SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Season Finale; Sex Ed On The Magicians; Roswell; Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow; Black Panther

Star Trek: Discovery had the best first season for a Star Trek sequel/prequel series, but the season finale, Will You Take My Hand, was somewhat of a disappointment. Some aspects of the episode did work, but it was an overly simple and unrealistic ending for a season-long arc. While many individual episodes of other Star Trek series have relied on similarly simplistic endings, I had hoped for more with Discovery. On the other hand, Star Trek does have  a history of disappointing conclusions of arcs, such as with the finale of Deep Space Nine.  I wonder if the loss of Bryan Fuller resulted in setting up the season long story line, but if he left before the ending was totally fleshed out.

Last week they set up the ruse that Georgiou was the Prime Georgiou, despite it being unrealistic that the crew of the Discovery would be fooled. This was immediately abandoned this episode when Mirror Georgiou did not act like a Federation officer. It was also unnecessary for the plan initiated in the finale for her to have tried to fool anyone.

While weakly plotted, the scenes on  Qo’noS had multiple treats for fans, including a fourth role for Clint Howard going back to The Corbonite Maneuver. There were Orions, and we learned more about the Klingon penis in a season which previously showed Klingon breasts. (If everything, including the penis, is duplicated in Klingons, shouldn’t they have four breasts?) By the time they revealed that the package was really a bomb and the plan was to destroy or cause major destruction to  Qo’noS, I assume that most viewers had already caught on.

While a rather simplistic conclusion for the Klingon war, this provide the opportunity for Burhnam to raise the issue of sticking to Star Fleet principles, and give her reason to mutiny for a second time. The parallels to the start of the season were obvious. Besides returning to the theme from the start of the season, this season was unique in both starting and ending without the main ship’s captain being present.

Burnham came up with a solution preferable to mutiny, but I don’t see how she sold Star Fleet on her plan and returned before Georgiou had time to set off the bomb. Although it was established that L’Rell’s main goal was Klingon unification, there was hardly good reason to be so certain that L’Rell wouldn’t have tried to accomplish this by leading the Klingons to victory after taking over. It is also questionable that Klingons would have believed she could blow up the planet and very likely would have decided to attack her first and think about matters later (if at all).

Even if L’Rell could get the Klingons in the room to give her the power, I also found it unrealistic that Klingon ships on the verge of attacking earth would have turned around. It would have been more realistic that the Klingons would have abandoned the war if, instead of being on the verge of victory, they were engaged in a space version of trench warfare from World War I with no victory in sight for either side. Having the Klingons be so dominant at this stage of the war also makes it less believable that the Federation seemed so dominant again by the time of the original show. Perhaps the resurgence of the Federation will be dealt with over the next few years on Discovery.

With the war over, there was time for a family reunion and an awards ceremony. Many questions already remained open. How will they deal with the spore drive, which now seems fully functional, but which needs to be forgotten within the next ten years? What is the meaning of the spore which landed on Tilly? Georgiou, L’Rell, and Tyler are all around in this universe, providing possibilities for a return. The Prime Lorca and perhaps the Mirror Burnham could also turn out to be alive.

After leaving the awards ceremony, the next question raised was the identity of the new captain. While the captain would be picked up on Vulcan, this may or may not mean that the person will be a Vulcan.

Then came the big surprise. The Discovery encountered another ship. The call letters began NCC17…

By then most fans probably knew what was coming next. They certainly could not tease this and then show the NCC1776, The USS Independence Day, or some other starship. It was NCC 1701, the original USS Enterprise, the flagship of Star Fleet, currently under the command of Captain Pike.

The episode then went into a new rendition of the original Star Trek end credits music, and we will have to wait until next season to see what happens with the Enterprise. This is the type of a cliff hanger I prefer for a series which will not return for months. Conclude the main story arc of the season, and then tease something from the upcoming season, as opposed to leaving the main arc unfinished.

For all but purists, the ship we saw did look like the Enterprise, regardless if there were slight changes. Matters will be more difficult if they show the interior, or the uniforms, considering how much Discovery has been updated. It would be an easy matter to recast Captain Pike, and most of the crew are unknown to us with one notable exception–Spock. While it would be amazing if Zachary Quinto were to play Spock, I doubt this is likely.

There are other difficulties. If Spock and Burnham interact, it would be a little more difficult to believe that Spock never mentioned his half-sister. There would be an even greater contradiction if Sarek and Spock see each other considering that, as established in Journey to Babel, the two were estranged for eighteen years. Of course it is possible that the two could avoid any contact with each other as they are estranged, or Spock could be elsewhere.

TVLine  discussed the episode with  Discovery executive producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts

TVLINE | Let’s start at the end, with the Enterprise reveal. What kind of storytelling avenues does that open up for you in Season 2?
AARON HARBERTS
 | I think one of the biggest things it’s going to allow us to do is start to develop how Discovery fits into canon. One of the big things that’s been polarizing for fans is, “We’ve never heard about Discovery! How does it fit? She’s related to Spock?” All those things. And what it’ll allow us to do is hit that straight-on. We see it as an exciting opportunity to say, “This is exactly how Discovery fits into the timeline. This is exactly how we can reconcile the choices we have made.” Because at this period in time, the Discovery and the Enterprise are the crown jewels in the fleet, so they should be face-to-face.

TVLINE | So does that mean Christopher Pike is a full-fledged character next season? Because we don’t know a lot about him, outside of “The Cage” and “The Menagerie.”
GRETCHEN J. BERG | Yeah, we can’t talk about specifics too much, but I think that because we are in canon, we look at things we know, and things we don’t know… and then there are the things we don’t know about the things we know! And there, often, you’ll find great opportunities for storytelling. But it is intriguing. It’s one of the fun things about playing within this box that is the timeline where we are.

HARBERTS | If there ever were to be a captain from canon that one could explore… Christopher Pike would certainly be that one.

TVLINE | So I guess you can’t tell us if we’ll see a ten-years-younger Spock next season, then?
BERG | [Laughs] No, we can’t!

HARBERTS | I can tell you: All you have to do is look at Michael Burnham and Sarek, and the look they exchange at the end of the show, and ask yourself what that could be about.

TVLINE | Maybe it’s safe to ask you about this: How great did it feel to lay down the old-school theme song over the closing credits?
HARBERTS | That was [executive producer] Akiva Goldsman’s idea. He is a huge Trek fan, and from the very beginning of his involvement in the show, he’s always been the guy who’s like, “And then the Discovery and the Enterprise will meet up!” And we’re like, “OK, Akiva, yes, yes…” [Laughs] It was his ultimate fanboy geekgasm… and it was a great idea. And then it was his idea to do the old theme at the end of the episode. I was at the scoring session, watching [composer] Jeff Russo lay that down. Tons of people were there, and you could have just heard a pin drop, and then there were smiles on everyone’s faces. It was very cool.

TVLINE | Oh, so that was totally re-recorded? That wasn’t just the original theme replayed?
HARBERTS
 | Oh yes, that was re-recorded. We had a vocalist come in. They had a bongo player in an isolation booth to play the bongo part. [Laughs] It was legit…

TVLINE | There’s always a chance she could run into Tyler and Georgiou again, right? It’s a big universe, but not that big.
HARBERTS | Oh yeah. One of our goals was: We wanted to create a universe, and play in that universe. And it’s only fun if you’ve got a cast of characters who can continue to come and go…

TVLINE | You did leave us hanging on who the next captain of the Discovery will be. What kind of personality type are you looking for to fill that spot?
BERG | Well, I don’t think we could bring back a Lorca [type] again, just because he was a captain perfect for wartime. I think the crew would be suspicious of that again. [Laughs] Discussing who’s next in that chair is a big topic in the writers’ room, and we certainly have landed somewhere… but I think we’d like you to stick around and watch and find out who it is, and why.

ET Online also interviewed them:

ET: Why did you want to introduce the USS Enterprise now on Star Trek: Discovery?

Gretchen J. Berg: From the beginning, it was something that we knew that folks who are fans of Star Trek know the Enterprise is out there and it was kind of the elephant in the room. We knew eventually that we would want to address that and deal with it. Even though it’s a giant, giant universe, it’s something that’s on everybody’s minds. So we were glad to be able to take the whole season to get to know our crew because the storytelling is going to be told from the point of view from Michael Burnham and Discovery. Let everybody get to know our characters and our show and what we were doing before we brought in the Enterprise. We knew it would be exciting and provocative, for sure.

Aaron Harberts: We also knew that we couldn’t hold off on this because there are so many questions about Burnham in regards to the notion of Sarek and Spock’s family, which is not to say that we’re introducing Spock at the moment. We don’t want to spoil anything. But it’s certainly time to get the audience understanding that we fully intend to respect the original series and respect where Discoveryfalls in that. To do that, we have to show the Enterprise and at least have these ships cross paths.

What is your intention with establishing the Enterprise in this way? What are you comfortable saying with regards to its place in season two?

Berg: Usually, we like to say sit back and enjoy the ride because it’s one of those things… You know, as a writer, you work on something and work on something, and you’re always like, but wait! We’re working on it and we’re going to show it to you and you’ll see. We’re certainly acknowledging that they exist in the same time. But always, always, always, the story on Discovery will be told from the point of view of Disco and our Disco crew. I think it’s fair to expect something, but we probably couldn’t go too much into detail about what it is.

Harberts: More than anything, it is about what new stories does this provide for our crew, for Michael Burnham, for Saru, for Tilly. Our main interest is Discovery. However, if the presence of the Enterprise can show us new things about our crew, the better.

It’s notable that it’s Captain Pike who sent the distress signal for the Enterprise. Is he a character we could meet in season two, along with Enterprise crew members?

Harberts: The thing to consider about Captain Pike is, from an audience and writer’s point of view, there is something very exciting about a key character from [Star Trek: The Original Series] who’s only been explored in two episodes of the original series — three if you consider how [the rejected pilot for the original series] “The Cage” works into the puzzle in TOS. When we think about the idea of Captain Pike, it opens up some large possibilities. We will never say never to exploring him a little bit more…

Are you suggesting that the nine-month period in Prime during which Michael and crew were stuck in Mirror Universe won’t be revisited?

Harberts: To be honest, Episode 14 [“The War Without, the War Within”] was all about what had happened. With the destruction that was wrought by the Klingons and the Federation during those nine months, we tried to paint the picture of that. I think what’s exciting about moving into season two is we’ve got a fresh new palette. We’ve put the war behind us and we’re excited to move on into some things that Trek fans have been longing for, which is more exploration, more diplomacy, more planets, more away missions. We’re focused on serving up some new stuff.

What does this mean for the future of Jason Isaacs, whose Mirror Lorca was killed but the whereabouts of Prime Lorca are still unclear, or Michelle Yeoh, whose Mirror Philippa is still roaming the galaxy?

Berg: If they’re out there, the possibilities are endless. Never say never. That’s the great thing about this universe: there are so many more different ways to go. I can’t confirm or deny anything, but…

Harberts: If we find Prime Lorca, I sort of want to find him making artisan sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco. That’s how that storyline could start and we’d just build from there. (Laughter.)

Because it seems the Mirror Universe isn’t a destination you’ll go back to anytime soon, what about Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber’s future? Wilson Cruz told us recently that their story isn’t over.

Berg: Wilson’s correct. We have just begun to tell the love story between Culber and Stamets, so I would just say hold tight.

Harberts: Stamets has got a lot to process that he hasn’t had time to process yet, in terms of not being in charge of the spore drive and having lost Culber. We’ve got to take Stamets on a journey as well and then we’ll see. But Culber is a character who is part of this Star Trek world, no doubt.

You’re already knee-deep on season two planning. What are you looking to achieve thematically and creatively?

