SciFi Weekend: Top Twenty New Shows Of 2016; Mary Tyler Moore and John Hurt Die; Genre Novels In The Age Of Trump; Riverdale Premieres

With over four hundred scripted shows (expected to surpass 500 in 2017) it is probably impossible for any one person to fairly rank the best of any season. Even many professional television critics, who don’t have another day job interfering, have said  how difficult it is to watch all the shows to do their end of year rankings. To make it more manageable, and to get around problems of listing the same top shows every year, I have limited this to the best new shows every season. Last year’s list is here and the top new shows of 2014 were listed here.

It got even harder this year with so many new streaming shows, some not dropping until December. In order to include more shows, I waited until the end of January to post the list. As usual, there are shows which I have heard very good things about which I have not watched at all. I put in a couple of shows towards the end of the list which I only watched parts of the season, and might rank them higher if I were to watch more. Also, as usual, it is very difficult to compare shows from different genre’s, or shows watched months apart. If you disagree with some of the rankings, it is very likely I also might agree and rank them differently if I were to do this on a different day. The real point of lists such as this is to point out shows which were worth watching.

Top 20 New Shows Of 2016

20. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW Network)

If based upon the premiere of the show in early 2016, this show would not have made the list, however it was much better when it returned for a second season in the fall. If you gave up on it last year, as I almost did, it is worth another look.

19. Class (BBC)

A Doctor Who spinoff aimed at an older audience than TheMary Jane Adventures. Torchwood (in its early years) remains the only spinoff I consider must see, but fans should find this enjoyable. It aired in the UK last fall, and will be shown in the U.S. this spring after Doctor Who. While I understand the decision in the U.S., I personally found it to be of more value as a fall show to fill the gap when, besides the Christmas episode, there was no true Doctor Who.

18. Fleabag (Amazon Prime)

I wasn’t as in love with this show as the critics, but if you have Amazon Prime, it is well worth checking it out and deciding for  yourself. The entire season is only about three hours, making it essentially a long movie. There is a definite payoff to some of the events of the season in the finale.

17. Atlanta (FX)

Another show which many would probably rank higher. I started watching when it premiered, but then it got forgotten in September because of a combination of being busy with personal matters and the premiers of all the fall shows. It very could rank higher after I see more.

16. Dirk Gentry’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America)

A fun and very quirky genre show which, by the end, definitely qualifies as science fiction.

15. Billions (Showtime)

An entertaining cable series. It’s most important benefit was to give Damian Lewis somewhere else to go to make sure they didn’t get desperate and try to bring him back to life on Homeland.

14. Speechless (ABC)

A few years ago it looked like network sitcoms were on the verge of death, beyond The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family. ABC has managed to continue to make worthwhile sitcoms with the Modern Family formula, including Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, and now Speechless.

13. Goliath (Amazon Prime)

Billy Bob Thorton makes what could have been a run of the mill lawyer show well worth watching

12. The Crown (Netflix)

A young queen ascends to the thrown in a high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner played by Matt Smith, who adds a bit of whimsy to the show.

11. Victoria (ITV and PBS)

A young queen ascends to the thrown in a not-so-high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner. This also has strong connections to the Doctor Who world including Victoria being played by Jenna Coleman, with supporting cast including Eve Myles from Torchwood. It doesn’t have the budget of The Crown, but in deciding upon the ranking I deferred to my wife’s opinion. This aired in the UK last fall and recently started airing in the United States on PBS.

10. Luke Cage (Netflix)

The latest introduction of a Marvel character on Netflix. It could not meet the extremely high bar set last year by Jessica Jones, but was better than the second season of Daredevil.

9. The Magicians (Syfy)

Much more than an adult Harry Potter, but that would make a starting point to explain what this series is about. Yes, it did technically have an advanced showing of the pilot in 2015, but I’ll still consider this to essentially be a 2016 series. I watched the uncut episodes later in the year, and the editing for television on the premier episode of the second season last week was noticeable.

8. The Good Place (NBC)

A sitcom which has a continuing story, a genre element, discusses philosophy, plus has Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Extra points for having one of the best plot twists on television in recent years.

7. This Is Us (NBC)

I thought that quality drama was dead on NBC with the ending of Parenthood, but this fills the gap. It had a fairly good twist of its own in the pilot but, unlike in The Good Place, I saw this one coming. The bigger surprise was that Mandy Moore could do such a good job acting. Sure it is full of old television cliches and spends most episodes tugging at the heart strings, but it does a good job of it.

6. 11.22.63 (Hulu)

Received mixed views but I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation of the Stephen King time travel novel. (No comparison between this and the messed up adaptation of  Under the Dome). More on the show here.

5. Travelers (Showcase and Netflix)

Another low budget Canadian science fiction series filmed in Vancouver. This one is well-written and highly recommended, plus now easily available in the US on Netflix. The premise is that travelers from the future send their consciousness back to our present to prevent an apocalyptic future, taking over the bodies of people at the time of their recorded death. (I was  hoping that something like this would happen on January 20.) Besides having to attend to their mission, the travelers have to cope with the lives they took over–and sometimes their information was a bit off.

4. The Night Of (HBO)

A great self-contained story which shows both problems in the criminal justice system and xenophobia.

3. The Night Manager (BBC and AMC)

An excellent adaptation of the John le Carré novel. It was such a success that BBC and AMC are planning a second adaptation.

2. Stranger Things (Netflix)

The surprise hit from last summer. The series, with explanations of the finale, was discussed here.

1. West World (HBO)

The most discussed new show of the season, with mainstream critics also falling for this science fiction series. I looked at the show at various times, with a discussion of the season finale here.

There are also shows which might make the list which I did not see. I didn’t see any point in rehashing the O.J. Simpson story, but note that The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story  (FX) has received considerable critical acclaim. Many other shows, including genre dramas such as The OA (Netflix) and comedies such as One Mississippi (Amazon Prime) are also recommended by many people.

In past years I have found shows which I did not see when new, but saw them in subsequent years and thought they deserved to be in my rankings. This year I caught up on season one and two of Dark Matter (Syfy) and loved the show. I then tried Killjoys (Syfy) and didn’t get into it. I only watched the first episode, which might not be enough to judge it. I also thought that perhaps I was expecting Dark Matter and it might be better to watch some other shows before trying it again so I could judge it on its own merit.

