has had more genre-oriented roles, the most important one leading to getting this role must have been playing Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, which Chibnall was show runner for. He showed that he thought Whittaker was important by giving her a new position in the third season to provide for significant on screen time even though the focus of the show had changed.

Her role on Broadchurch also enabled Whittaker to work with both a former Doctor (Peter Tennant) and a former companion (Arthur Darvill).

The BBC has posted an interview with Jodie Whittaker about taking this new role:

1) What does it feel like to be the Thirteenth Doctor?
It’s very nerve-racking, as it’s been so secret!

2) Why did you want the role?
To be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: this is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place. To be able to play someone who is literally reinvented on screen, with all the freedoms that brings: what an unbelievable opportunity. And added to that, to be the first woman in that role.

3) Has it been hard to keep the secret?
Yes. Very hard! I’ve told a lot of lies! I’ve embroiled myself in a whole world of lies which is going to come back at me when this is announced!

4) Who was the first person you told when you got the role?
My husband. Because I was allowed to!

5) Did you have a codename and if so what was it?
In my home, and with my agent, it was The Clooney. Because to me and my husband, George is an iconic guy. And we thought: what’s a really famous iconic name? It was just fitting.

6) What does it feel like to be the first woman Doctor?
It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be. It feels incredible.

7) What do you want to tell the fans?
I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.

8) What are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about becoming part of a family I didn’t even know existed. I was born in 1982, it’s been around longer than me, and it’s a family I couldn’t ever have dreamed I’d be part of.

9) How did Chris sell you the part?
We had a strange chat earlier this year where he tricked me into thinking we were talking about Broadchurch. And I started to quiz him about his new job in Wales, and asked him if I could be a baddie! And he quickly diverted the conversation to suggest I should consider auditioning to be the 13th Clooney.

It was the most incredible chat because I asked every question under the sun, and I said I’d take a few weeks to decide whether I was going to audition. He got a phone call within 24 hours. He would’ve got a phone call sooner, but my husband was away and there was a time difference!

10) Did he persuade you?
No. There was no persuasion needed. If you need to be persuaded to do this part, you’re not right for this part, and the part isn’t right for you. I also think, for anyone taking this on, you have to want to fight for it, which I certainly had to do. I know there will have been some phenomenal actors who threw their hats in the ring.

11) What are you going to wear?
Don’t know yet.

12) Is that your costume in the filmed sequence which introduced you as the new Doctor?
No.

13) Have any of the other Doctors given you advice?
Well they can’t because they haven’t known until now, but I’m certainly expecting a couple of calls – I’ve got a couple of mates in there. I’m mates with a companion [Arthur Darvill], I’m mates with a trio of Doctors. I know Matt Smith, Chris Eccleston and obviously David Tennant. Oh! And let’s throw in David Bradley! Four Doctors! So I’m hoping I get some calls of advice.

I first heard Whittaker’s name as a front runner yesterday, and was excited by the prospect of an actress of her ability taking on the role. Being an American who watches some, but limited, British television, this was only the second time (after Peter Capaldi) I was familiar with an incoming Doctor’s work at the time they were cast. I had previously gotten accustomed to the idea of a woman receiving the role when another British actress I’m familiar with, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, was often being called the front runner.

In retrospect I suspect that Steven Moffat was helping Chris Chibnall set up for this transition. The first mention I can recall that a Time Lord can regenerate into a man or woman occurred in The Doctor’s Wife. There have been minor characters who changed gender as Time Lords, but the most significant was when The Master regenerated into Missy, played by Michelle Gomez. The possibility of the Doctor being a woman was further foreshadowed this season. The Doctor suggested that he might have been a woman in the past in World Enough And Time. In the season finale, The Doctor Falls, there was an exchange in which the Master asked, “Will the future be all girl?” and the Doctor answered, “We can only hope.”

There has been some negative reaction among fans, but reaction has generally been positive among reviewers (such as here) and those involved with the show. Peter Capaldi had this to say: “Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”

The Guardian had additional comments:

Emily Cook, editorial assistant at Doctor Who magazine, said: “I am very excited about this. As soon as I saw Jodie Whittaker appear on the video in the BBC clip announcing her, it just felt right – she just felt like the Doctor. Having a female Doctor is really exciting and significant. I cannot wait to see what she does with the role and where she takes the show.

“She will bring a freshness. She is younger than Peter Capaldi and, being a woman, she will have a different approach to the role. It’s completely new territory for the show and that is very exciting. Whittaker has worked with David Tennant on Broadchurch and St Trinian’s so there is a strong Doctor Who connection there.”