Harberts: Chapter 1 of this novel was war, and right now, we’re thinking about Chapter 2. One of the themes we continue kicking around is the conflict between science and spirituality, and that’s something that we’re very interested, particularly after you finish a war. How do you rebuild yourself? What’s required for that? What we’re most excited to do is to continue thematic exploration and philosophical exploration and debate, and these characters are perfectly primed to carry storylines like that. That’s one thing that we’re thinking about. We have a few things up our sleeve, but we’d be lying if we knew everything, because that’s the fun of it is as well. You go into it, you see what’s working and you see what’s interesting, and you build from there.

Berg: The joy is in the journey for us as well in creating it.

This week’s episode of The Magicians was significant for introducing Poppy Kline, played by Felicia Day, but regular Summer Bishil (Margo) certainly held her own. Margo wound up in an undesired marriage to young Fomar, and turned to her version of sex ed to attempt to turn him off to the idea. While she pulled out a thick volume which contained female anatomy, her suggestion of the presence of teeth provided the title for the episode.

As usual, The Magicians did an excellent job of combining such amusement with advancing the plot. While Fumar was knocked out (later to be told he did great), Eliot and Margo found a massive field of the Fairy Queen’s mushrooms, which turned out to be fairy incubators to grow a fairy army. It will be interesting to see what happens now that Margo has taken hostages.

More also happened in this episode, including a look at depression with Felicia Day’s story. Inside The Magicians video below:

The CW Network rivals Syfy in the number of genre shows. They have announced that they will be expanding their programming to six nights a week, adding Sunday. This should increase the chance of their bubble shows returning and provides room for new shows. Next season this includes remakes of Charmed and Roswell.  Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy) has been cast a the lead for the Roswell reboot.

The highlight of the past week on CW was an appearance by Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow. It has been confirmed that Constantine will return later in March.

The biggest genre news of the week was the record smashing opening weekend of Black Panther.

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: CW’s Crisis On Earth-X; Agents of SHIELD; Doctor Who; The Orville; The Avengers Infinity War; American Gods; Stranger Things

Crisis on Earth-X was both the best of the CW cross-overs and was a lot more fun than the DC movie team-ups. They did an excellent job of using most of the characters over the entire four hours, and making a true four hour story as opposed to four related episodes of each CW series. The event ended with Legends of Tomorrow and did include more members of the team as only some had good reason to spend the entire time at the wedding of Barry Allen and Iris West, which started the story. Despite having good reason for the rest of the Legends to only appear in the fourth episode, some of the Legends were important throughout the four hours, especially with many scenes involving Stein and continuing the story line involving his separation from Firestorm.

While the crossover did continue plot lines from the individual shows, it was more notable for the combinations who do are not normally together. This included the hook up between Alex and Sara prior to the wedding, and later having Felicity and Iris team up. There were also plenty of pop culture and genre references, especially with The Man In The High Castle plot line. Comicbook.com has a list of Easter Eggs.

I was surprised that Crisis on Earth-X advanced some major plot threads in the various series, rather than leaving them for the individual shows. (Major spoilers ahead.) While we knew that the marriage of Iris an Barry would eventually occur, Felicity and Oliver turned it into a double wedding. The Stein’s story line not only progressed, but his previously-announced departure from the show (baring further appearances thanks to time travel) also occurred. Bleeding Cool has Victor Garber talking about his time on Legends of Tomorrow.

The event also may have started new story lines. There was the introduction of one new character,  The Ray, and the return of Leonard Snart , except as his good doppelganger, Citizen Cold. Presumably the mystery girl at the wedding was there for a reason–with some speculation as to her identity here.

Of course there were many plot holes and questionable elements. Rather than an infinite number of parallel earths, there are exactly fifty-three, which all have agreed-upon numbers. While people from other earths seem to have far more contact with each other than people from our earth, we are still designated Earth One. A major plot device involved preventing the destruction of the installation used to transport the heroes to Earth-X, but at other times it seems relatively easy to go from one earth to another (or send wedding invitations).

The major villains included doppelgangers of Oliver and Kara, but instead of a Barry’s doppelganger there was a version of Eobard Thawne. It is already quite convoluted to explain how he is around, thanks to time remnants, despite having been removed from existence at the end of season one when his ancestor killed himself. It is even harder to explain why the version seen was from when he appeared like Harrison Wells, other than to give more air time to Tom Cavanagh. Plus when did he learn how to do heart transplants?

Overall it was an enjoyable four hours which was never intended to be thought about very deeply, with the time passing much more quickly than most of the DC movies, which often feel like they are far more than four hours long. Plus, with my daughter’s wedding now less than six months away, it provided me with important warnings of things to be careful about–guests who fail to RSVP and, of course, the danger of a wedding being interrupted by Nazis from a parallel earth. I will be certain to take the proper precautions.

There is behind the scenes information available here.

Jed Whedon’s goal for Agents of SHIELD this year was to “throw them on the craziest roller coaster adventure we could think of.” While we knew since the last season that the season would take place in space, we did not learn the real twist until the season premiere on Friday (spoiler’s head). Not only are they in space, but they have been pulled into the future, and are on a space station with the last remnants of humanity, under Kree rule. Most of human history has been wiped out to help keep humans subservient, except a version of the Framework is still around.

The specifics are vague but the earth has been destroyed, supposedly by Daisy (who does not fall for future pick-up lines). The members of SHIELD were brought due to a legend that they will help save the remaining humans. As we don’t really know the rules of time travel in effect here, I wonder if the ultimate victory will be helping them get out from under Kree rule, or if the end-game will be to prevent this future from happening.

The cast discussed being in space here. Elizabeth Henstridgeand Iain De Caestecke discussed having Simmons and Fitz being separated yet once again here. Screen Rant has a list of Easter eggs.

The BBC has released a teaser poster for Twice Upon A Time, this year’s Christmas episode of Doctor Who, with a motion version here. The official synopsis:

The magical final chapter of the Twelfth Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) journey sees the Time Lord team up with his former self, the first ever Doctor (David Bradley – Harry Potter, Game of Thrones) and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), for one last adventure. Two Doctors stranded in an Arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. Enchanted glass people, stealing their victims from frozen time. And a World War One captain destined to die on the battlefield, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor’s story. An uplifting new tale about the power of hope in humanity’s darkest hours, Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era. But as the Doctor must face his past to decide his future, his journey is only just beginning…

Doctor Who will have both new cast and crew next season. The show will also have a different look. Radio Times reports:

If it’s not exciting enough to get the first female Time Lord on screen, then Doctor Who bosses have further surprises in store: a brand new cinematic look for Jodie Whittaker’s adventures.

The production is being supplied with brand new cameras and lenses which will add a touch of big screen dazzle to the look of the new series according to trade magazine Broadcast

Production house Films at 59, which supplies the BBC’s Doctor Who studios in Roath Lock in Cardiff, is using Cooke anamorphic Prime lenses and Angenieux Optimo anamorphic zooms that will be used with Arri Alexa XT and Alex Mini cameras for series 11.

The intention is to bring an increased cinematic look to the show which started production at the end of October.

According to Bristol-based Films at 59’s Dave Wride this means a whole new visual feel to the show.

“The BBC have made a monumental leap here to enhance the look of Doctor Who and I’m sure the fans will not be disappointed with the distinctly cinematic results that this lens and camera combo will afford them,” he said.

New Dimensions was another solid episode of The Orville. It also helped remedy one of the problems which was seen in a previous episode, Majority Rule. John LeMarr played a key role in that episode, which also served to make it apparent that we really did not know very much about him. We learned that there is much more to him in this episode.

There were the usual references to current and recent literature and pop culture, including Flatland, Doctor Who, Oscar the Grouch’s can, Snoopy’s doghouse, and Dumbo.

The episode also did a good job of mixing humor in the episode. This included yet more practical jokes, leading to Yaphit having to explore Bortus’ GI tract for a portion of himself: “Ah, dude, it stinks down here, what the hell have you been eating?  Is that a boot?”

While we have one more episode to go, I09 has already accumulated a list of the funniest and most surprising moments from The Orville so far. TV Guide has information on this Thursday’s season finale.

The official trailer for Avengers: Infinity Wars is now available, with the movie to be released May 4. Discussion here, here, and here.

The talks between Disney and Fox are back on. While I am concerned about yet further media consolidation, this does have interesting ramifications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Bad news for American Gods with show runners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green leaving. While there have been no specifics, most of the reports center around disputes with Starz regarding the budget for the show.

Surprising nobody, Netflix has officially renewed Stranger Things. (Last night I was out for a walk and saw holiday light effects outside of a neighbor’s house which made it look like it was in the Upside Down. Just to be safe, I didn’t get too close.)

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who (Twice Upon A Time, Jodie Whittaker, Matt Smith, and Shada); Star Trek Discovery (Captain Lorca, Ash Tyler, and Continuity); The Orville; The Arrowverse Crossover; Agents of SHIELD; The Magicians

The upcoming regeneration in the Christmas Episode of Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time,  might be the most anticipated episode ever due to Jodie Whittaker becoming the first female lead. Typically regeneration scenes only involve the outgoing Doctor with little, if any, of the new Doctor seen until the subsequent episodes are aired. With the degree of interest in this regeneration it would be a mistake to not show at least a little of Jodie Whittaker in the Christmas episode. It does appear that she probably does have at least one significant scene as Radio Times reports that Chris Chibnall will be present for her appearance in the episode. From Radio Times:

“There is a little bit of like ‘I want to see Jodie now!’” episode director Rachel Talalay admitted on the Radio Free Skaro podcast.

“What I do hope is, for Christmas you don’t have your Christmas pudding and your brandy, and say ‘OK, let’s just get to the regeneration!’ I hope you can actually enjoy the story too.”

Still, Talalay wasn’t shy about discussing some aspects of the pivotal final scene, which she shot both Capaldi and Whittaker’s parts for on different days under the direction of current showrunner Steven Moffat and new boss Chris Chibnall.

“I knew I was going to shoot both parts of the regeneration, but I did say to Chris Chibnall if you want a different director to introduce Jodie, you should have a different director,” she recalled. “Because he’s creating a whole new world.

“[But] he too was absolutely lovely and said no, we’re absolutely delighted it’s going to be you, and no-one else. And so we sat down and talked about the Jodie portion of the regeneration, and it was wonderful.

She added: “The thing I would love to talk about, and look forward to talking about in the future is how I planned Peter’s portion of the regeneration versus how I planned and shot Jodie’s.

“Because as a director, that was a really satisfying, interesting, fun challenge, and I’m really pleased with both sides of it.”

Of course, the side Talalay COULD talk about was Capaldi’s, with the director revealing that the Scottish actor had played a big part in the planning of his final scene.

“When it came to the regeneration in the Christmas episode, Peter has a big scene about it, as one would expect,” she said.

“And he and I spent some time alone on the Tardis, which is his place to sit when he wants to be quiet. We just sat there, in that space, alone, talking through that whole scene. Talking through in his happy space.

“He had a hundred notes on his script. Again, I view myself as a guide. But he was deeply into it.”

And apparently the collaboration paid off handsomely, with Talalay full of praise for the Twelfth Doctor’s last stand.

“It’s absolutely a Peter Tour-de-force as you can imagine,” she said. “I was so lucky to get to do it.”

In other words, then, it seems like we’re in for a simultaneously sad, exciting, nostalgic and forward-thinking episode of Doctor Who that contrasts with itself just as much as it does with anything else on the telly.

Radio Times has some speculation about the episode here. I posted a video from the episode last week in which the first Doctor commented on changes to the TARDIS.

The first pictures of  Jody Whittaker and Bradley Walsh filming next season have been released. More pictures are here.

Last week I mentioned rumors that Matt Smith might appear in the Christmas special (although it is also possible he just visited the set to see Doctor Who history and/or the final episode by Stephen Moffat). Smith has also discussed the possiblity of returning to Doctor Who, and has had some advice for Jodie Whittaker. From Digital Spy:

The Eleventh Doctor revealed that he wanted to come back to the franchise a few years down the line, once the new Time Lord Jodie Whittaker had settled in, that is

“Why not?” Matt told MTV. “I’d come back. Yeah, if the timing was right.