It is notable that, once again, cable (both basic and premium), British imports, and especially streaming, dominate the list, with very little from the major American networks.

2016 ended with the loss of one beloved actress, Carrie Fisher, and began with the loss of another, Mary Tyler Moore. Later in the week, John Hurt died. While he is more famous for other roles, among science fiction fans he might be best remembered as the War Doctor for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.

The past two weekends also were dominated by protests against Donald Trump. Earlier this week I looked at one good thing to come from Trump’s election–people are talking about books. This includes the classic 1984, as well as two other novels in which populist authoritarians became president. Even Doctor Who has been cited in discussion of the alternative facts coming from the Trump administration.

This week included the return of several genre shows, as well as the premiere of The CW’s reimagination of Archie comics, Riverdale. After watching Riverdale, I have three questions:

1) Who killed Jason Blossom?
2) What real teen talks about Truman Capote and about Mad Men by season?
3) And the old classic question, Betty or Veronica?

SciFi Weekend: The Flash; Supergirl; Arrow; Legends of Tomorrow; Gotham; Dark Mirror; Westworld; Outlander; Falling Water; Doctor Who; SNL On The Second Presidential Debate

supergirl-season-2-trailer-superman

All four shows in the Berlantiverse have premiered on the CW Network for this season. (Spoilers ahead for those who are not up to date). The Flash returned with the long-anticipated Flashpoint story, and couldn’t keep up with the hype. Unfortunately it was all predictable that after saving his mother, some reason would come up which would force Barry to restore the time line. This combined both disasters for some of his friends with him developing the problem of losing his original memories. It was mostly resolved in the first episode, but the restored timeline did have some changes, such as Iris not speaking to her father. Almost everything was fixed by the end of the second episode. There is one change which does extend to Arrow–Diggle now has a son rather than a daughter (with the son seen in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow last season).

While The Flash got off to a mixed opening, Supergirl started the season strong with the introduction of Superman–now putting these two series out in front of the Berlantiverse shows. It was the perfect view of Superman for this series–the version from the latest movies certainly would not have fit in.

I bet nobody was surprised that Kara decided to become a reporter. The move of Winn from CatCo to the DEO is exactly the type of change which might be farfetched in the real world, but which fits into television reality. They hinted at changes for Cat Grant, which is probably a cover for Calista Flockart not going to appear as often due to the move of the show to Vancouver. It does make sense that Kara will not see her as much with the change from her personal assistant to reporter. She will have a new boss, with some information from Entertainment Weekly:

Kara’s working relationship with her new boss, Snapper Carr, is very different from the one she had with Cat Grant. “Cat — both with Kara and I think with others — is actually devoted to mentoring people,” EP Andrew Kreisberg says. “She challenges them hard, but she does that with the idea that she’s forging them and they’re going to come out the other side as stronger, better people. Snapper Carr doesn’t give a crap. He believes in the written word, in facts and ‘Are you good at your job or are you not? If you’re not good at your job, I don’t have time for you.’”

A clip from next week’s episode in which Kara meets Snapper Carr is above.

While The Flash was about Barry and Iris getting together regardless of the time line, Kreisberg has decided that Kara and Jimmy Olsen should just be friends. I just hope they stick with this decision. We have seen far too many Ross and Rachel situations on television.

Arrow has been on a downward trajectory since its superb second season, and it is too early to say whether it can move out of third place among the Berlantiverse shows. The first two episodes of the season have concentrated on building a new team, and have been rather unremarkable. Maybe once this is established the show will improve. At least the flash backs in Russia look more interesting than the flash backs from last season.

Legends of Tomorrow has been largely rebooted, but I’d still rank it as the weakest of the four seasons based upon the single episode available so far.  It appears that the team has a new leader in place of Arthur Darvill’s character Rip Hunter, but I’m not certain that he is really gone for good. On the one hand the mission first season was more personal for Rip Hunter and it might make sense to reduce the emphasis on him. On the other hand, it is Arthur Darvill who has the direct connection to the Time Masters they are replacing (along with a certain Time Lord). So far we have only had a glimpse of the Justice Society of America, but we should be seeing a lot of them next week.

Geek and Sundry has a guide to the Justice Society

Before the Justice League… Who’s the Justice Society?

So, the Justice Society of America, or JSA, was DC comics’ first all-star super group, debuting in the 1940s. Its initial roster consisted of names who should sound very familiar to followers of recent movies and shows. There was the Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Flash, among others. Only these weren’t the same characters which viewers are familiar with today. A key aspect of DC lore is the notion of masked personas being passed down through generations, so when the company dusted off the super group concept in the 60’s with the Justice League of America, it didn’t take long for the creators to retcon the two teams as being part of a lineage.

Judging by the trailer, it seems this JSA might be the only official super group in the “Arrowverse,” and its line-up will be cherry picked from various incarnations of the team. It’ll also apparently live up to its name more by operating as a clandestine secret society. Who are the members, though?

Hourman

The first wearer of this cowl, Rex Tyler, takes his name from the Miralco Pill which grants superhuman physical prowess for an hour once ingested. As soon as time’s up, though, Hourman’s reverts back to being a normal human being. The chronal chaos seen in the trailer suggests, however, that this guy will be an amalgamation of all three heroes in the tradition, having the time-travel capability of the second Hourman, along with the black costume of the third.

Stargirl

She’s a more light-hearted heroine with ties to two superhero dynasties. Stargirl wields the powerful “cosmic staff,” which absorbs and re-directs energy, allowing her to fly, fire bolts, create forcefields, and also levitate objects.

Dr. Mid-Nite

Imagine a character somewhere between Daredevil and Riddick. All three Doctors have been actual medical doctors who turned to crime-fighting after accidents granted them night vision at the cost of near-blindness in normal light conditions. Hence, the goggles. For all doctors, the preferred tool is the noxious “black out” smoke bomb, and the preferred assistant is a deadly, trained owl.

Obsidian

The mutant son of the first Green Lantern (not Hal Jordan!), he’s born with powers that ironically invert the mighty light of his father. Obsidian can turn into a living shadow and gain all the associated qualities, like flight and intangibility. He can even sometimes build objects out of darkness, much like GL’s constructs.