Erica Lear, the social secretary at the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, said: “I think it’s very brave but she is a brilliant actress. I did not expect it but I think it’s brilliant. My only wish was that we have a good actor and that is what we have.”

But Lear noted that the appointment might divide opinion. “It will spark debate and split fandom; there will be lots of people not happy with the decision but it’s up to the new series to change their mind.”

It will be interesting to see what direction the show goes in beyond naming a woman Doctor. While they can take the show in multiple directions, I suspect that her portrayal of the Doctor might be more conventional beyond the gender change, while it would have probably been more off beat if they had gone with Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In order to save time in getting to the action, it is commonplace for the Doctor to go to new surroundings and quickly take control. Will this stay the same or will they show a woman having more difficulty here? Will the Daleks recognize her as the Doctor? What will be her relationship with her companion or companions?

It could also be interesting to bring back some past characters. Doctor Who has had a female Time Ladies in the past, including two different regenerations of Romana. Maybe Romana can return, possibly regenerated into a male Roman. For that matter, will she be called a Time Lord or Time Lady?

The most interesting match up could be if they bring back River Song. There were two different situations in the Star Trek universe in which aliens changed sex in situations somewhat comparable to regeneration involving Beverley Crusher and Dax. In both of those situations, romances were not continued when the gender of both partners became female, although different reasons than being the same sex were given. Society has changed a lot since then. Today I think the best way to handle River Song meeting Thirteen would be for her to just say “hello sweetie” and totally ignore the gender change.

Game of Thrones has also returned tonight. In the spirit of today’s lead story I’ll direct your attention towards a story at Wired entitled, This Is How GAME OF THRONES Ends In Total Matriarchy.Of course there are some major characters who are male who are not likely to give up without a fight.  Incidentally, Sophie Turner does not think that Sansa Stark should sit on the Iron Throne. She sees Sansa as taking control of Winterfell while Jon Snow ultimately sits on the Iron Throne.

There was news of two deaths. George A. Romero, creator of  Night of the Living Dead, died at age 77. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero, father of the modern movie zombie and creator of the groundbreaking “Night of the Living Dead” franchise, has died at 77.

Romero died Sunday in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” according to a statement to The Times provided by his longtime producing partner, Peter Grunwald. Romero died while listening to the score of one his favorite films, 1952’s “The Quiet Man,” with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, at his side, the family said.

Romero jump-started the zombie genre as the co-writer (with John A. Russo) and director of the 1968 movie “Night of the Living Dead,” which went to show future generations of filmmakers such as Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter that generating big scares didn’t require big budgets. “Living Dead” spawned an entire school of zombie knockoffs, and Romero’s sequels included 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead,” 1985’s “Day of the Dead,” 2005’s “Land of the Dead,” 2007’s “Diary of the Dead” and 2009’s “George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead.”

The original film, since colorized, has become a Halloween TV staple. Among other notable aspects of the cult classic was the casting of a black actor, Duane Jones, in the lead role, marking a milestone in the horror genre.

Martin Landau died at age 89. Deadline reports:

Academy Award winning actor of Ed Wood, Martin Landau has died at the age of 89. Also known for his versatile roles in classic films like Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and for his role in the Mission: Impossible television series as master of disguise Rollin Hand , the actor died Saturday of “unexpected complications.”

…His career in television, film, and stage spanned over five decades.  “Martin Landau is living proof that Hollywood will find great roles for great actors at any stage of their careers,” said Guttman in a release.

He made his big screen debut the Gregory Peck war film Pork Chop Hill in 1959, but his first major film appearance was North by Northwest, a role he nabbed when Hitchcock after saw his stage performance with Edward G. Robinson in Paddy Chayefsky’s Middle of the Night. In addition to the classic film and TV’s Mission: Impossible, he starred opposite Jeff Bridges in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man His Dream in 1988, where he received his first Oscar nomination. The following year he earned his second Oscar nod for his role as Judah Rosenthal in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors. In 1994, when he received a third nom and won for Best Supporting Actor in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood where he played Bela Lugosi.

His performance in Ed Wood also earned him a Golden Globe Award the Screen Actor Guild’s first annual award, The American Comedy Award, The New York Film Critics Award, The National Society of Film Critics Award, The Chicago Film Critics Award, The Los Angeles Film Critics Award, and every other award for Best Supporting Actor in 1994. He collaborated with Burton again as a voice actor for his animated features 9 and Frankenweenie.