“I think we’ve gotta give a few years to Miss Whittaker to get the TARDIS under her belt, as it were, and then yeah – one day.”

However, he then dashed our hopes just a little by teasing that it probably won’t be until he’s “old and grey”, but joked that that “isn’t far off”.

When pressed on any advice he had for the Thirteenth Doctor when she heads into the TARDIS, Matt added: “Yeah, I will tell Jodie what I told Peter [Capaldi] – listen to no-one.”

The Crown star has also spoken about the next series of Doctor Who, arguing that the show should be “bold and inventive”.

“I think Doctor Who is a bit like Shakespeare,” he told press, including Digital Spy. “It needs expression and it needs courage and bold ideas – and I think Chris [Chibnall, new showrunner] and his team will bring all that to theshow, so I just sit back as a fan and watch what happens.

He added: “I absolutely don’t see why [the Doctor] can’t be a girl.”

It would make sense to have a two Doctor or multi-Doctor episode bringing him back but I wonder about this being “a few years down the line” considering that most actors playing the Doctor only stick around a few years at most. He better not wait too long.

Shada is now becoming available in various formats and a trailer (video above) has been released. Radio Times spoke with Tom Baker about returning to Doctor Who:

“I think it was, you see, that probably it never left me,” Baker said in a new interview to commemorate the BBC Worldwide release of the newly-completed Shada (which combines original footage with new animation).

“I think it was, you see, that probably it never left me,” Baker said in a new interview to commemorate the BBC Worldwide release of the newly-completed Shada (which combines original footage with new animation).

“And that’s why I can never stay away from it, you know – it was a lovely time of my life.

“I loved doing Doctor Who because it was life to me,” he went on. “It’s an amazing thing to be in something that was more important – my real life was really rather drab compared to the life of Doctor Who when we were making it.”

“Sometimes, when it would get near 5 o’ clock, I used to dread the end of rehearsal. Because then, real life would impinge on me.

“Doctor Who for me was an asylum. When I was in Doctor Who in full flight, making silly suggestions and pulling funny faces to make the other actors laugh, then I was happy.

“But then of course came five o’clock – and like everyone at five o’ clock, they’re leaving work – another reality impinges. Life – I wasn’t very good at that.”

In other words, then, Baker was more than happy to return to the world of Who – and he even has a theory as to why his particular Doctor has stood the test of time (and space) to remain popular to this day.

“Well I suppose actually because I was the silliest!” he suggested. “I was the most alien, I think.

“When I got it, I felt this benevolent alien personality, which was part of me. I embraced it and it took me over.”

Den of Geek spoke with “Star Trek‘s Ash Tyler and Captain Gabriel Lorca, aka Shazad Latif and Jason Isaacs, about their Discovery characters, shared trauma, fan theories and more.” Here are some excerpts:

There are a lot of purist fans out there, how have you reacted to some of the negative feedback?

SL: When we make it I’m enjoying what we’re doing and the rest we don’t have any power over. It’s like a painting, if people don’t like it then they don’t like it. We can’t really do much about that.

JI: I thought it was just a sign of how unbelievably passionate and protective they were of this legacy, and before we were on the air they were reacting to a trailer or something. Micro-analysing every frame of it. Now that we’re on, I’m a bit disappointed that the dissent has died down. I liked when people were outraged by things, and mostly everyone’s loving it all over the world now. I seek out those people who are upset because they’re always more passionate, first in line to watch it and first to hit the internet afterwards. They’re probably more die hard fans that anybody else.

Every new series that came along was hated instinctually by everybody and slowly they were won over. I think we’ve won them over. Quickly, which is a bit of a shame…

Shazad, you’ve probably been asked this by everyone today, but are you a Klingon?

JI: I can’t believe you’re not asking me – there’s a fan theory that I’m a Romulan!

SL: That’s not the same thing. There are crazy fan theories which is, like you were saying, the power of Star Trek fandom, they’re great detectives and some things they get right and some they get wrong.

JI: I love it. The madder they are the better – superb!

How do you feel about that way of watching TV now, where it’s kind of a detective game?

SL: I don’t know why you’d want to know so much before, I get that it’s because they love it.

JI: Well it’s a mystery that they’re trying to guess. The big thing for me, not the theories because one of the great things about this Star Trekparticularly in our dark and troubled times, our credits run and the debate starts. The worst thing you can be is something where the credits run and people say “What shall we eat?”. It actually affects people and they’re thinking about it. Although it’s on Netflix it’s not bingeable so there’s a week to talk about things like there is with Game Of Thrones. The thing that bothers me – networks have asked me to live tweet shows I’ve been in before, and I want people to watch the telly not look down at their phones or iPads. Watch it and talk about it afterwards.

Is one of the reasons you signed on because of how prevalent those issues that Star Trek has always been about are right now?

SL: It wasn’t really that I was interested, I didn’t really get to choose. I had to take the job (laughs). I’m not in that position yet. But yeah that’s the whole point of Star Trek.

JI: Yeah you take good acting jobs that are interesting and challenging, and something you haven’t done before. But I’ve got two teenage girls and if they’re looking at the news and reading newspapers, they’re being told – unlike when we were growing up – that people in charge are childish or racist or homophobic or sexual predators. The world seems a very unsafe place and more and more divisive. There’s the rise of the right and so to get to do the job that we love but also be part of telling a story that sends a message of optimism. It says that maybe in the future, if we get it right, we won’t be judged by gender or the colour of our skin or our sexuality. Even species on our show. There’s an extra bonus for us that you’re putting something good out in the world when we’re getting pumped some very toxic stuff from powerful people.

Many of the complaints from purists center around how Star Trek: Discovery fits into canon. Syfy Wire looked at some of the issues.

I’ll just comment on a couple of other aspects, and I’ve also raised some of these points in more detail in my weekly reviews of the episodes.

Many of the differences come down to the look, and to a considerable degree I’d give them some leeway to take advantage of modern special effects even if this gives a more modern look than the original series which takes ten years later. Questions regarding uniforms and details of the ships could be handled with explanations such as type of ships or perhaps different services within Star Fleet. Realistically if you look at the changes from the original show to the movies, which were produced years later with a higher budget, there were also considerable differences.

The Klingons have been a problem since Star Trek: The Next Generation. While I’m not going to allow this to reduce my enjoyment of Discovery, I think that it might have been better to have them look like the Klingons of STTNG. This allows viewers to go with one of two explanations–either the genetic manipulation theory that the Klingons actually did change temporarily, or the obvious meta explanation that they have used more expensive makeup since TNG.

The bigger issue is the technology, primarily with the spore drive. I’ve mentioned a variety of possible explanations in the past including reasons that it could no longer be feasible to be used by Star Fleet, no longer allowed, or perhaps that the technology is lost. I’m not particularly concerned about finding that Spock never mentioned his half-sister since Star Trek V also showed him to have a brother we never knew about. Spock was never the most talkative character.

Executive producer Aaron Harberts had these comments regarding continuity quoted by Metro:

‘We have ten years until the original series comes into play. It is a challenge creatively because we have lots of choices, in terms of how do we reconcile this [Spore] drive? This surrogate daughter of Sarek? How do we reconcile these things the closer we get to the original series? ‘That’s going to be a big discussion that we have in season two. What’s so fun about the character of Michael, just because she hasn’t been spoken about, doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. A lot of the writers on our show are deeply involved in Star Trek, their knowledge is some of the finest around, they really do help us find areas where we can steer around things.

‘But the Spore drive? Who knows. It could be classified. There are many options. Some of the best ideas come from all over the place, not just in our writers room so I love hearing about the fan ideas and theories. We’ll have to see.’ After initially creating the show’s concept, Bryan Fuller departed the series, and the question surrounding his decision to make it a prequel is still a mystery to Aaron, who was too busy catching up on Star Trek canon to question it. ‘I’m glad that it is because it set up parameters for us. Let’s say we set it 100 years after Voyager, the canvas is so broad. To try to contemplate, you’re creating a whole new mythology really,’ Aaron says.

‘I think Bryan [Fuller] was interested in the original series and I think he was interested in the lead up to where the original series is. I think he was very interested in the Klingon federation conflict, but I don’t know definitively why he picked that.’

While I agree that it should be possible to reconcile the continuity questions Aaron discussed, I find it interesting that, instead of already having a specific plan in mind, they are leaving the explanation for the writers to come up with next season. This also means that it is probably pointless to spend too much time analyzing episodes for hints as to the ultimate explanation as the show’s writers have not yet decided how things will turn out. Fortunately they do have writers with a good knowledge of Star Trek canon, leaving me confident that, even if the explanations are not one hundred percent airtight, they will be no worse than what we have already experience in following Star Trek continuity.

The Orville was off last week for Thanksgiving and will soon be completing its first season. The final episode of the shortened season will air December 7. Here is the official synopsis of the episode, entitled  Mad Idolatry:

Ed and Kelly seriously reconsider getting back together. However, while Kelley is on a mission with Isaac and Gordon to investigate the origins of an uncharted star, they suddenly crash-land on a planet from another universe. Kelly then makes a decision with unforeseen long-term consequences for the planet, putting Ed in a difficult position in the all-new “Mad Idolatry” season finale episode of THE ORVILLE airing Thursday, Dec. 7 (9:01-10:00 PM ET) on FOX. (ORV-113) (TV-14 L, S, V).

The relationship between Ed and Kelly has dominated many of the episodes. While I think it has often been overdone, it will be interesting to see how things have changed now that they have both been working together, and Ed realizes that Kelly might have slept with Darulio due to pheromones she could not resist per Cupid’s Dagger.

TV Guide has eleven teases for next week’s Arrowverse crossover. Here are the first few:

1. Earth-X is full of baddies

As if being controlled by nazis wasn’t enough of a clue about how evil Earth-X is, this world is also home to some very sinister versions of the heroes we know and love. So far, we know the Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh), the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) all have counterparts on Earth-X that are aligned with the regime.

2. Citizen Cold

Wentworth Miller has returned to the Arrow-verse, this time as the Earth-X version of himself: Citizen Cold. We can only assume he’s part of the Earth-X resistance movement, and it’s about time we got to see Miller kick some nazi butt.

3. Kara busts out those pipes again

You didn’t think the CW would just let Melissa Benoist’s amazing singing voice go to waste did you? Thanks to their little journey into musical theater last year, Barry decides to have Kara sing at his wedding, and we guarantee you’re not prepared for how awesome it is.

Stephen Amel discussed the Arrowverse crossover in an interview here.

Melissa Benoist discussed her role in an interview here.

Agents of SHIELD returns with a two-hour premier on December 1 but if you cannot wait that long, the first seventeen minutes have been released–video above. A trailer for season five can be seen here. We know from last season’s finale that the season involves going into space. Comicbook.com has some information on the aliens which will appear.

The Magicians returns on January 10. Trailer above showing them starting their quest to restore magic, after it was turned off in last season’s finale.

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: Orphan Black; Dark Matter; Stranger Things; Star Trek: Discovery; Legion; The Flash; The Magicians; Doctor Who; And Other News From Comic Con

There’s a lot of lat minute news from San Diego Comic Con which didn’t make it into my run down last week, but first there was a major event Saturday night. With only two episodes left after last night’s episode, Guillotines Decide, Orphan Black is rapidly moving towards a conclusion for its mythology, and is free to kill of characters. (Major spoilers ahead.) There have already been deaths, such as M.K. and Susan Duncan, but this really accelerated last might. First Gracie was shot by people from Neolution after trying to protect Helena. Last week I noted a change for the better with Rachel.  Ferdinand, however, came to save her but did not realize her change in priorities, and almost got killed when Rachel betrayed him as part of her plan to take down Neolution.