Vixen

A bit like the Beastmaster, this heroine can tap into a primordial force called “the Red” which allows her to possess the abilities of any animal. This power comes from the mystical Tantu Totem, which is passed down through generations. And in fact, this Vixen is not the same one who’s previously been seen on Arrow. She’s her grandmother.

Commander Steel

A bit like Captain America, this star-spangled hero is a military man who’s granted super strength and invulnerability after a top secret experiment. (In this case, it’s meant to restore his damaged body.) Steel fights in World War II, and he makes life-long enemies with Nazi super-villains who come back to bedevil the grandsons who eventually take up his mantle.

There was even a reference to Gotham on Supergirl last week, even if not the Gotham of the Fox television show. This DC-based show also got off to a good start this season. Their election for mayor was settled far more quickly than our presidential election. Oswald Cobblepot might be as disgusting a figure in many ways as Donald Trump, and as crooked as Hillary Clinton, but if he was in a three-way race for president, I would be tempted to vote for him over our current awful choices.

Black Mirror

Just after I finished one show dropped on Netflix (Luke Cage), they are releasing another genre series on Friday. After two seasons of Dark Mirror on Channel 4 in the U.K., Netflix will be releasing a third season. TV Guide looks at the previous episodes to watch before the third season begins. The first two seasons are also available on Netflix. The New York Times spoke with the show’s creator, Charlie Brooker, and his collaborator Annabel Jones.

While I will hold off on discussing Luke Cage until a later date, of the Netflix Marvel series, I’d rank it just a bit behind Daredevil season 1, and above Daredevil season 2. Jessica Jones remains the best of the series. While there are some overlaps, and Luke Cage did have a role in Jessica Jones, each series can be watched independently without having seen the others.

Nerdist looks at how Doctor Strange fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

westworld

I was disappointed when I found that HBO was not streaming the third episode of Westworld early like they did with the first two, and I will have to wait until later tonight to watch. While I have not seen all of the new series which have premiered this season, so far it is the one I am most interested in. Assignment X has an interview with Jonathan Nolan. Here is a portion, which also compares it to Nolan’s previous series, Person of  Interest:

AX: You spent five years dealing with A.I. on PERSON OF INTEREST …

NOLAN: I think I found my subject.

AX: Did you come to any conclusions about artificial intelligence while doing PERSON OF INTEREST that have been useful in WESTWORLD?

NOLAN: It’s funny, because it’s really looking at the subject from a different perspective. PERSON OF INTEREST was relentlessly non-anthropomorphic A.I. was really the godhead, it was A.I. as a pure intelligence, not tethered to the mortal coil, an A.I. that was developed in secret. With WESTWORLD, you have really the opposite. You have A.I. that, if you consider the consciousness aspect of it, it’s almost an accident that these creatures – they’ve been programmed merely to be as lifelike as necessary for their job, and their job is to satisfy, as Lisa said, our most noble or most base desires. So they’re not supposed to be smarter than us. That’s the last thing [their makers] want.

AX: What are the WESTWORLD park’s customers like?

NOLAN: Well, the guest experience is the third point of view of the show, but it’s very much unlike the original film. We really wanted to start with the hosts, start with their limited understanding of what this world is. But there is that great point of entry. You want to know, how does this place work? As Lisa said earlier, the show is really an examination of human nature, from two different directions. From the perspective of synthetic humans, or synthetic beings, who have been coded to resemble human nature as closely as possible, and who are beginning the question, in the first season, just how worthy a model that is to follow. Every perspective of human beings, and this is the delicious part of the premise, who have been invited or made their way into a space in which they’ve been told that they have free rein. They can take their id on vacation. They can indulge in any whim, no matter how noble or dark that they want, and apparently without consequence. And so that’s a fascinating premise as well. You know, who are we when the lights are off? Who are we when we don’t think anyone’s keeping score? And then in between these worlds [of the synthetic hosts and the human guests], you have the programmers, writers, technicians, the Promethean characters who are responsible for mediating those two worlds.

AX: It seems like Ed Harris’ Man in Black gunslinger/marauder character is a guest who is indulging real darkness in himself …

NOLAN: Ed’s character features as the “ne plus ultra” guest. This is an expert-level player, someone who has been coming to the park, as he says in the second episode, for thirty years. He knows everything about [the park].

When Crichton wrote the original film, the state of the videogame business was Pong. In the forty years since then, that entire industry has grown up and evolved into this monster that’s bigger than the film business, bigger than the TV business. So our narrative had to account for that more sophisticated understanding that we have of gaming. We call them “guests,” but there is also a gaming aspect to what they do in the park. It is not just a leisurely resort. They’re here to engage in the narratives, and the narratives are increasingly sophisticated.

AX: We see that the guests can shoot the android hosts, and the hosts can’t shoot each other, but theoretically, the guests can’t shoot each other and the hosts can’t shoot the guests. Are the guns built so that they can detect human physiology as opposed to android physiology, or how does that work?

NOLAN: It’s not the guns. It’s the bullets. We thought a lot about this. In the original film, the guns won’t operate guest on guest. But we felt like the guests would want to have a more visceral experience here. So when they’re shot and it has an impact, they’re called “simunitions.” The U.S. military trains with rounds like the ones we’re talking about. There’s a bit of an impact, a bit of a sting. So it’s not entirely consequence-free for the guests.

There has been a steady stream of news, such as this casting news, to keep alive interest in Outlander until it returns, probably in April. The season two gag real was also released–audio not safe for work.

I haven’t had a chance to watch Falling Water yet, but have a few links for those who are interested. The New York Times has a review. Buddy TV has videos of interviews with cast and crew, followed by summaries of key points, here and here.

jenna-coleman-doctor-who

Den of Geek looks at the possibility of Jenna Coleman returning to Doctor Who.

While there are no firm plans yet, Steven Moffat has stated that Benedict Cumberbatch is interested in continuing with Sherlock after the fourth season. He is obviously quite busy on other projects, including Doctor Strange. Moffat also states that Peter Capaldi will be remaining on Doctor Who after he leaves as show runner.

Donald Trump is not happy with how Saturday Night Live has portrayed him. Video of their parody of the second presidential debate above, with Alec Baldwin portraying Donald Trump. Trump says that the media is rigging the election that Baldwin’s portrayal stinks. He also tweeted that it is “Time to retire the boring and unfunny show.”