Landau also stared in the science fiction television show, Space 1999 in 1975-6.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Eaters of Light Review and Chris Chibnall Hints At Plans For Next Season

Eaters of Light was a filler episode of Doctor Who before we get into the two-part season finale. It was written by Rona Munro, who wrote Survival, the last serial of classic Doctor Who. Some elements of the old serials could be seen compressed into this episode. Munro has also been working as a play write, and this could be seen in the excellent dialog of the episode, which helped make up for the weakness of its plot.

In some ways I felt like I was watching a different version of last week’s Empress of Mars. Like last week’s episode, it began with a brief scene in the present or near-future which raised a question–this time the TARDIS engraved on a stone. The story then went back to resolve the mystery. Like last week, the plot was pushed forward by Bill falling. Again there were the themes of redemption for cowardice, the folly of war, and the need for enemies to work together for their common survival.

Besides the minor mystery of the TARDIS being engraved on the stone, two other common ideas from Doctor Who were seen. An old mystery, in this case what happened to the Ninth Roman Legion  in the second century AD, was “answered.” We also “learned” a lot about crows and how they communicate.

Bill showed her science fiction geekiness in figuring out the telepathic autotranslation functions of the TARDIS, although this revelation would have made more sense earlier in the season. This came into play in also allowing the previously warring parties to communicate and settle their differences in order to work together. Bill’s sexual preferences were easily understood by a Roman soldier. Bill also played a role in motivating the others, which ultimately set them up for their sacrifice at the end: “If you come with me, I can’t promise that you won’t die but, I can promise you this: you won’t all die in a hole in the ground.”

Nardole played comic relief, initially going around in his bathrobe like Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Later he changed clothes and did some face painting to fit in with the natives.

The plot did have its problems. I was bothered early on when Bill just went off on her own with no weapons, no way to communicate, and no way for anyone to track her. This did propel the plot, and everyone did get together after being separated, as often happened over and over again in the classic serials.

The entire enemy creature was weakly described. After other episodes in which the “monster” turned out to not be entirely evil, with motivations which made sense, we had a rather simple monster here. It is best to ignore much of the explanation and settle with this:

The Doctor: “It’s as if his bones disintegrated.”

Nardole: “What could do that?”

The Doctor: “A complete and total absence of any kind of sunlight.”

Nardole: “Death by Scotland.”

It was predictable that the Doctor might be willing to spend eternity battling the monster to protect earth, but hardly clear how the gate works or how the humans, with their brief lifespans and no regenerations, could accomplish this. It is best to just move on and get back to the TARDIS where we were surprised by the presence of Missy. The Doctor has upset both Bill and Nardole by allowing her out, but for the moment it appears she is trying to be good. Unfortunately for the Doctor, that does not mean she sees things the same way as he does.

Missy: “Those little people, trapped in a hill, fighting forever – – is that really up to your bleeding-heart standards?

The Doctor: “You understand the universe, you see it, you grasp it, but you never learn to hear the music.”

We should learn soon whether Missy really is good, and the previews reveal (as was already known) that both the John Simm version of the Master and the Mondasian Cybermen play a part.

The upcoming two part episode and the Christmas episode will also mark the end of Steven Moffat’s tenure as show runner, and the end of the current configuration the Doctor and his current companions. We may have learned something interesting about next season from incoming show running Chris Chibnall:

Season 11 of Doctor Who is going to be new… very new. There will be a new Doctor, a new showrunner, and apparently a new format. Chris Chibnall, who is slated to come on board as showrunner in 2018, has hinted at going away from the monster of the week format and into a more broad series storyline. As long as the TARDIS allows.

The writer/producer, who is coming off of the blazing BBC hit Broadchurch is fond of season-long storytelling, proven through the compelling, addictive crime drama. As the new head honcho, the style could easily bleed into Doctor Who, giving the season one single storyline…

Though Chibnall stayed mum on most Doctor details (ahem, like who is going to play the Doctor), he did respond to the question if he would be allowed to do a whole-season story­line, like Broadchurch, rather than individual episodes. To which he responded: “Yes. What the BBC was after was risk and boldness.”

Considering how difficult it must be to come up with a fresh story every week, this might be a good idea. Chibnall showed that he can keep a season long story arc interesting on Broadchurch (with the first and third seasons far better than the second). More on Chris Chibnall here.