Ferdinand survived the first threat and appeared like he was going to strangle Rachel, who should have been better prepared for the possibility of him surviving. This led to a showdown with Mrs. S. in which each got off a fatal shot at the other (sort of like what happened to one of the major characters in this season’s finale of Fargo). It is commonplace on television for major characters to not really be dead despite appearances but Maria Doyle Kennedy did confirm that he character was dead in an interview with TV Line.

Despite the three deaths, the episode also managed to have the type of fun sequence which is often most enjoyable for the show–seeing the clones and major cast members living their lives and interacting Felix had his art show, introducing what looked like various versions of his sister to those unaware of them being a set of clones. At the end, however, Sarah did feel the disruption in the Force with the death of Mrs. S.

The best lines in the episode came when Donnie complained about Alison being too controlling. She responded, “I’m not going to micromanage you, Donnie.” This was quickly followed by, “Is that what you’re wearing?”

Entertainment Weekly discussed the episode with Graeme Manson:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How dare you go and depress all these people on a Saturday night. What’s wrong with you, for chrissakes?
GRAEME MANSON: Because if you track the story and you track the story of Sarah and Mrs. S, we’re telling a generational story now. Ultimately, we’re telling that story about Sarah’s journey, and to step into those big shoes of her mother is really the strongest journey that Sarah can make. So, there was a drop in the writer’s room. There was one of those moments of deep breath when the idea came up because it’s our final season. Someone has to go, and this made sense. And the first phone calls that we made were to Tatiana and to Maria to talk about this, and everybody had the same reaction — that gut reaction that this was the gut punch the series needed.

So why was this the time and place and way to do it and kill off Mrs. S?
We have two episodes left, and it was the most traumatic point that we could do this and complete the journey of the girl that we saw step onto the train tracks in the very first episode of Orphan Black. And it’s time to set the stage for the final two episodes now. We’ve got a two-parter coming up, and what is Sarah’s reaction going to be? Is she going to be the impulsive Sarah that we’ve known so much? Is she going to be beaten down? How are her sisters going to get through this together without the mother figure of this chosen family? We’re just tremendously excited to see this play out and see how our girls will take the hardest thing that we could throw at them…

Of course, Mrs. S not the only character who died. You also killed off Ferdinand and Gracie, who have been big characters on this show. Are you guys like, the end is near, let’s just start offing everybody now?
[Laughing] Well, it’s definitely ramping up, and it’s ramping up in real time with Helena’s pregnancy, so the crux of what’s coming is about new life, as well as the loss that we’ve just experienced. I just can’t wait for these final two episodes. It’s a great two-parter.

What if Ferdinand had taken Rachel up on her offer to go off the grid? Would they be sipping Mai Tais somewhere right now?
Yes. And so I think she would have left Kira. But that was the moment when Rachel chose to stand with her sisters, and it’s more than just the I. Rachel and Mrs. S had a moment where they connected, and Mrs. S had told her before — there will come a time when you need us. So Rachel’s journey over the last couple of episodes has been one of our favorites as well, certainly one of Tatiana’s favorite to play. Episode 7 was very deep, and in episode 8 we see the results. Rachel is stepping to our side, what’s going to happen now? Rachel and Sarah the old arch enemies. This is what the death of Mrs. S does. It throws everybody together…

And looking ahead a little bit to that, what can you say about Helena? We see her taken — I’m guessing being taken to the island now. What can you say as far as that?
End game. It’s coming from all ends. Now, the crux is all coming down to Helena’s babies. Rachel did the right thing and saved Kira, but now we’ve got Helena out there, and she’s about to have those valuable genetic children that everybody wants. So, the stage is set, my friend. Next week’s episode is really about getting back together, closing the circle with Rachel. Is Sarah going to murder Rachel? There’s a lot of stuff up in the air, and it all hinges on Sarah’s reaction to this event. So, it’s a great episode that ends in a huge, huge cliffhanger that’ll lead us into the finale.

Who would have predicted during the first season that the end game would be about rescuing Helena?

Also this weekend, Dark Matter continued to cycle through all the major genre troupes, this time with the time travel episode in which their actions led to the technology they depend upon. Plus they did the Stranger Things homage including kids, and there were video games.

Speaking of Stranger Things, ScreenRant report that it was revealed at Comic Con that the upcoming second season will help set up the eventual end point for the series, whenever that may be. More news on Stranger Things last week.

Last week we also learned that Michael Emerson will have a recurring role on Arrow next season. Spoiler TV reports that he will also have a recurring role on Mozart In The Jungle:

Emerson plays Morton Norton, an eccentric collector of classical music ephemera and curiosities who prefers the past to the present. He spends his days alone in a gothic mansion surrounded by classical music relics, dressed as a 16th century homicidal composer named Gesualdo (a composer he finds very underappreciated). When Rodrigo (Gael García Bernal) arrives, he will be pulled into Norton’s bizarre world, taking a tour of his collection.

The Star Trek: Discovery panel begins with the video above. TrekMovie.com has coverage including here, here, and here. Quotes include the producers considering both long time fans and a new audience:

We are very, very attentive of the divergence between audience bases. We know that there are folks like us – who know way too much – and folks who know little or none at all. So the barrier to entry has been reduced. We are trying to be welcoming to people who have never seen an episode of Trek, but also really delightful to those us who can’t stop seeing them. So that is our outcome goal. Star Trek is always about a world that is for everyone. Our show tries to be for everyone…

The fact that we are on a streaming channel allows us to tell the stories in a different way. These are serialized stories. They are not stand-alone stories. So there there is an emotional continuity and characters are learning as they go. They don’t forget what happened last week. And that is really exciting. So in the way you would watch any series for the characters and for that approach we get to do that here and that is really exciting…

With the increased tensions between the United States and Russia, I am happy to see that Discovery is getting away from the idea of the Federation vs. Klingon conflict being analogous to the United States vs. the Soviet Union:

We are also talking about not only war, but something that is really bubbling up in the United States right now, isolationism. Our country has so many different philosophies. Do we extend a hand? Do we shut it down? And that is also two viewpoints that are being expressed. The Klingons are not necessarily the Russians anymore. The Klingons – I think we will see far more in, frankly, people in the United States and different factions in the United States.

And that is not to say they are bad, but what we really wanted to do too is understand two differing points of view and really explore it. And I think when people look at the Klingons – I frankly love what they represent. Not in terms necessarily of all the messaging, but in terms of learning about them and learning why they are who they are and making sure they aren’t just the enemy.

And then finding a way to come together. How do we bring everyone back together? What do we do? What does it take? It is a big challenge for us, but that is what season one is all about.

The biggest news revealed was that Sonequa Martin-Green revealed that her character, First Officer Michael Burnham, is actually the adoptive daughter of Spock’s parents Sarek and Amanda. That explains earlier reports that Sarek will be included on the show, and leaves open the possibility of a younger Spock.

While they have taken liberties with the look of the Klingons and giving it a more modern look than The Original Show, they are considering canon. A video has also been released with producer Alex Kurtzman discussing the show and canon:

If you are a fan of Trek you are going to see a lot of things which hearken back to the original series and elements of the original series. I am not just talking plot, but the spirit of what that show was. We are going to be revisiting a couple of things on Star Trek: Discovery that I think people are going to find familiar. Without spoiling anything we are adhering to a timeline and sticking to the rules, but also I think finding some new areas and avenues that have only been alluded to, but never fully explored…

You have got a roomful of people with very different and very devoted relationships to Star Trek in that writers’ room. And that carries on a pretty proud tradition of Trek being written by fans.

You have to respect canon as it’s being written. You cannot say, “That never happened.” No, no no, you can’t do that, they would kill you. Star Trek fans would kill you. No, you have to respect canon. You have to understand the timelines and what the different timelines were and what the different universes were and how they all worked together. You have to keep very meticulous track of who, what, where, when and why. And we have people in the writer’s room whose sole job is to say, “Nope, can’t do that!”

We also learned more about Bryan Fuller leaving the show, and his initial plans to make Discovery an anthology show.

International Business Times summarized what was learned about season two of Legion at San Diego Comic Con:

Hawley already revealed that the second season will spread across 10 episodes. At the Comic-con, he revealed that he was not sure when the show will end but he confirms that it will come to an end when it has to.

“I have a structure, I have a kind of endpoint in my mind, but I don’t know yet how many episodes or seasons that is. I never want to overstay the welcome and I never want the show to become predictable. There will be an ending, that we know,” he told Comicbook.com.

Discussing the second season, David actor Dan Stevens told the website that the new season will most definitely explore David’s mind and things will become more complicated.

“We haven’t even really scratched the surface of the number of characters or entities that are contained within Legion. The Shadow King was obviously one of them and a large part. But there’s a lot more going on and anyone who knows the comics knows the scope of the world in which it set. So yeah, there’s a lot more to dig out of his head,” he told.

So will fans get to see Professor X aka Patrick Stewart in the upcoming episodes? According to Stevens, he surely will be a part of the show. Talking to ET Online, the actor revealed that the new season will talk about David’s dad. And according to Stevens, Stewart seems interested in reprising the role of Prof X in the show.

“He seemed very unaware of the show, but I mentioned that he was my dad, and he seemed pleasantly surprised. I think we want to address that,” he said.

“It’s normal when you learn you’re adopted to want to know who your real family is. He doesn’t yet know the identity, so I think it will be a process to get there. There’s quite a lot of explaining there, that your dad is Professor X,” Stevens added.

While the mystery about Professor X remains to be seen in the new season, Hawley did confirm that Wonder Woman star Saïd Taghmaoui will be donning the role of Shadow King. “Theres going to be a lot of things that are going to happen that I can’t tell you. But what I can tell you is that Saïd Taghmaoui, who was recently on Wonder Woman, will be playing Amahl Farouk a.k.a. the Shadow King,” Hawley confirmed.

Last week I had posted trailer and some news on the upcoming season of The Flash. Comic  Book has more on the changes in Barry Allen after spending time in the Speed Force from Grant Gustin:

“We’re not necessarily going to see Barry’s experience in the Speed Force. We’ll see kind of the effects that the Speed Force has had on Barry, and he’s been in there six months real-time,” Gustin started.

“I suspect the Speed Force is kind of nonlinear with time, so Barry has experienced his entire life from star to end infinity times over since he’s been in there.”

Continuing, the actor said, “He’s going to have kind of an awakening when he comes out. He’s going to have some knowledge that he probably doesn’t even quite understand yet. He’ll also be little scrambled; He won’t really be himself the first time we see him.”

Fans won’t be too surprised to hear about the Speed Force’s effect on the Flash; After all, Barry was well-aware during the season three finale that his sacrifice wasn’t going to be an easy one. Being stuck in the Speed Force is damaging, and The Flash went so far as to prove that by trapping Wally West there for a spell. When Barry exits the Speed Force, he will not be the same man he was before he stepped foot into it, and Gustin said that truth makes his job a bit more exciting next year.

“It’s almost like a fresh start for me as an actor,” the actor said, nodding to how different Barry will be in season four.

The Flash movie will deal with Flashpoint, and there has been speculation that this will provide a way to do a reset for Batman from the Ben Affleck version.

IO9 reports on next season of The Magicians:

The Magicians took the chance provided by Comic-Con to reveal the Muntjac, a magic, living ship that will play a huge part in season three of the Syfy show. In a press event that same day, executive producer John McNamara said, “It will kind of be our Fury Road season. No resources. What do you do?”

Season two ended with Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve) causing a bit of a problem for everyone. “Quentin and Julia kind of killed magic,” explained executive producer Sera Gamble. “It’s still called The Magicians, so we felt a certain responsibility to bring something cool and magical. It just comes from completely unexpected and different places in season three,” she continued.