SciFi Weekend: Stranger Things–Explanation of Finale And A Look Ahead; Mr Robot; Star Trek Discovery; Doctor Who

Stranger Things D&D

Stranger Things was the surprise hit of the summer. It was as close to a perfectly structured television show as I’ve ever seen, both telling a complete story in eight episodes and leaving some things open for future seasons. It has an excellent cast, a story which was compelling from the start, and a lot to bring back fond memories of both the 1980’s and previous stories in the genre. The early 1980’s was a perfect period for this story, when kids could roam freely without being immediately available by cell phone, kids would have to ask their science teacher for information rather than looking it up on line, and Cold War paranoia made the background of the story seem a bit more plausible. I briefly discussed the show last week without spoilers. In order to discuss the finale and where the second season might go, major spoilers are unavoidable.

If I had any complaints after the conclusion, it might be that questions which we might not have had time to wonder about while binging were left unanswered. I’m thinking of where the story was at even before the final few minutes when additional teasers for the future were inserted. Fortunately the producers do have an outline which presumably contains information which might answer some of my questions in future seasons.

We know something about the research being done at Hawkins Lab, and how Eleven presumably opened a portal to another dimension. There could be far more going on at the lab, and was there a one through ten?

What happened in the other dimension, which appears to be like ours with the atmosphere destroyed and people no longer alive? Some scenes which looked up to the stars led me to believe it was due to aliens, while the 1980’s time frame also makes me suspect it was the consequence of a nuclear winter. Why did we see only one Demogorgon? Perhaps such monsters, and perhaps other types, are roaming the other dimension, and only this one made it to their version of Indiana. Did such monsters destroy Earth, or were they created by radiation from a nuclear war? The kids faced a Thessalhydra while playing D&D at the end of the episode. Is this what they will encounter next? Is there a connection between their games and what is found in the Down Under? What was the egg which Hopper discovered?

What happened to Eleven and the monster? If this was a completed story we might assume she died after saying goodby to Mike.  However, as we are dealing with parallel universes and the ability to travel between them, it wouldn’t be surprising if a sequel shows that they did go to another dimension. Deaths always must be questioned if there is no body–and in this show even a body did not prove death. If two dimensions were shown this season, are there other dimensions which might come into play in future seasons?

It is plausible that Will remained alive as long as he did by hiding out in alternate versions of places he knows in his universe, but how did he communicate with the lights? Even if messing with the wires in one dimension affected them in the other dimension, he showed remarkable accuracy in turning flashing specific lights by specific letters. Barb was not so fortunate, but to maintain some degree of horror I think it was necessary for her to have been killed. Most of the characters who were put in danger did survive. Will was alive in the end. His mother and Hopper were both captured but managed to be released. The kids survived the final attack of the monster in their school Someone had to actually die for the monster to be menacing in the end, and a character such as Barb who was only in a handful of scenes was the obvious “red shirt.”

The final few minutes of the series went further in providing loose ends to tie up in the future. What happened when Hopper went in that car. Why was he leaving Eggos Waffles in the box in the woods? Either he knew that Eleven was out there and was leaving her favorite food for her, or he perhaps he was leaving them to see if she returned to take them. I think the later is more plausible as if he was actually feeding her he would have presumably left more.

The biggest sign that we have not seen the last of the Upside Down was when Will coughed up the slug and briefly saw the other dimension. Was that just a mental flash back, or was there a breakdown between the dimensions in the bathroom? Is this the original Will, or yet another type of fake, this time created in the Upside Down? What about Will’s mother and Hopper? Both were in the Upside Down and had breathed in the air.

The Duffer brothers have verified in various interviews that they are hoping to produce a second season involving the same characters, with additional ones added. There will be a time jump of one year which makes matters much simpler when dealing with children actors, and allows for the story to have advanced.

Here are some excerpts of interviews with Matt and Ross Duffer:

Stranger Things

From Variety:

How much do we know about Eleven’s true origins at this point, and how much did you want to keep a mystery?

Ross: We get the hint that her mom was involved in the experimentations back in the day resulting in her being born with these powers, but what we wanted to do with the show — and this season specifically — was mostly seeing the mystery and these extraordinary things through the eyes of these ordinary characters. By the end of the show they don’t know or understand everything. That is purposeful.

We do cut away to the government occasionally for these pops of mystery or horror, but what we didn’t want was to have a scene of the scientist just sitting down to explain everything. We wanted to slowly peel back layers of this mystery for audiences through the eyes of these very ordinary people. It’s not all solved by the end of the season. We wanted to resolve the main mystery of Will being gone, that was the story of this season.

Do you see the government or science conspiracy angle as a long-term mystery for the show?

Ross: There’s a lot there we don’t know or understand. Even with the Upside Down, we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why aren’t there more monsters — we have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one, because of the main tension of Will. We have that whole other world that we haven’t fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful.

Matt: We wanted a simple drive and a somewhat simple mystery with bizarre pops of supernatural horror and then add a larger mythology behind this rift that we only know and refer to as the Upside Down because that’s what the boys decide to call it. Everything they’ve learned about it is kind of hypothetical. They’re theorizing based on their knowledge from fantasy gaming and their science teacher, Mr. Clarke. That’s as much as we get to understand it. I think part of it is us thinking in terms of horror, it’s scarier when you don’t fully understand what’s happening. If you were to encounter something from another world or dimension, it would be beyond comprehension. We talked a lot about Clive Barker and his stories. They’re very weird, and the weirder it is, the more inexplicable it is, the scarier it is.

As you head into future seasons, have you thought about how much of that 30-page document you want to reveal and explore?

Ross: We leave these dangling threads at the end. If people respond to this show and we get to continue this story — we had those initial discussions of where we might go with it. If there was going to be a season two, we would reveal more of that 30 page document, but we’d still want to keep it from the point of view of our original characters.

Even though you tell a complete story within the season, you end on a couple of major cliffhangers — the first being Eleven’s disappearance. Did you want to hint at where she’s been with the scene of Hopper leaving Eggos in the woods?

Matt: Obviously something happened to her when she destroyed and killed that monster and we don’t know what she went. Hopper is left with this guilt because he sold her out. We wanted to leave it sort of mysterious exactly what he knows… Have there been sightings in the woods or is he hoping she’s out there or has he already made contact with her? We don’t answer any of that, but we like the idea of potentially putting her and Hopper together.