***

Much more has happened in genre beyond Doctor Who, but I have had to limit the last couple of posts due to traveling. I still want to get to the question of whether Nora was telling the truth in the series finale of The Leftovers. Gotham ended the season with major character development for many characters, including Bruce Wayne. Dark Matter has continued from where last season left off, and is pushing some of its characters in new directions. Wynonna Earp has also returned on Syfy. I have not seen this series yet, but based upon recommendations of others it is now high on my list of series to catch up on. Orphan Black has also had major developments in its first two episodes, including the death of a clone. We are well into the revival of Twin Peaks, but still have not seen the real version of Special Agent Dale Cooper in the real world. I also just completed House of Cards, which is struggling to be even more outrageous than real life politics these days.

I am hoping to get caught up by next weekend to review some of these shows in greater detail.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Pilot & Smile; Broadchurch Series Finale; The Magicians Season Finale; The Expanse Season Finale

It was a huge week with several shows returning or ending for the season. Scheduling forced me to break from the usual pattern of reviewing the week’s episode of Doctor Who last week, so I will look at both Pilot and Smile today.

Pilot was not only a show centered around the the introduction of a new companion, but was a partial reboot. The episode did have references to past characters and events, but it would be possible to follow the show without understanding those and watch Doctor Who for the first time. This was perhaps an unusual time to do this considering that next season there will be a new show runner, new Doctor, and probably a new companion, making an even bigger break.

Instead of traveling around time and space, the Doctor is working as a university professor, where he meets his new companion Bill Potts, a worker at the university, who sits in on the Doctor’s lectures. The Doctor was intrigued by her for doing this. Plus he noticed that while most people frown when exposed to something they do not understand, Bill would smile. Although the Doctor was not yet, at least consciously, looking for a new traveling companion, this would be a necessary characteristic of a companion who is constantly exposed to new situations. Teaching was also a position which seems to go along with the various episodes in which Peter Capaldi used a chalk board to write on.

The Doctor supposedly has been lecturing for fifty years, with the TARDIS sitting in the corner of his office with an “out of order” sign. His desk also contains pictures of Susan and of River Song. Between items in his lectures, and conversations with Bill, viewers received an overview of what the Doctor, the TARDIS, and time travel are all about. Of course don’t get too concerned about the details, including details which only Bill has asked such as why an acronym in a language from another planet would still spell out TARDIS. In the end the Doctor gave the essential meaning: “Time and Relative Dimension in Space. It means what the hell.”

The episode was primarily about establishing the relationship between Bill and the Doctor, and was entertaining by having Bill ask questions, and not necessarily react as other companions do. They dragged out Bill giving the inevitable “It’s bigger on the inside” line. As for how it works: “First you have to imagine a very big box fitting inside a very small box. Then you have to make one … it’s the second part people normally get stuck on.”

They played on the “Doctor Who?” question with a new variation when Bill asked, “The Doctor’s not a name. I can’t just call you Doctor. Doctor what?”

Of course there were two other elements to this story. There is the vault which the Doctor is protecting, which provides the reason for why he is teaching at the university for fifty  years. There is no clue as to when this happens.  Perhaps the Doctor went back in time fifty years  and began his job at the university, overlapping with his existence on earth which we have seen. More likely, we are not supposed to question this.

There was also a story, but the story of the sentient oil would not have been enough to carry an episode by itself. It did give an excuse for the Doctor to take Bill on a trip in the TARDIS, going both to other places and times under the excuse of seeing if they could be followed.

The Doctor did not intend to travel with Bill and threatened to wipe her mind. Bill is aware of science fiction tropes, and realized that was his intent. She talked him out of it by questioning how he would feel if it happened to him This brought to mind both how the Doctor wiped Donna’s mind in Journey’s End, and how his own mind was wiped of memories of Clara in Hell Bent.

The second episode, Smile, had more of a story than Pilot, but it was still fairly weak in terms of plot. Again it was the relationship between the Doctor and Bill which made the episode worthwhile. There were more questions, such as “Why have you got two hearts? Does that mean you’ve got really high blood pressure?” The continuing story line of the vault was brought up again with this rather vague explanation: “A long time ago a thing happened. As a result of the thing, I made a promise. As a result of the promise, I have to stay on Earth.”

Nardole reminded the Doctor that he had promised to remain on earth, but the Doctor pointed out to Bill that they could still leave and, due to time travel, return to just after they left. “Between here and my office before the kettle boils, is everything that ever happened or ever will. Make your choice.”It was a perfect plan–if you ignored the consequences if the Doctor didn’t make it back. Perhaps we will see those consequences later this season. Bill chose to go to the future. I believe that in the new series, the second episode for every new companion other than Donna was a trip to the future.