Gamble also revealed a bit about where certain characters would be starting the season, with Quentin thinking about how much he would like to have magic back, while Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) is trying to figure out who she even is without it. There’s also the question of Julia, who was shown in the end of the season to still have at least a bit of magic. Gamble added that Margo’s (Summer Bishil) story was, and is, about how when you are in charge and have to make decisions, sometimes there is no perfect answer and people you love get hurt…

Interview with Olivia Taylor Dudley in the video above, discussing what happens with Alice now that she is human again. 

Jodie Whittaker already had a run in with the Daleks at the BAFTA awards ceremony in 2013. See the video above. Curiously the next Doctor showed that she recognized the Daleks, but they did not appear to recognize their most powerful enemy.

Steven Moffat certainly foreshadowed the upcoming regeneration into a woman, leaving open the question of whether he knew that it would be as soon as the December? Moffat revealed that he knew all along at Comic Con: “I’ve known for the entire series I’ve been working on that the next Doctor was going to be a woman. I didn’t know that it would be Jodie. I didn’t know that until the Friday before the announcement. I didn’t want to know until Peter knew. That was my rule.”

Den of Geek has several excerpts from Peter Capaldi’s comments in his last appearance at SDCC as the Doctor.’

While not at all genre, I can’t resist noting this additional bit of television news: Megyn Kelly’s show on NBC has been cancelled after just eight episodes due to poor ratings.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; The Americans; American Gods

I looked at the regular season finale of Doctor Who, The Doctor Falls, last week. The episode ended with Peter Capaldi fighting his inevitable regeneration. Peter Capaldi discussed why he is leaving the show with Radio Times:

Why make this your final series?

I love this show, but I’ve never done anything where you turn up every day for ten months. I want to always be giving it my best and I don’t think if I stayed on I’d be able to do that. I can’t think of another way to say, “This could be the end of civilisation as we know it.”

With episodic television of any genre, the audience wants the same thing all the time – but the instinct that leads the actor is not about being in a groove…

What’s the hardest part of being the Doctor?

Doctor Who is a hugely challenging show to write and to act in. It has to turn on a dime from comedy to terror to tragedy. It’s a children’s show that developed into something more complex, a bit more adult-orientated, but we have a duty to play to the seven-year-old as well as the 42-year-old. Sometimes you have to be more comic than you’d normally be comfortable with, but it’s important.

How would you describe your Doctor?

The Doctor is deeply sad – I think he always has been. When you’re wise and you’ve lived a very long time, that’s how you’d be. Although you have to be careful with very human emotions and the Doctor because he’s an alien. It’s more straightforward to play the human elements, but then it might as well be a cop show…

What can you say about your regeneration?

I can’t go into the details. I know what happens, but I don’t know how it happens. Certainly it’s not straightforward. It’s more complicated than recent ones. That’s one of the appeals of being in the show – it has death at the heart of it. He’s the only hero on TV who dies again and again.

The article also includes interviews with Michelle Gomez and Steven Moffat. From the interview with Steven Moffat:

How would you describe your Doctors?

He is someone who’s running towards everything at once because he might miss it. He doesn’t understand why anyone would do the same thing every day or sit in the same room every day. He doesn’t understand why you would live a life in safety when you could be running from fires and explosions. He doesn’t understand why we volunteer to be dull – he needs to be out there and experiencing everything at once.

Along the way, of course, he helps people and people start to think of him as this great hero, but he doesn’t understand that – he’s just running past people and seeing that they need help, so he helps. Actors either have it or they don’t. The first time I saw Matt Smith – only the second person to audition for the role – you could instantly tell that he was Doctor Who. There was nothing clever about saying, “Well, obviously it’s him.”

In another interview, Moffat discussed possibly leaving a cliffhanger for Chris Chibnall, and the problem with gender pronouns when dealing with Missy and the Master:

After talking about the — incestuous? masturbatory? — vibes between Missy and The Master, something previous Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies wanted more of when Moffat told him about his plans to bring back Simm, Moffat revealed that he thought about ending his tenure as showrunner with a cliffhanger that incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall would have to resolve.

“We concocted this whole scheme that I’d cliffhanger out of my era of Doctor Whoand hand over to Chris with Missy telling the Master and the Doctor that she’s pregnant,” Moffat revealed. “I decided not to do that. Over to you, Chibs. Sort that one out, mate.”

While Moffat admitted that the idea was just “email lunacy,” he also called for a societal change as a result of his experience talking about the character’s gender.

“We have to ban gender pronouns. I can no longer talk about the character of the Master ‘slash’ Missy without having to go ‘slash.’ It’s exhausting,” Moffat complained. “Let’s just rid of them. It’s a stupid idea in the first place. What do we need them for?”

We still have the Christmas episode to look forward to. The Doctor has sometimes seen previous companions at the time of his regeneration, and it has been reported that Jenna Coleman will be appearing in the episode. There is no information as to whether this will show what has happened since she went off to explore the universe, or if this will be a visit with Clara Oswald from earlier in her life, or perhaps just something in the Doctor’s head. Jenna Coleman currently stars on Victoria.

Of course leaving Doctor Who won’t be the end for Steven Moffat. In a recent radio interview, he left open the possibility of Sherlock returning for another season. Variety reports that Steven Moffat and Marc Gatiss are working on an adaptation of Dracula. Like Sherlock, it will consist of short seasons of feature length episodes. No word as to where and when this will be set.

Besides last week’s finale of Doctor Who, other shows have had season finales worth noting. I have recently discussed iZombie here, and The Leftovers and Fargo here. Due to traveling and other distractions, I have fallen behind on other finales and will catch up on a couple more today–The Americans and American Gods. In the near future I also hope to look back at the finales of additional shows including The Handmaid’s Tale, Gotham, Veep, and Better Call Saul. Plus there should be a lot more news on next season’s shows as we get into Comic Con.

The Americans has been one of the best dramas on television the last several years. Much of this season was to set up the final season next year, and the ending this year felt somewhat like a tease. It looked like Philip and Elizabeth might return home, but obviously that could not happen until the end of next season, if it ever does happen. Instead they were given a reason to remain at the last minute. Stan also suggested he might leave his position at the FBI, but Renee quickly argued that he should not. That is also a tease for the viewers who have been wondering (along with Elizabeth and Philip) if Renee is a Russian spy who wanted Stan to remain where he is for her own reasons. Of course Stan had no such thoughts. TV Line interviewed the producers and asked about this scene:

TVLINE | In the finale, we also saw Renee try to talk Stan into staying with the FBI. Is he starting to get suspicious of her? And will Laurie Holden be back next season?
WEISBERG | [Laughs] No comment on the latter. Nice try! But on the former, we don’t particularly think so. Stan would have no more reason to be suspicious of the woman he’s dating than he does the neighbors across the street.

Deadline also discussed the finale with Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields. Topics included where the show will be going in the final season, whether it will lead into the collapse of the Soviet Union, and whether Donald Trump will appear. Here are some excepts:

DEADLINE: So, after all that anticipation this season, a big CIA catch means Philip and Elizabeth are not heading home to the Soviet Union. So what’s next?

WEISBERG: Still not going home. They still can’t get home. It was so close though, so close. They’re not only not going home, but it sure sounds like Philip is quitting his job — at least his spy job. It sounds like he’s going to work at the travel agency full time.

DEADLINE: Well, I doubt you mean that, but it did seem like you had Keri’s character looking for a reason not to return home, which, of course, is a real turn for her from her contempt for the West that has fueled much of the series.

WEISBERG: We think that she was being sincere in what she told Philip about why she couldn’t go back. Whether she was dying to go back, having second thoughts about going back, whatever it was, it felt to us like that was classical Elizabeth Jennings that when duty calls she had to answer the call. It was certain she couldn’t go home when she and Philip now have their hooks in the new head of the Soviet division at the CIA.

DEADLINE: Which brings us to the sixth and final season for next year. With history catching up to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, will we see Season 6 pick up from the Season 5 events of 1984 or move ahead in time toward a real resolution?

FIELDS: Dominic, you know we don’t like to give away really anything, but probably one thing we’re willing to say is that there’s going to be a resolution. Sometimes people will ask about The Americans. Is it moving slowly? Is anything happening? I think we are all willing to give away that there is something that most people who speak the English language would be willing to call a real ending…

DEADLINE: For a show so authentically drenched in the 1980s, there is one real-life character I’ve always been sure we would see one day on The Americans, a certain Art Of The Deal author who really became known back in the Reagan Era. So why hasn’t Donald Trump appeared on The Americans, even in the background or as an aside?

FIELDS: You know, it’s a funny thing. Had Donald Trump not become such a prominent part of our lives today, he certainly could have appeared in the background of the show (both laugh). Joking aside, that’s exactly the sort of reference we feel we could never make in the show, because it would have a self-conscious link. We feel would take the audience out of the experience of being immersed in the show and yank them back into today, and really isn’t the whole point of watching TV today to not have to think about today?

DEADLINE: So, going into Season 6, we’ll never see Donald Trump on The Americans?

FIELDS: I think as much as we try to prevent spoilers I am confident in saying we won’t. Joe, are you OK with that spoiler?

WEISBERG: I think we can say he’s not going to be in the show. Although, if you print that, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a call from him asking to be in the show.

The Hollywood Reporter looked at the final minutes of the finale of American Gods and how they are likely to lead into the second season:

While Wednesday’s true identity is certainly an important revelation for the series, it’s not the stopping point most fans of the Gaiman novel would have expected for the season. Instead, those fans were likely expecting to see Wednesday, Shadow and some of the other deities — including Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy and Peter Stormare as Czernobog — arriving at the The House on the Rock, the site of what’s easily the single most iconic moment from the source material.

Based on the real-life Wisconsin tourist attraction of the same name, the House on the Rock is an architectural anomaly designed by Alex Jordan Jr. and originally opened in 1959. For those unfamiliar, the YouTube channel Atlas Obscura has an excellent breakdown of the “mind-tripping brain warp” nature of this extremely unusual location, which you can watch below.

In the fifth chapter of Gaiman’s book, Wednesday takes Shadow to the House on the Rock, and he explains it as “a place of power,” due to its nature as a roadside attraction. He says: “In other countries, over the years, people recognized the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples, or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or…well, you get the idea.”

…Shadow finally speaks Odin’s true name, and once he does, the whisper becomes louder and louder until it’s an undeniable echo, bellowing within a great hall in which Wednesday conducts his meeting with the other gods. From this point forward, Shadow knows that the oddities he’s experienced during his travels with Wednesday are more real than he could have ever imagined.

It’s a massive turning point in Gaiman’s novel, and given that the climactic scene occurs little more than 100 pages into the book, many fans expected to see the House on the Rock sequence in the season one finale. Instead, what they saw was Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) driving on a bus past a sign for the House on the Rock in the final scene of the season — a promise that the sequence is very much still ahead, albeit a bit further down the line than expected.

While the House on the Rock’s veritable absence from the finale is certainly disappointing for the book-reading faithful, it wasn’t without some warning. Fuller told THR before the season’s launch that due to some episode restructuring, budget that would have gone toward the House on the Rock sequence was instead repurposed to streamline the show’s narrative. What’s more, given that the first season of American Gods didn’t quite crack the first 100 pages of the book (with a total count of 541 pages in the updated and expanded 10th anniversary edition, including forewords and afterwards), fans can rest assured that the show will adapt almost every granular detail of the novel — eventually, anyway.

Deadline interviewed Michael Green and Bryan Fuller about the finale. Here are some excerpts, beginning with a question about House on the Rock:

DEADLINE: Where does the end of this season leave us, going into Season 2 and going into the rest of Neil’s book?