It also seems that the Upside Down has changed Will or maybe he’s brought some of it back with him. What can you say about the flash he has in the bathroom?

Ross: We love the idea that [the Upside Down] is an environment that is not a great place for a human being to be living in. Will’s been there for an entire week, and it’s had some kind of effect on him, both emotionally and perhaps physically. The idea is he’s escaped this nightmare place, but has he really? That’s a place we wanted to go and potentially explore in season two. What effect does living in there for a week have on him? And what has been done to him? It’s not good, obviously.

Stranger Things Christmas Lights

They discussed more of these plot points with IGN:

IGN: What can you say about where Eleven is? That’s a very open question, of course, since there are different worlds you’re dealing with here.

Ross: It is. We wanted to leave it purposefully ambiguous. We always, from the very beginning, liked this sort of childlike idea that this escapee from this facility with these amazing powers would be able to just move into Mike’s basement and they’d have this wonderful life together and she’d go to school. It’s not that simple. The goal is to make it as complicated as possible, and without going into too much detail, to really tear them apart at the end of that season, to make things much more difficult. But we love Eleven.

Matt: But the great thing about having a portal to another dimension is that you’re not boxed in, narratively. There’s a lot we can do.

Ross: What did James Cameron say? No one’s ever dead in sci-fi.

IGN: Will clearly has been changed by this experience, it doesn’t seem in a great way. But he’s not the only one that went over there. Should we assume he might not be the only one affected?

Ross: That’s a good question. Though I will say that Will obviously was in there much longer. He had that thing hooked up to him. He went through a much more traumatic experience. A big part of Season 2 that we’ve been discussing is what is that effect? Did it affect anyone else? But specifically, is Will okay? The short answer being no.

Matt: But you’re absolutely right, three of the other characters were in there.

Ross: And they took off their helmets. And we know it’s a toxic environment. Nancy was in there too. Yeah, that’s an interesting question…

IGN: Is that the cool thing about doing a time jump? Asking what has Will been like in the year in between?

Ross: Yeah, that’s exactly it. And how have these characters moved on with their lives and not just in the plot and supernatural [aspect] but also just in terms of their characters and what have they done to fill that time?

Matt: We like that they’ve all had a very traumatic, nightmare experience together and after it’s over they kind of try to sweep it all under the rug. Season 2 would be very differently, structurally. It would be that everything seems great on the surface and then there are hints that things aren’t okay or that there are lingering effects from what happened last year. The initial instinct is to push that back and sweep that crap back under the rug but eventually it becomes impossible to ignore and so they have to confront the repercussions of everything they’ve experienced. I like to think about Stephen King’s It too. — that’s a big time jump. They jump like thirty years. But the idea that the evil is still there and comes back to haunt them and one of the characters finds out about it and kills themselves immediately. That image always stuck with me.

IGN: We see Hopper go for a little meeting at the end there. What can you say about everything he was involved in and how it might open up the world?

Ross: The intention in the scene when he gets in the car – and we want to get into this in the next season – is the clean up of what happened and the mess of all this and Will dying and coming back to life, whatever happened at the school, and the dead bodies… This is not a simple clean up job. It’s complicated. We have all these characters that know that these crazy things happen. We liked the idea that, sort of lead by Hopper, our characters are drawn closer to the government, in terms of having to make a bit of a deal with the devil. To us, that’s an exciting place to take our story.

Matt: But also the idea of going back to the laboratory and pull back the curtain a little bit. Maybe they brought someone new in. It’s not as evil and mysterious as it was in Season 1. We might start to get into what they’re doing a bit little more. Maybe they seem a little bit more friendly… as least at the beginning. A lot of the agents involved in that project are dead.

Ross: The monster and Eleven did a clean sweep of that whole operation, really.

Matt: So it would be new people which I think is cool. I think our initial instinct, when you talk about all of this stuff and “Oh god, this is all such a pain in the ass. We created such a mess.” But then we decided let’s just lean into the problems this created.

Ross: And even someone like Barb, where we left them, her poor parents think she’s just run away. There’s no closure there at this point, which I think is another reason why audiences are reacting like that. They’re like “You saved this boy, but…” What we were trying to do with that last scene in the hospital when Nancy leaves and Jonathan catches her right as she’s going is that there isn’t closure for Nancy. There isn’t closure for Barb’s parents. There is still, despite the relief that our boys are feeling, there still was tragedy here. We want to make sure that we don’t forget about that. We don’t want to forget about Barb.

Stranger Things

Collider asked about the benefits of working with Netflix:

Eight episodes was the perfect length for the Season 1 narrative. Was that your decision, to keep it that tight?

MATT: Yes, it was.

ROSS: When we first pitched it to Netflix, we said, “This is an eight-episode story,” and they were like, “Great!” That’s the amazing thing about Netflix. They do not dictate. They don’t tell anyone that it should be 10 episodes or 13 episodes. They just say, “What do you need to tell your story?,” and that’s an amazing freedom that most storytellers who are working in film or TV haven’t had. This is a very recent thing. On television, you’ve gotta have a certain number of breaks for commercials. You’re working on a very clear structure.

MATT: On Wayward Pines, we were writing to commercial breaks.

ROSS: And you know how many episodes it has to be because they’ve got so many slots. Or with a film, you know it can’t be too long ‘cause you can’t get enough showings in. You’re very locked in. So, I think it’s an exciting time. We can play around a bit with form and length, and all of that, and it really just boils down to what we need to tell the story.

MATT: But even though this show has been successful, there’s no pressure to make it 13 episodes. People say, “They need to make way more episodes,” but I like to think one of the reasons it works for people is because it’s paced and it feels like a movie, and that’s because it’s not too long. I think, if we pushed it to 13 episodes, we’d have to start coming up with all these bullshit adventures they’re going on, that aren’t directly tied to the main tension. Eight felt about right. But if we’re developing Season 2 and it feels like seven or nine or eleven, Netflix would support any of those lengths.

How long do you see this series running? Have you thought about future seasons?

ROSS: We don’t know, specifically. We’re very weary of making it go on past the point it should. You want to end on a high note. That’s the goal. We’ve had initial discussions, but we haven’t quite landed on it.

Stranger Things Eleven

They spoke more about the structure of the series with Huffington Post:

One reason “Stranger Things” is effective is because the monster is revealed slowly. At first, it’s only glimpses. That out-of-sight, fear-of-the-unknown quality feels very “Jaws.”