Having the Doctor sneak out on Nardole gave a good reason to leave him out and concentrate on developing the relationship between Bill and the Doctor. Bill continued to have her questions and observations about the TARDIS. She questioned the lack of seats at a proper height to operate the TARDIS: “Oh, that’s a mistake. You can’t reach the controls from the seats. What’s the point in that? Or do you have stretchy arms like Mr. Fantastic?”

The Doctor explained how the TARDIS works: “Well, you don’t steer the TARDIS. You negotiate with her. The still point between where you want to go and where you need to be, that’s where she takes you.” This referred to what we learned in The Doctor’s Wife, and really is what occurs in most episodes. They weren’t entirely consistent. The Doctor also told Bill that he had stolen the TARDIS. However, we learned in The Doctor’s Wife that the TARDIS sees it more as if she stole the Doctor.

The story was a fairly basic science fiction story about robots both messing up their programming and developing sentience. The “skeleton crew” were turned into skeletons due to poor logic on the part of the robots, and used for fertilizer. I could easily see Captain Kirk beaming down to the same planet and solving the problem in a similar manner. I was disappointed in how easily they threw in a solution at the end, stealing from The IT Crowd in turning it off and turning it on again.

The episode, filming at the Cultural Complex in Valencia, Spain did look far better than most futuristic episodes of Doctor Who, which often take place in a cramped space ship or a quarry. It does fit into the future as established in previous episodes such as The Arc In Space and The Beast Below in which humans have left earth due to solar flares.

Besides such references to previous episodes of Doctor Who, the episode included other references. The earth ship was named Erehwon, which both spells “nowhere” backwards and is very similar to Erewhon, Samual Butler’s novel about an imperfect Utopia, also including sentient machines. The Vardy were named after Andrew Vardy, who has studies swarm robotics. Even the planet where the story occurs, Gliese 581d, is a real  potential destination for humans leaving earth in search of a habitable planet.

Although only Pilot was written by Steven Moffat, the two episodes did have some things in common. Moffat is famous for making a simple act such as blinking something to be terrified of. In Pilot, you could not look at your reflection, and in Smile you dare not frown. In both cases, the “monster” of the episode turned out to not really be evil. As the Doctor said, “Hardly anything is evil, but most things are hungry. Hunger looks very like evil from the wrong end of the cutlery. Or do you think your bacon sandwich loves you back?”

The episode ended going right into the next episode, as was done in the older shows. I liked this, but I imagine it might frustrate novelists and fan fiction writers who wish to place a story in between television episodes.

Neither of the two episodes had great stories, but they served the function of introducing us to both Bill and the presumably season long story involving the vault. I don’t know if this will extend into the Christmas episode, which will feature the Doctor’s regeneration, but we did learn a little about the episode. Perhaps this will tie into the picture of Susan on the Doctor’s desk in Pilot. Reportedly the Christmas episode will include the first Doctor, originally played by William Hartnell. David Bradley will reprise this role from An Adventure In Space In Time.

Broadchurch concluded on Monday night in the U.K. but has not been shown in the United States yet. Those planning to watch should skip to the next section as this contains major spoilers regarding both the second and third seasons.

The finale revealed the Trish had not one but two rapists (and there were many other suspects before this was revealed).  Leo bullied Michael into raping Trish while he filmed it. Leo was by far the bigger villain of the two, displaying a total lack of morals when he justified his actions. He saw it as “just sex” which didn’t matter as Trish (and the girls he raped in the past) had all previously had sex. He showed no understanding of the violence in raping them, or even of the violence in hitting Trish over the head. As Miller had said earlier in the season, “Rape is about power and control, not sex.”

Chris Chibnall will be moving on to do Doctor Who and has stated there will not be a fourth season of Broadchurch. While this was a satisfactory conclusion, if they were going to do a season about trials, I would prefer to see a trial of Leo and Michael as opposed to the second season, in which  Joe Miller was found not guilty. Michael certainly deserves punishment for his role in raping Trish, but a defense based upon claims of being coerced to rape her could have created some interesting scenes. Although Leo technically did not rape Trish himself, the show made it very easy to convict Leo, between how he knocked Trish unconscious and the revelations of his previous rapes. It could have made a more interesting trial if these events had not occurred, and he was being tried purely on psychologically influencing Michael to commit the act.