GREEN: Precariously. We always knew we wanted to end the season with our weight tilted towards House on the Rock. We talked a lot, early on about wanting to get there and even starting that story, then advancing the narrative that far. But we enjoyed our time with our characters so much and were doing so many things that took so much time and resources that we realized that we had a very interesting and satisfying ending with Wednesday taking his first real aggressive stance against the new gods. With him saying, ‘You were very, very unwise to count me out and to speak in those tones to me.’ So Wednesday has the upper hand in two ways, he is taking a shot across the bow that’s going to hurt the new gods and he has a believer in Shadow Moon. Those are two things that are not without significance.

DEADLINE: With where we are in terms of Neil’s book, will that play a big part in the consequences of Season 2?

FULLER: I think the bigger interpersonal dramas that are waiting for us in Season two that excites us greatly is the notion of Laura Moon versus Mr. Wednesday. We see, by the end of the season, that Laura understands that Wednesday had her assassinated, specifically, to put Shadow in this situation. We always talked about Laura becoming that metaphor for the last Catholic who can, you know, shake her fist at the sky, and say, “Fuck you, God.” But now she actually gets to say it to a real god and she’s a god that she can get her hands on so what is she going to do next?

DEADLINE: You strode into some sprawling themes in Season 1–faith, obviously, but also immigration, gun violence, race, sexism. From the reaction online and elsewhere, it felt like the audience was very receptive to those conversations and those discussions. Did that surprise you?

GREEN: I feel like the people who wouldn’t be receptive to those conversations aren’t watching the show…

DEADLINE: Speaking of anger, one of the new characters invented for the series was Corbin Bernsen’s god Vulcan. He appeared to meet a fiery end but are we going to see more newly created characters for Season 2?

FULLER: Yes but you know, there’s lots of new characters to come into this world that were part of this story in the book as well as some that weren’t that we want to include. We’re excited about Mama-Ji and we’re excited about Sam Black Crow. There were a lot of characters that we want to start weaving into the mythology of the television series, and we’re really excited about seeing characters from the first season, again, that you may not expect to see again.

DEADLINE: Obviously, a character we fully expect to see more of is Shadow Moon. Over Season 1, we’ve seen him go from a very closed, almost one-dimensional character, who is trying to find his way to someone or something, who now at the finale, has literally and figuratively seen the world open up in front of him and maybe some sense of who he really is becoming close to home now. How is that arc moving forward in Season 2?

FULLER: Well, it has to move forward in a proactive way for his character. So much of what we had in the first season was Shadow as passenger to the narrative He was in a situation where he had everything removed from him, so he didn’t know what he wanted as a character. He just knew that he had to fill his days. Now that he understands a little bit more about the world and the world of gods, we get to witness him as an apostle of sorts – and see what kind of apostle he could be.

The Wrap has more with Bryan Fuller. The Los Angeles Times has an interview with Neil Gaiman.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Knock Knock; American Gods; Sense8; The Flash; Ranking The Rolling Stones Songs

Knock Knock had some good moments but did not really work. Possibly the problem was timing. It attempted to be a plot-driven episode of Doctor Who and depended less on the interplay between the Doctor and Bill, but in doing so partially lost the strongest aspect of the season so far, while still having a plot which was rushed to the point of making little sense.

The story jumped too quickly from students looking for an affordable place to live to the first death. While the general premise of housing being too expensive was realistic, why did Bill suddenly need to find somewhere new to live, and why with these six people she barely knew? I’m sure students don’t read their housing contracts that closely, but I wonder if even a cursory reading might have tipped them off to what they were agreeing to. It is less plausible that not a single student would have looked into cell or internet access before quickly moving in. While I did like how they went from one student joking around to really being killed, it all felt too rushed. The student who hit on Bill this quickly was also acting in too much of a rushed manner.

There were some good scenes, but overall the threat from the bugs and the wood made little sense. Why did they keep Eliza alive, eat some students, and incorporate others into the woodwork? Things just happened without any real answers, or anyone figuring out much. While they did figure out that the Landlord must Eliza’s son and not father, this was not all that tremendous, and had little bearing on the outcome. Suddenly Eliza intervened to help, was able to control the bugs, and opened the shutters in time for the fire works. I was waiting to hear When You Wish Upon A Star as if it was the Magic Kingdom. Everyone turned out to be alive, but why did the insects release them? Presumably those eaten in previous years were too far gone, but it might have been an amusing scene to have groups of students from the past suddenly appear if they were going to show any victims come back to life.

Perhaps more time on the plot could have solved some of these problems, but that would have taken away even more time from Bill and the Doctor. The Doctor did mention regeneration, foreshadowing what we know will come later this season. He also mentioned the Time Lords. It was amusing to see the Doctor use the TARDIS to help Bill move in, but I don’t understand why Bill seemed to be embarrassed to let the others know about her relationship with the Doctor. She did claim he was her Grandfather. Is this somehow related to the pictures of Susan on the Doctor’s desk?

I’m surprised that they did not bring up the inability of the sonic screwdriver to work on wood, or make more use of its sonic abilities considering the importance of sound in controlling the bugs. Of course I don’t blame the Doctor for not being clear as to how that worked as I’m not too clear on it either after watching the episode.

At least the show sort of gets the history right, including Harriet Jones among the Prime Ministers of Great Britain.

This season we have seen a reflection and failing to smile become things to fear, and I wonder if the intent was to do the same with knocking, considering the title. If so, it didn’t work. Of course the classic example of Doctor Who creating fear is Blink, and this episode was filmed on the same property, but in a different house, as where Blink was filmed.

The episode concluded with the Doctor going inside to visit the person in the vault. The interaction we did hear has strengthened suspicion that it is The Master (very likely as Missy) inside. For that matter, is the vault the Master’s TARDIS and how big will it be on the inside?

In other Doctor Who universe news, there is a new design for K-9. There will also be a series five of Torchwood, taking place after Miracle Day, but it will be released as an audio series.

American Gods premiered last week. I wonder if this is the right format. The show is apparently very faithful to the book, while expanding on situations and characters. One review said that the entire first season covers only the first one hundred pages of the book. The show is basically set up for at least the first four episodes, making me wonder if television viewers who aren’t familiar with the book will understand what is going on and stick it out. This could be a situation in which it might not be best to be so faithful to the book. Otherwise it might be better to release this Netflix style and have it available all at once, so people can go through it more like reading a book, as opposed to watching the first episode, being confused, and possibly not returning. At very least it might have been better to release the first few episodes at once, as Hulu did with The Handmaid’s Tale.

Whether or not they understand what is going on, fans of  Bryan Fuller’s work will feel right at home with the visual. The lynching scene at the end felt like something right out of Hannibal. Fuller discussed the scene with TV Guide.

Neil Gaiman explained what the book and series is all about in an interview with Recode:

Many of you who are listening to this know what “American Gods” is because it’s a very popular book. Some of you have not read the book, so Neil, tell us what the book and the show are about.

The book — which was written in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and published in June 2001 — and the show, which is coming up, are both about America. They’re both about a man named Shadow, who is in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit and has been looking forward to getting out and getting back together with his wife, Laura, who he loves very, very much. In a one-two sucker punch, he learns that he’s being let out a few days early, and he is being let out a few days early because his wife was killed in a car crash. He’s on his way back to his wife’s funeral when he meets a peculiar old grifter on a plane, who offers him a job.

The job, which he winds up taking, throws Shadow into the middle of a battle, an oncoming battle, between all of the old gods, all of the things that people who have come to America over the years have brought with them and abandoned, whether it’s leprechauns, or the Golem, or things that people have believed in, come to America, as all of the people who are in America are the descendants of people who came here, or are people who came here, and also the new gods. The new gods are the things that demand our attention, that we give our time and our love and our attention to, whether it be the gods of podcast, or of those small glass and metal and plastic objects that we all stare at in rapt devotion…

This is a book you started writing in the late ’90s. You started making the TV show a couple of years ago, it comes out now, and it is about immigration, in large part?

Yeah.

Race is forefront. There is a lynching scene at the end of the first episode. The beginning of the second episode, it starts off on a slave ship, so obviously there is some timely stuff going on here. Do you figure that would’ve been timely no matter what?

The weird thing for me is that when I wrote the book, I did not see any of this stuff as controversial. When I wrote the book, I thought, okay, this is an immigrant country. Some of the people came here, their ancestors came here 20,000 years ago from Siberia, crossing the Bering Straights and stuff. Some people came here 400 years ago, and some people wanted to come here, and some people were sent as prisoners, sent as slaves …

Right, there’s no question mark at the end of it, it’s a full stop.

That one’s a full stop. This is an immigrant country, and furthermore, I don’t think it’s contentious or controversial to be pro Statue of Liberty, and the poem thereon. You’re going, “I think that is part of the American psyche, the American dream,” nor did it think it was, in any way, controversial or laudable to go, “I am writing a novel about immigration in America, therefore I am going to have a lot of people in my book of different races because there are a lot of different races in America. I will make a mixed-race hero, A) for plot reasons and B) because he embodies America.” That all seemed to me to be very …

Table stakes.

Yeah. It’s not controversial, and I don’t think we thought it was controversial when we were writing the scripts, and I don’t think anybody thought it was really controversial when we were shooting it.

Cut to 2017.

Suddenly, I’m describing the show … There was a point where I was describing the show to … I was on the Empire Film Awards red carpet and somebody put a microphone in my face, and I told them a little bit about the show, and I said, “You know, things have changed. We did not think this stuff was controversial, but now we seem to be occupying political territory. We’re willing to take that, but we didn’t choose it to be.” The headline, when it was published was, “Neil Gaiman, author of ‘American Gods,’ slams Donald Trump.”

I thought, “I didn’t slam Donald Trump.” If I wanted to slam Donald Trump and talk about what a peculiar, narcissistic, ineffectual joke he is, I could’ve done, but I didn’t. I don’t even think I mentioned the poor man’s name.

Empire On Line discussed the making of the show with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green:

So, what’s the story here? Do you guys go out of your way to just get weird with this stuff? Bryan, you did Hannibal, obviously, and that had its own surreal quality to it. It almost seems like you sit there saying, “How can we fuck with the audience’s mind?”

Fuller: No, not really [laughs]. I think our imaginations are fairly vivid and when we’re reading something that is as inspiring as Neil’s novel, it’s hard not to grab the baton and run. If anything, we’ve checked each other a couple of times where it’s, like, “Uh, that may be too big and too weird,” and for us to say that to each other, you know it’s big and weird.

Is this just the way your minds work?

Green: It’s more where we live and we have the opportunity to do it, but it’s also why we were drawn to Neil’s writing and specifically this book is that it allowed us to bring imagination to life, even if it was going to be lavish, difficult, expensive.

Michael, is that something that you’re naturally drawn to, that type of storytelling?

Green: Bryan and I share a lot of taste and style, but I will say as a fan of Hannibal and of Bryan’s in the intervening years when we weren’t working together, I would often get together with him and just ask him, “How do you accomplish these things?” Bryan as a producer has an incredible and enviable track record of taking the ideas in his mind and being able to share them with other people by actualizing them. That is as good a definition of producing as I can muster, where it’s one thing as a writer to take an idea in your head and get it on the page clearly so other people can experience that idea. It’s another thing to be able to do that with visual images.

There were images on the show, sequences on the show, that Bryan described to me when we were in the writing phases and I could imagine very vividly, but the process of being able to actually put that on the screen takes an incredible amount of work, dedication, clarity of purpose. Every idea can continue to get better as more time goes on. I’ve been very much enjoying working with Bryan and learning how he manages to extract from his own mind the best idea and extract from the talented artists we work with the visual representation of those ideas.

Fuller: One of the things that we’ve learned on the show is we needed a long runway, because a lot of these ideas that we’re working on required a certain amount of experimentation to get right, and there were alleys that we went down regarding some visual effects. When we got to the end, we’re, like, “This doesn’t work. We need to back up and try something else, because it’s not holding up to the standards that we have.” Or it was an ambitious idea that we thought we could pull off, but we couldn’t quite, so we had to do something that we could achieve. A lot of our conversations with the visual effects team are about, “What can we pull off? What’s too big for us to achieve in our time and budget?”