Ross: “Jaws” was a big one. It’s a classic. The shark not working while making that movie made it much better. Also, we looked a lot at Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” On YouTube, there’s a cut of all the instances where you see the alien in that first movie, and it’s a couple minutes long. And that’s a two-hour movie. I think the reason it’s so scary is that, when it does appear, it has a certain amount of impact. So we thought, OK, we’re going to see the shadow in Episode 1, because we knew we had eight episodes. We were trying to slowly reveal it, until you finally saw the full thing. We don’t really deal with it until Episode 8. It’s a dude in a suit, and I remember reading old interviews with Ridley Scott about “Alien.” The studio was upset with him for it because it’s an amazing alien suit and you’re not shooting it. But the reason is because so much of it will look like a guy in a suit, and so much of it is that what you don’t see is much scarier. We tried to go back to that old-school style of filmmaking…

I want to pose a logistical plot question: Why did Will survive the Upside Down but Barb didn’t?

Matt: Right, I guess we think of it as ― and this is continuing with the “Jaws” references ― it’s the other dimension, the Upside Down, where the shark lives, and every once in a while it comes out of that ocean into our world on the surface and then it grabs a victim and pulls them down to the Upside Down. You saw Barb at the top of Episode 3 in the Upside Down. Just imagine that’s a world, and Barb tried to escape and failed to escape, but Will was sneakier, so he was able to escape. He was able to hide. He goes, initially, to that cubby in Episode 3 inside the Byers’ house, which is why Joyce is able to communicate with him. We had this whole backstory for what Will is doing, but we don’t see it all.

Ross: It’s more like the monster bringing him back to the net, which is why Hopper and Joyce are able to distract Will into being held in this net like a spider caught in its web. He’s brought there by the monster for eating later. Is he there for other reasons? We don’t know. We have ideas.

The way the season ends, there are enough questions answered for it to almost stand as a complete series. But the many unresolved mysteries set up an obvious next chapter. How much of the backstory regarding Dr. Brenner’s experiments and Eleven’s history did you have in place from the get-go?

Matt: We had ideas that we were sort of feeling out. We have a lot more backstory built in for Brenner and Eleven. Every time that we were writing scenes in the Hawkins Lab, we wanted to stop writing them, just because it seemed like we wanted to experience as much of it as possible in the present day and through the eyes of our ordinary characters. We just wanted to leave that as mysterious as possible. I hope that, with the mystery, people are responding to it and it’s not frustrating. But to us, the sci-fi elements are so much more fun if we’re understanding it via our characters. I like that basically everything we understand about what is going on is pretty much through the boys. And they’re only able to understand it through Dungeons and Dragons terminology and by talking to their science teacher, Mr. Clark. It’s all sort of hypothetical. I never wanted any scenes in the laboratory where you have Brenner and the scientists sitting around discussing what’s going on. And Eleven even doesn’t fully understand how she wound up where she wound up and what their plans for her are, so there are very few scenes with Brenner without one of our other main characters. The scenes that are with Brenner and not our main characters have almost no dialogue in them.

Ross: Moving forward, we’re going to get more into detail about the monster and where it came from and what the Upside Down really is. But with this season, we talked a lot about “Poltergeist.” At the end of the day, what really matters in “Poltergeist” is that Carol Anne is missing and they have to go through a portal in the closet to get her back. That matters more than the backstory. People want explanations for all that, so while we have answers for all this, what we really wanted to get from this first season is that this gate opens to this other dimension. What it really boils down to is, Will is in there and we have to get him back. The hope was that, because we resolved that, the first season will be satisfying to people and work as a stand-alone. Hopefully we get to go back and explore more of this stuff.

Mr Robot Alf

While Stranger Things brought us back to the 1980’s, Mr. Robot had a surprising beginning by opening as if it was a 1990’s sit-com, including appearances from Alf. If you haven’t watched it yet, do not skip the commercials, as they play into the illusion of a 1990’s television show. Of course, like other less obvious examples on the show, we are seeing what is happening in Eliot’s head as opposed to reality. There was even a plausible explanation for this, which led to a reconciliation with the imaginary Mr. Robot portion of him, after attempts by each to destroy the other earlier in the season. While we still do not know what happened to Tyrell Wellick, he does have a symbolic appearance here also.

I’m still waiting for WikiLeaks to reveal ties between Evil Corp, The Clinton Foundation, and The Trump Organization–the true axis of evil (even if one is symbolic and only two are real). Actually, on some level, I think that this is what Sam Esmail is trying to tell us.

Democracy Hacked

Bryan Fuller is slowly teasing news on Star Trek Discovery. It will take place ten years before the original show, bridging events between Enterprise and the original Star Trek. There will be seven lead characters including a gay character, and a female lead who plays a lieutenant commander, providing a different perspective than leading with the Captain as on other series.

The bathroom at The Way Station bar in Brooklyn is bigger on the inside than on the outside. The video above has a tour of the TARDIS themed bathroom.

In other Doctor Who news, the 1996 movie staring Paul McGann is being released on Blu-ray later this year.

Jenna Coleman and Karen Gillan had a joint appearance at Boston Comic Con. Hopefully someone videotaped it and will upload it soon.

Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies, died at age 81 during the past week.

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Season 4 Finale; New Director At SHIELD; The Flash; Supergirl; Gotham; You’re The Worst; Peter Capaldi Teases Reunion With Clara Oswald;

The Americans Season 4 Finale

The Americans concluded its fourth season  (spoilers ahead) with the death of another charter, and presumably the end of the biological weapons story line. Technically William had not died by the end of the episode, but if he should survive into the next season it will only be briefly. This was a season which included the deaths of some characters, and the possible loss of others to the show. Notable deaths include Nina and Gantt, dying in quite different manners. Plus the finale introduced another character which was mentioned previously–Philip’s long lost son from before he began working with Elizabeth.

With The Americans renewed for two more seasons, we can safely predict that Elizabeth and Philip will not be discovered in the near future, but this has been a major theme since Paige revealed their secret to Pastor Tim. Over the course of the season, Paige has developed into a reluctant but effective junior spy. The risk from Pastor Tim and his wife now seems much lower, but it will always hang in the background.