From the start, Broadchurch has been more than a show about solving a crime. It is about the people who live in Broadchurch. This included more on Mark and Beth Latimer, whose son’s murder was the main story line of the first season. Incidentally, a deleted scene revealed more about another event of the third season–how Alec Hardy’s Tinder date ended.

The Magicians had an excellent season finale, which provided more backstory from Ember’s perspective. The finale also totally changed things going into the third season after magic was turned off by the plumber–a consequence of killing gods and not realizing that gods have parents. After Julia started out the series being rejected by Brakebills, she is now the only human with magic. Perhaps this ties into what we learned earlier in the season about how she did in another life where she had been admitted.

TV Line interviewed executive producers John McNamara and Sera Gamble:

TVLINE | In a season where you had Reynard the Fox and The Beast, was Ember the alpha Big Bad?
JOHN MCNAMARA | I would say yes. While The Beast had a large effect on the misery of Martin Chatwin, Quentin and his friends, and Fillory, and Reynard really affected Julia and her circle of friends in a miserable, violent way, Ember — through whimsical, kind of careless, narcissistic boredom — was going to destroy an entire world. He’s going to commit genocide. So I don’t think badness gets bigger than genocide. [But] I could be wrong. There could be something else.
SERA GAMBLE | Tune in for Season 3! [Laughs] Just the fact that you’re asking this question at all highlights the fact that the structure of Season 2 is a little different than Season 1. When you meet The Beast in the pilot of The Magicians, it’s clear that there’s a classic Big Bad arc to that season that we followed and commented on in our meta, Magicians way. Coming into Season 2, it was very important to us to switch that up a little bit and not give you that same linear Big Bad structure. We didn’t want you to know who the endgame was when you came in for the first episode of the season…

TVLINE | Going back to Reynard, is he still a threat? Will we see him next season?
MCNAMARA | He’s alive. You never know.
GAMBLE | I think it’s fair to take Our Lady Underground at her word that she intends to deal with him. She’s certainly powerful enough to do so.

TVLINE | The guiding principle of the show is magic, so what excites you about exploring a world without magic?
MCNAMARA | The same thing that excites me in a James Bond movie where he gets into so much trouble with M that they take away his license to kill and he has to go rogue. Or the same thing that excites me when you write a love story and, suddenly, in the middle of Red Square in 1917, the two lovers are separated. The essence of drama. You give the audience what they want, you make them love it, and then you take it away. … Magic was, more or less, taken for granted [in the first two seasons]. When they get magic back — because let’s not kid ourselves, it’s called The Magicians — they’re all going to have a very different relationship to magic, informed by having lived with its absence and the quest to reinstate it.

TVLINE | Julia is the only one who still has some magical ability. After everything she’s been through these last two seasons, was it important for you to give her a little bit of happiness and hope?
MCNAMARA | I don’t really care if she’s happy, myself. I do think life is a balance of light and dark, and she’s certainly had a lot of darkness. So it makes sense that she would acquire abilities that perhaps are based on how much she’s suffered. Suffering at the hands of a god may have had something to do with it. We haven’t decided yet.
GAMBLE | I felt like after a season of seeking out Reynard at great, great personal cost and great cost to those around her who were helping her, it was important to see her turn a page. But whether or not that is one and the same with this strange ability to do a little bit of magic, that remains to be seen. At the very beginning of that scene, when Julia embraces Quentin, and they’re happy to see each other, and they have a certain dry resignation about their shared hand in what has happened to magic, it’s much more, in that moment, about the fact that you’re looking at a Julia who feels a little bit more whole than she has been throughout this season. Her shade is back, she clearly has found some coping mechanism. She doesn’t look like death warmed over in that scene. Some of that might be about her secret and about the magic she can do. To me, a lot of it is about Julia and just what she’s been through that season. So long story short, I wouldn’t hinge everybody’s happiness on that little piece of magic, because if there’s one thing you should know about Magicians, it’s that having magic doesn’t make you happy.

TVLINE | Am I correct in sensing that there’s some tension between Quentin and Alice after the time jump?
GAMBLE | Yes. Alice has a lot of secrets.

Gizmodo has interviews with the stars. Entertainment Weekly has a longer interview with Stella Maeve  (Julia).

The week also included the series finale of Girls and season finale of 24 Legacy, neither of which I was very impressed with. I am still far behind and have not seen the season two finale of The Expanse, but I hear it was excellent. I have not read this yet, but have book marked an interview with executive producer Naren Shankar on the finale. I do expect to watch next season as it airs and will be able to discuss it in future posts.