The interview went on to discuss several of the characters.

Netflix released season two of Sense8. (Technically the Christmas episode was the first episode of the season). I have a few episodes to go, which might affect my opinion, and I don’t want to say very much to avoid spoilers as this has only been available for a couple of days. Now that the first season established the back story, the plot so far does seem more coherent than in the first season, but that doesn’t matter all that much. I’d enjoy the show even if there was no real plot and we were just seeing that world for several hours. My suspicion is that the Wachowskis come up with great scenes and then J. Michael Straczynski figures out how they can be fit together into a fairly coherent plot. (Maybe the Wachowskis should have brought someone like JMS in to give a better storyline for the Matrix sequels). Like with American Gods and Hannibal, the imagery is important–with a totally different type of imagery here.

Again, avoiding spoilers, the conspiracy element reminds me a bit of Orphan Black. There is the return of Mr. Whispers, and the BPO (Biologic Preservation Organization), with more layers than in the first season, similar to how the conspiracy expanded on Orphan Black. There is more of a biological background given, and there are other clusters. While new characters are introduced, the story does continue to concentrate on the cluster seen in the first season, with their individual stories, both alone and when connected with others, continuing to be the strength of the show.

In other entertainment news, it was announced that both The Handmaid’s Tale and 13 Reasons Why have both been renewed for a second season.

Comicbook.com explains how the reveal of Savatar’s identity on last week’s episode of The Flash plays into the 2056 warning from the Flash previously played on Legends of Tomorrow. They are going to have to do a lot more to convince me that it is plausible to have a future Barry come back in time and kill Iris.

In a really ambitious project, Vulture ranked all 373 songs by the Rolling Stones. Number one is You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Lawyers, Guns & Money wants to argue over it. Vulture did point out some areas of potential controversy beyond the ranking of the songs:

The Rolling Stones have multiple songs that are lyrically reprehensible to women and people of color — often both at the same time. If I were questioned about this topic at the Pearly Gates, I’d suggest that the Stones’ offensive attitudes had more to do with a craven desire to be provocative than any fundamental malignant worldview, but maybe I’m a fool. Whatever the true motivation behind them, a handful of the band’s songs have been tarred by Jagger and Richards’s sex and race insensitivity. There’s no getting around it. Then there’s the matter of appropriation. Excepting perhaps Elvis, there is no rock act that benefited more from drawing on black music than the Rolling Stones, who have repeatedly talked with respect and deference about how much they’ve taken from their musical idols. I do think that once the band took flight, its music represents a synthesis of their influences, rather than mere mimicry or theft. That said, I don’t know what you do with all these issues other than acknowledge that they’re a problem.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Thin Ice; The Handmaid’s Tale; Catastrophe; American Gods

Thin Ice had the most complete story so far this season, but the highlight of the episode remained the relationship between Bill and The Doctor. The episode dealt serious matters including racism and class, but it was the meta discussion of time travel and the Doctor which was most interesting.

The Doctor and Bill continued in their rules of tutor and pupil with Bill asking questions throughout the episode, also providing an opportunity to give some comments on the show in Moffat’s final season. This was Bill’s first real trip into the past and, being well-aware of science fiction tropes, Bill asked what the “rules” are. “You travel into the past. There’s got to be rules. If I step on a butterfly it could send ripples through time that mean I’m not even born in the first place and I could just disappear.” Her concern was that, “Every choice I make in this moment here and now could change the whole future.” The Doctor replied with justification for the often careless manner in which he interacts with the past in pointing out that this is, “Exactly like every other day of your life. The only thing to do is to stop worrying about it.”

Except for poor Pete, written out of history, and even deleted from the memories of viewers and from recordings of the last two episodes. We haven’t seen anything like this since Cold Blood in which Rory was sucked into a crack in the universe and erased from history. Perhaps Pete will return, possibly as another Auton duplicate, as Rory later did.

There was also repetition of the Doctor being a bit of a thief, along with his his limited control over the TARDIS: “I told you, you don’t steer the TARDIS. You reason with it… and successfully most of the time… She’s a bad girl this one. Always looking for trouble.”

Bill had more serious questions and observations. She noted that “Regency England, a bit more black than they show in the movies.” The Doctor replied, “So was Jesus. History’s a whitewash.”

She realized that there was a lot more to the Doctor than a university professor after seeing his lack of a response to the death of a child. She asked him how many people he has seen die, and then how many he has killed. He had no specific answers. He did say, “I’m 2,000-years-old and I’ve never had the time for the luxury of outrage.” I wondered how long it would be until Bill saw through that lie, and it occurred later in the same episode.

The Doctor had fun with Bill beyond his reference to Pete. He allowed her to watch the lights because she was having fun, and then mentioned seeing lights as a side effect of time travel. Later he told her to let him do the talking because she has a temper. Moments later he slugged  Lord Sutcliffe (also showing his capacity for outrage).

Of course the Doctor wasn’t entirely cold about the death of the boy. He just has seen enough to know when he can and cannot do something. His overall view was more humane: “Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life, a life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age. That’s what defines a species.”

The episode took place in the Frost Fair of 1814, the last in a series of actual events when the the River Thames froze over. Being 2000 years old (or actually older if the events of past seasons are taken into consideration), and prone to hanging out on earth, it is no surprise that the Doctor was there before. A Good Man Goes to War reveals that he was there with River Song, with Stevie Wonder performing:

River: It’s my birthday. The Doctor took me ice skating on the River Thames in 1814, the last of the great Frost Fairs. He got Stevie Wonder to sing for me under London Bridge.
Rory: Stevie Wonder sang in 1814?
River: Yes, he did, but you must never tell him.

(As a totally irrelevant aside, Stevie Wonder was once dining at the same restaurant I was at while traveling to Washington, D.C.)

There was an old Companion Chronicle audio story in which the first Doctor, Vicki and Steven visited the Frost Fair of 1814. The Doctor also promised to take Clara to the Frost Fair in The Caretaker (and actually did in a novel) The Doctor’s lack of interest in rules of time travel in his discussion with Bill is consistent with his lack of concern for returning to the same place–which would be forbidden in other time travel stories. This includes the breaking of time in the Legends of Tomorrow season two finale.

Bill did verify that her trip did not brake time, and Doctor Who has already established that humans have an incredible tendency to forget the extraordinary events depicted on the show. Bill used Search-wise.net for her research–a site which actually exists for television purposes.

The Doctor and Bill returned to the Doctor’s office in time for tea, but Nardole figured out that they had been traveling in time when he saw their change of clothing. He did not appear to figure out out that he had no chance to win the coin toss. For the sake of continuity, he did make reference to how he was reassembled between The Husbands Of River Song when he was decapitated and The Return Of Doctor Mysterio. He returned to the vault where we learned that someone or something inside was knocking, perhaps the Master, except that he knocks four times. Knocking also foreshadowed a past regeneration.

The Handmaid’s Tale premiered on Hulu, with the first three episodes being released. The show displayed a very bleak future in which Christian fundamentalists have established a dictatorship. This would be more plausible in a Muslim country, especially considering recent events in Turkey. It seems more plausible here, and  especially timely, after the election of Donald Trump, with the lack of respect for reproductive right’s and a woman’s right to control her own body taken to even more horrifying extremes. (To be objective and nonpartisan, Democrats cannot totally place the blame on Donald Trump and Republicans for rightward movement in this country considering their lack of concern in nominating a candidate such as Hillary Clinton who has a terrible history on First Amendment issues, including separation of church and state. While obviously Clinton would never support the mistreatment of women in this manner, her work with The Fellowship while in the Senate did help facilitate the goals of the religious right in increasing the role of religion in public policy.)

Elisabeth Moss does an excellent job as Offred (presumably given this name as she belongs to Fred), who is forced to conform outwardly. The totalitarian society shows how those without power being under constant surveillance, appearing to have no chance to rebel, or even safely be themselves with others. Inwardly it is a different story: “My name is Offred, and I intend to survive.” Her internal thoughts provide necessary relief from the overall story. There are also breaks from the main narrative to see how America went in that direction. Martial law was initiated, supposedly on a temporary nature in response to a terrorist attack, and later women were prohibited from having money or holding jobs.

The supporting cast also does an excellent job, especially Alexis Bledel (renamed Ofglen, following the same pattern), who managed to portray with her eyes alone the horrors of what she was exposed to in the third episode. Yvonne Strahovski is also excellent. 

Showrunner Bruce Miller discussed changes in the television show from the novel, including what happened to Ofglen (with spoilers for the third episode):

You take the character of Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) in a different direction very early on in the series. Can you talk about the decision to have Ofglen forcibly undergo genital mutilation surgery and how that changes things for her character moving forward?
Miller:
In the book, Ofglen just disappears and we hear that she killed herself. There’s no real way to confirm that. This was just one of those cases where you just follow your curiosity and you say, well, what happened to her? And I was fascinated by the idea, personally, of seeing how some of the institutions were being reproduced in Gilead. And the institution of the criminal justice system seemed fascinating in a world with institutionalized sexism and misogyny and biblical laws that were being taken literally. So that kind of lead us down a path of, OK, if I want to see how all of those things go, it would be very interesting to follow those things to the end. And making the decision about the female genital mutilation was really just kind of a practical discussion. A world that happened by accident is different than a world people created on purpose and here, Gilead is a world they created on purpose. There’s motive behind it, human motive. So what we’re trying to do is say, OK, what would they do to someone like Ofglen? They don’t want to kill her or send her away. They want to maintain her fertility as part of their reproductive system and their focus on that. So how would they try to control her?

And also taking into account, Margaret Atwood has said many times and we’ve certainly took on this adage, that nothing should happen in the show that doesn’t happen in the world. We don’t want to make up cruelties just for the sake of doing it. Then it turns into pornography. It turns into violence. It’s commentary and it helps you understand the world if you take things that happened in the world. Female genital mutilation is certainly something that happens all over the world. The difference here is that it doesn’t usually happen to white girls, but it does happen all over the world. We spoke to the U.N. and we spoke to the councils they sent us to about how it happens and why it happens and what it’s used for and how it’s done. We took it really seriously. We didn’t want to do it for shock value, even though it’s very shocking. You want to do it because it seems like the thing that Gilead would do. It’s a difference in the book, but it’s also something that takes place out of Offred’s point of view, at least in the show and also in the book. So we felt like we weren’t straying so far because it was something that could have happened in the world of the book and could have happened to somebody else. But anything we did that was not in the book or anything we changed, we were incredibly serious in those discussions about why to change things.

He also discussed how timely the series is:

A lot has been said about how timely the series is. Do you feel any concern that, given the current state of our society, The Handmaid’s Tale might hit a little too close to home for many viewers who would rather avoid facing these ideas head-on?
Miller:
I’m not worried. I hope it hits a little too close to home for viewers who are feeling anxious, because I think there are some great lessons to be learned, which is that the world can change in big ways and we should be very mindful of keeping an eye on our freedoms. As in the show, we see in the flashbacks, how in big and small ways the world can change and the things that we say and the things people say, they’re going to end up mattering in people’s personal lives and that we live in a country where we enjoy lots of freedoms and that those freedoms are not to be taken for granted.