While William didn’t seek to betray Elizabeth and Philip, he did provide Stan with a small amount of information: “couple of kids…American dream. You’d never suspect them. She’s pretty. He’s lucky.” This fits far too many people for Stan to suddenly think of his neighbors across the street, but if he is ever given stronger reason to suspect them, he is bound to remember this.

Gabriel did strongly advise Elizabeth and Philip to leave the country, but left the ultimate decision up to them. If they are at risk, I think the greater risk would be that Philip might reach the point where he cannot go on. EST might help him, or it might lead him to question  what he is doing even more. Of course he couldn’t fully explain his difficulties in leaving his job when he had to go with the travel agent cover. Plus the world will change for him with the Soviet Union heading closer to its collapse and the introduction of his son.

Instead of Elizabeth and Philip deciding to leave, Oleg made that decision to help his mother. Arkady appears to be leaving involuntarily. Martha has been in the Soviet Union for months. We may or may not see these characters again.

The Americans William Palm

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields were interviewed at Speakeasy:

The finale seemed to set a lot up for the fifth season, but at the same time, a lot of stories were left in a cliffhanger-y spot. So did you know when you wrote and shot the finale that the show had been renewed?

Joel Fields: Yes. FX is very generous and communicative about that stuff. They really helped us as we were turning a corner from the end of this season toward the last couple of seasons by putting the creative choice of how to end the show in our hands. And I think in a lot of ways we were able to be thinking through that as we were finishing up Season 4.

Was any of what happened to William in the finale based on a true story, the way he infected himself with the lethal Lassa virus to get out of the mission (and to get out of spending the rest of his life in jail)? There’s got to be tons of stories about spies like William getting disgruntled after all those years.

JF: We did a lot of research into disgruntled spies, into biological weapons. We never saw a story of someone intentionally infecting himself, but, there are stories of people who actually worked on these biological-weapons programs getting accidentally infected, and the horrible, horrible way that they died. So I think that that would be the closest thing to it being based on something real.

How long had you been planning to introduce the Philip’s son plotline?  

Joe Weisberg: It’s funny, because we were reminiscing about season 1, when, in fact, [you didn’t know] whether or not Philip actually had a son. It was ambiguous. Was Irina making that up? Or was it true? And we didn’t have an answer to that, ourselves. We liked that ambiguity. We thought that was really interesting. So, introducing that plotline meant making a final decision that that was a real person and a real character, which is probably more satisfying.

JF: Yeah, and that’s that case where much of the time you really plan these things out years in advance, seasons in advance. But this part of the story unfolded organically, as the story was told, like in that first episode with Irina when she mentioned the son? That was something that blossomed out of the script, and these other pieces fell into place over the course of the seasons.

The Americans Finale

More at Vulture:

The most surprising development in the entire season for me was the relationship between the family and Pastor Tim. I’m surprised that he made it out of the season alive. But I’m even more surprised that he seems to actually be their friend now!
JF: I don’t think we ever considered killing him off. As much as everybody was speculating that he was about to go, we were really exploring the question of how these characters would deal with being in this box, and how would that [situation] unfold?

Also, Tim is a character with whom we had a lot of sympathy. He really does, on some level, want to do the right thing — that’s been his whole problem all along. And the Pastor Tim thing also was an opportunity to explore a lot in terms of these character dynamics.

JW: It was pretty apparent to us early on that [the Soviets] couldn’t kill Tim because of the effect it would have on Paige. It would destroy her parents’ relationship with her. And that was it. The question then became, with that constraint of not being able to kill him off, what else could we do? The fact that he ends up being actual friends with them did take us a little bit by surprise, but [once we figured that out], that changed our sense of who this guy was, and how we would always see him from the moment we got to know him. And so we followed that through the season, and throughout the story, he just could not open his heart up to them.

JF: But it also led to one of my favorite lines in the season, which was in episode ten, when Paige was convinced that her parents had something to do with his disappearance, and Elizabeth says, “God, why would we do something as stupid as leave Allison, and, God, she thinks we would do that? If she only knew everything we did to not kill him!”

Are we ever going to see Martha again?
JW: We’re not going to answer that!

JF: What kind of a spoiler-y question is that, Matt?

I’m sorry I disappointed you with that question, guys! I have no idea why I asked that.
JW: Come on! Why don’t you just go ahead and ask us what the last scene of the show is going to be?  [Laughs.]

Okay: So you have two more seasons to go after this one. Is two a number that FX gave you, a number that you asked for? And are you happy with it?
JF: We’re thrilled with it. They came to us some time ago and said, “As you start thinking about the end of season four, we’re all thinking about how the show’s going to wrap up. What do you need? How do you want to tell the story?” That was something they really put on our end, which was generous and allowed us creatively to figure out what we thought would be best.

The Americans William

At TV Line:

TVLINE | We’ve seen Elizabeth have some hesitation this season about the things she has to do, specifically with regards to Young-Hee. Is she starting to understand Philip’s point of view about the job?
JOEL FIELDS | Philip has gone through a major personal transformation over the course of the show, [which] on a deep level is about marriage. When you’re in a marriage with somebody, you can’t help but be affected if your partner changes. She’s started to go through her own changes, although much smaller and at a much different pace than Philip. We’ll see how all of that plays out for them as a couple, her as a mother and her as an individual.

TVLINE | We’ve said goodbye to a lot of characters recently —Nina, Martha, Gaad, Arkady and possibly Oleg now. All the departures almost made it feel like you were reaching the end of the series. But then there was a two-season renewal.
WEISBERG | We did not have any particular intention or idea [like], “Oh, let’s gets rid of a lot of characters. Oh, it’s supposed to end. Oh, let’s start over.” There was no thinking like that at all. Every bit of this is just following stories where they were going. The two major storylines of Nina and Martha were coming to their end, and they happened to be coming to their end at the same time, which is fundamentally coincidental. There is no reason one of them might not have come to an end in a different season, [but] they happened to come to an end in the same season. It is probably less coincidental, in terms of storytelling, that the Gaad storyline ended soon after the Martha storyline, but there’s certainly a world where we could have kept Gaad or not killed Gaad. But ultimately, after what happened with Martha, he just wasn’t going to survive any longer in that job. The choice to have him die and how that was going to impact other people and other elements in the story seemed like a better choice to us.

TVLINE | Martha wasn’t killed off, and you’ve had scenes in Russia with Nina and various other characters. Will we see her in that setting at some point?
FIELDS | She’s not dead. So on The Americans, that’s something to hold on to.