The other thing is that if it does hit close to home, it also offers some really good examples of what to do. Offred is in an incredibly difficult circumstance, and yet she finds ways to express herself, she keeps her sanity, she keeps her heart alive. She also pulls levers of power. She manipulates the people around her to both increase her chances of survival, but also to build some sort of life. She makes connections with people even when they’re scary. I think in a way that’s inspiring. If Offred can do that in that situation, maybe we can do something in this situation. I think Margaret said it in the book, which is, “just do something.” And hopefully you walk away with that. And the other part is that there is a part of doe-eyed optimism on my part, when you look in the flashbacks, the world is so jarringly different. Our messy, noisy world where people are kissing in public and on their iPhones and stuff, you learn to appreciate it, or at least I did. Spending so much time in the fictional world of Gilead, you learn to appreciate how nice it is to have a messy, noisy world and what a pleasure that is. So if you walk out of there going boy, we actually have a good thing going even though it annoys us sometimes, that’s the nerve you want to hit, which is people saying, “Oh, actually there are some good things. Let’s fight to preserve them.” As opposed to, “Things are sh–ty, let’s just throw up our hands and abandon them.

While there were changes from the book, he also discussed how he consulted Margaret Atwood in an interview with Time:

The show definitely expands on what’s happened in the book. You get more backstory. You get to see what happens from the perspective of other characters. How did you decide what to expand and why, and did you discuss those decisions with Margaret Atwood at all?

Everything’s been a conversation with Margaret. It’s very unusual with something this iconic that you would have the author still living. Margaret is an expert in her own way of seeing this particular piece of work adapted: It’s been a play, opera, movie. So she had a lot of experience with what things need to change for different forms for this story. Where I might have had trepidation changing things because of my affection for the book, she certainly did not.

If we changed something, we did it thoughtfully and for a reason. We discussed the repercussions of each change with Margaret. It’s been a very active conversation back and forth. And I’ve been through the story a lot. We’ve picked it apart in the writers’ room. Elisabeth, in particular, has been through the book and educated herself to the nth degree. She’s memorized whole sections of it. So we took great care, and most of the changes we’ve made were actually extrapolations: Taking a thing that was a sentence in the book and turning it into a whole episode.

While Handmaid’s Tale is a must-see show this season, it is disturbing and bleak. My wife and I found that comic relief was necessary after watching three episodes. Fortunately Amazon has released the third season of Catastrophe. If  you haven’t seen this, I recommend going back to the start. Each season takes under three hours to watch. It is sort of like doing You’re The Worst with older, but still highly flawed people, and setting it in the U.K.

For the benefit of those who watched the second season, the events at the end of the final episode have considerable impact as the third season began. A similar formula was used, with an event at the tend of the final episode of the third season likely to have further ramifications in the fourth. Fortunately the series was renewed for both a third and fourth season at the same time, so we will see where this goes.

Sadly, the series has become of significance for science fiction. Carrie Fisher reprised her role as Rob’s mother in an episode which ironically dealt with death and loss. This was the role she was filming before flying from London to Los Angeles the day she had her fatal heart attack. A tribute to Carrie Fisher was attacked to the episode.

The highly anticipated premiere of American Gods is on tonight. (Gillian Anderson in the above picture.) Bryan Fuller and Michael Green discussed the show with Uproxx:

The novel tackles just about every Big Theme there is: politics, religion, modernity, sexuality. Do you two think about America in these grand terms as well?

Fuller: It’s hard not to think of America in grand terms in the current political climate because the country has shit the bad. We’re facing a violent time of great crisis, and that calls into question what we believe in, where we’ve placed our faith, how we navigate the secular and the search for something more meaningful. Then there are those who are not searching, because they’ve made up their minds that they’ve experienced the extent of the world that they need to, and have no cause to look further. That’s so limited and narrow of an approach to living, so you’ve got to challenge people on what they believe. Challenge the conservative Christians who don’t understand the concept of Christianity, or else they’d never pair those two words together.

Green: The book is sexual, and that’s nothing we’d ever shy away from, but we wanted to make sure our depiction of sexuality would be relevant to the show. Where nudity becomes dicy for me, as a viewer, is when it’s cuttable. That’s the definition of ‘gratuitous,’ when it doesn’t need to be there to enhance enjoyment of the show. And that’s not the show we set out to make. We wanted all the sexuality to be grounded in character, so you can’t tell Bilquis’ story without the scene. We wanted to do the scene between Salim and the djinn with fidelity to the book, but also give a graphic depiction of gay sex that no one could say wasn’t beautiful. We wanted to show the majesty of this religious experience mediated by sex, and put it beyond judgement from those viewers who usually feel uncomfortable with same-sex depiction.

American Gods is a finite work, but the nature of TV is that when something’s going well, people want more of it. What do you think about the future of this project? American Gods has an end; does the show have one as well?

Fuller: I think the show should have an end, but that does not mean the show cannot spawn other shows that live on beyond the scope of American Gods. If we were to secure the rights to Anansi Boys, that would be our first choice for a spinoff. We love Orlando Jones and what he brings to the mythology of this series, and we love the story of that book. We’d love to get our hooks into that and branch that off if this show ends up being successful.

Den of Geek also has an interview with Bryan Fuller which tied it into contemporary politics:

Thinking about Mr Wednesday, the figure of the con man has scarcely felt more relevant to US politics.

[Laughs. Loudly]

And to the US Media.

Well, you have a con man who is saying ‘let’s make the gods great again’.  There is a certain angle of that story that is much more resonant and relevant now than it was prior to the election in November. Being in post and watching those episodes as we’re cutting and putting them together was an interesting experience – to be watching the show before the election and then watching the show after the election and realising just how resonant it has the potential to be in that climate. Particularly as an immigration story, since both the Trump election and Brexit were platforms of anti-immigration and fear of the other and exploiting that fear in citizens, it feels like we are inadvertently tapping into a conversation that we need to have and continue to have as we figure out a way to celebrate differences and not condemn them.

This story is a ripe opportunity for social comment.

Absolutely.

In particular the idea of people being whipped up into a war whose only purpose is to further the power of a couple of individuals…

It’s tragic on one level and then on another level it’s an opportunity to take a look at where we are. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards. It feels like with both Brexit and the Trump election, we’re two nations taking a step backwards. As disappointing as it was to see hatred and fear rule the day for both of us, it was a great disappointment to say the least, it makes it even more vital and important for us to encourage conversations and also to encourage the fundamentals of listening to somebody. That’s the biggest issue, certainly what’s happening in America, is the unwillingness to listen to somebody else’s point of view.

That’s something that I love to do, even if I violently disagree with somebody, I’m fascinated with how they’ve come to their decisions. Talking to people in the States who voted for Trump, and not wanting to shut them down, like, oh my gosh, you are supporting somebody who has bragged about sexual assaults and has a clear disdain for many groups of people, but instead wanting to find a common ground because what I think all of us found in both of our situations was that everybody made up their mind and there was nothing that was going to change them regardless.

SciFi Weekend: The Flash/ Supergirl Duet; Felicty Smoak, Superhero; The Magicians; Star Trek Discovery Cast; Justice League Trailer; Doctor Who At Comic Relief; American Gods; Riverdale

The DC based shows on CW are beyond their prime, suffering from attempting to have four season-long series simultaneously. I found it to be a welcome break to get away from the usual narrative on The Flash and have the musical cross-over with Supergirl last week. The episode was well received. Synopsis and review at Geeks of Doom. Another review at I09.

The story was briefly introduced at the end of Supergirl, and continued on The Flash, with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in a dream-like state, first seeing Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) singing Moon River (video above).

Other musical numbers included The Flash and Supergirl singing, of course, Super Friend in the above video, with amusing references to each series. Characters from both Supergirl and The Flash were included playing different roles, along with other CW characters such as John Barrowman and Victor Garber, both now appearing on Legends of Tomorrow.

Cast and crew discussed the episode in the video above.

Elsewhere in the Belantiverse, Felicty Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) will be seen in a super hero costume, but it will be on Legends of Tomorrow as opposed to Arrow.

Marc Guggenheim has said that we will not learn the identity of Prometheus, one of the big bads on Arrow, until season six, but it will be someone we already know. He also teased how the season finale will be different from previous seasons in not destroying Star City once again:

As the season heads toward the ultimate showdown between Oliver and Chase, we’re going to be seeing a very different season finale this year. “We’re not going to destroy the city,” EP Marc Guggenheim teases. “We’re not even going to threaten the city. In fact, I can also tell you the finale doesn’t even take place in the city. Finally, the citizens of Star City can breathe easily in May.” Wherever the finale takes place, Guggenheim adds, “You can expect a good number of returning characters, characters you haven’t seen in a while, back in the episode.”

The Magicians also had a major musical number in last week’s episode (video above). Margot once looked like just a sidekick for Eliot, but in recent episodes she has turned into quite a strong character. She is often the most sensible one, who can figure out what to do in a crisis. She had a unique way to prepare Eliot for battle, as described by IndieWire:

“The Magicians” went into battle on Wednesday night and pulled out the ultimate weapon: a Broadway musical song.

In the episode, Fillory’s High King Eliot (Hale Appleman) is about to enter into mortal combat with the King of Lauria, who has never been defeated. Eliot’s right-hand magician and partner in every crime imaginable Margo (Summer Bishil) gives him a pep talk and reminisces about how well he did in a production of “Les Miserables.” Inspired by that success, she used magic to force him and others to perform the number “One Day More” from the musical in order to get him pumped up for his duel.

For the benefit of anyone who might have read Lev Grossman’s novels but haven’t seen the television series, Margo’s character was  named Janet in the books.

Screener interviewed the show runners about this scene, and other aspects of the show. Screener also has an interview with Christopher Gorham about his newly introduced character, John Gains.

Star Trek: Discovery is now in production, with release expected late summer or early fall. Above is the first picture of the cast, via Empire On Line:

From left to right are Jason Isaacs (Discovery’s captain, Lorca), Michelle Yeoh (Captain Georgiou, whose ship is the Shenzhou), Chris Obi (the Klingon T’Kuvma, who is determined to bring together the various Klingon houses), Sonequa Martin-Green (Rainsford, also known as Number One, a lieutenant commander who serves as Discovery’s first officer and the show’s main character); Kenric Green (not actually on the show, but definitely serving as Sonequa’s husband), Doug Jones (an alien science officer aboard Discovery), James Frain (the Vulcan father of Mr. Spock, Sarek), and Shazad Latif(Kol, a commanding officer of the Klingons).

Other cast members of the show not featured in this image are Terry Serpico as Starfleet Admiral Anderson, Maulik Pancholy as the Shenzhou’s chief medical officer, Nambue; Sam Vartholomeos as junior officer Connor, assigned to the Shenzhou; Mary Chieffo as L’Rell, a Klingon battle deck commander; Mary Wiseman as Starfleet cadet Tilly, who is assigned the Discovery, and Anthony Rapp as science officer Stamets.

The Justice League official trailer has been released (video above).  Learn what Bruce Wayne’s superpower is, and how he feels about playing well with others. Here is the synopsis of the movie:

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Further discussion here.

The BBC released the above video last week:  “To celebrate Red Nose Day today we present the full 1999 Doctor Who Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death. Starring Rowan Atkinson, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley as the Doctor, written by Steven Moffat.” I09 wrote how this has forshadowed the Moffet era:

One of the other truly fascinating things about 1999’s “The Curse of Fatal Death” is how it previews a number of things from the show’s revival years later: the tried and weary Doctor, the Doctor and Master’s complicated one-upmanship, making the romantic love between the Master and Companion explicit, same for that between the Master and the Doctor (although, it’s the Doctor who is female in this, and not the Master), etc. I’m actually most disturbed by the idea of the Dalek-Time Lord hybridization, since it reminds me of the horrible Dalek plot in “Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks.”

The other thing that makes this short more relevant than before is the flurry of regenerations at the end. Both Moffat’s time as showrunner and Peter Capaldi’s time as the Doctor are coming to an end soon, and people really want a Doctor who isn’t a white man. For proof that it would work fine, check out Joanna Lumley at the end of this. She’s great!

Starz has released the above trailer of American Gods. Nerdist interviewed the cast at South By Southwest.

The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for two additional seasons.

Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa spoke with Entertainment Weekly, teasing further genre elements in the show. There was no definite answer regarding fan theories that zombies will be involved.