TVLINE | What about Oleg? What can you say about his status?
FIELDS | Also not dead.

TVLINE | But he’s leaving America? He hasn’t changed his mind?
FIELDS | We’ll see. He was pretty clear on that

agents-of-shield-tv-show-teaser
Clark Gregg has discussed his thoughts on the next Director of SHIELD, but does not seem to know very much about this and how it will play into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Entertainment Weekly:

“Since it’s clear that Coulson is Team Cap, Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen] have fiendishly put Coulson on the spot, because Hive [Brett Dalton] turned out to be the living embodiment of all the reasons why you would be afraid of Inhumans,” Gregg says. “He was the greatest argument that the people who support the Sokovia Accords could ever have for locking them all up. Coulson had to ride the line where he was trying to respect these new iterations of humanity as friends and allies, and at the same time stop Hive at all costs.” Fortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to stop Hive, but it certainly came at a steep price with Lincoln’s death, Daisy’s disappearance and Coulson’s demotion.

So, who is the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The executive producers played coy ahead of the finale, which means Gregg is in the dark, too. “I was not given a clear answer,” he says. “I don’t know that it’s been determined. I thought I was going to find out when I saw Civil War, but it’s not at all clear. It all depends when the glorious Nick Fury [Samuel L. Jackson] returns from the cold and the shadows. I suspect, in the wake of the Sokovia Accords and the end of Civil War, the people involved in choosing who the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be are other than in-house S.H.I.E.L.D. people. If I know my government bureaucracies, I have a feeling it will be someone somewhat less qualified than Coulson to run S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Screen Rant has information on a new character being added on The Flash. Supergirl has had a casting call for five new characters including Lex Luthor’s sister, plus they are finally going to show Superman. Vicki Vale is being added on Gotham. As for the comics, Bleeding Cool looks at the relationship between Batwoman and Rachel Madow (who once discussed the character on Seth Meyers’ show).

FXX has announced that You’re The Worst will return on Wednesday, August 31.

The CMT has picked up Nashville following its cancellation by ABC. It sounds like a good fit. Cable and streaming services have provided multiple ways for canceled shows to return. I still haven’t given up hope that The Food Network will revive Hannibal.

doctor-who-clara-dead-1.jpeg

Screen Rant reports that Peter Capaldi has teased the possibility of the Doctor and Clara meeting again:

Speaking at a Doctor Who panel at Awesome Con in Washington, D.C., Capaldi hinted that there might be more to the Clara situation than what we saw at the end of season 9. While Clara won’t be returning as the Doctor’s companion, she may not be completely forgotten either. Capaldi stopped himself before he revealed too much, however:

“I think that the thing about the Doctor is that he’s quite mysterious – hence the name, Doctor Who – um, and I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe his mind. And in fact, I just did a… I was about to tell you something I can’t tell you yet.”

While Amy Sherman-Paladino is finishing up work on the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls, Amazon has picked up a new pilot from her:

Sherman-Palladino’s dramedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which she wrote and executive produces, is about a 1950s housewife who decides to be one of the first female standup comics. Sherman-Palladino is currently in post-production on the four Gilmore Girls movies for Netflix, which serve as a sequel to her signature dramedy series.

Related genre post from earlier in the week: A Lanister Always Pays His Debts–But Not Donald Trump. Plus chart of which Game of Thrones character is most like 2016 candidates.

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

Capaldi First Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supergirl has been renewed for a second season.

marvels-agents-of-shield-shield

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

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

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

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

SHIELD Palicki and Blood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice March 25, 2016

Justice League: Part One November 17, 2017

The Flash March 16, 2018

Aquaman following July 27, 2018

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

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Hell Bent; Batman v. Superman; The Expanse; Transparent; Outlander; Supergirl; Fargo; You’re The Worst

Doctor Who Hell Bent

The season finale of Doctor Who, Hell Bent, concluded the three part story which began with the death of Clara Oswald in Face the Raven. It turned out that the ending of last week’s episode, Heaven Sent, contained some misdirection about where the finale was going. While the Doctor did return to Gallifrey, this was not at all what the episode was really about.

The Doctor returned to Gallifrey as a war hero, and used this return to save Clara. While the leaders on Gallifrey were concerned with the identity of the Hybrid, it turned out that the Doctor did not really know the answer. His priority was in saving Clara.

Face the Raven appeared to end with the Doctor allowing Clara to die as there was way to prevent her death. Now he was willing to break all the rules and risk the fracturing of time to save her. Clara was pulled out of time just before the moment of her death,  in between heartbeats and lacking  a pulse, not really living. She was informed of her condition by a general on Gallifrey: “Although you are conscious and aware, in fact you died billions of years ago. We have extracted you at the end of your time stream. Once you have finished here, you will be returned to your final moments. Your death is an established, historical event.”

The Doctor was willing to break the rules of time, as he had done on occasions before, and to defy the leadership on Gallifrey. He killed a general to demonstrate how far he would go to save Clara.  They escaped through the Matrix, one of several references for things established in old episodes, and escaped in an old school TARDIS. As he had started out, the Doctor escaped Gallifrey in a stolen TARDIS, this time with a functioning Chameleon Circuit. They escaped the Time Lords by going to the last hours of the universe, where they met up with Ashildr, who the Doctor had made immortal earlier this season in The Girl Who Died.

While the identity of the Hybrid was never definitively revealed, Ashildr had what came closest to an answer. She theorized, “‘What if the hybrid was to people.‘A passionate and powerful Time Lord and a young woman so very similar to him – companions willing to push each other to extremes?” The Hybrid might have been the Doctor and Clara working together.  Whether this is the actual answer, it was still a meaningful description of who the Doctor is.

The problem now is Clara was only alive in a form with some very timey-whimey stuff which threatens the space-time continuum. Plus at any moment she could be returned to the moment of her death. The Doctor believed that Clara had to have her memory wiped to return to earth and lead a normal life, where she could not be found from her memories of being with the Doctor. (I’m not sure what would have happened the first time she had any type of medical exam and was found to be lacking a pulse). It would be a sort of repeat of how things ended with Donna Noble, although the need to wipe Donna’s memory was more straight forward on Journey’s End.

Clara was watching in on the Doctor’s conversation with Ashildr and was not willing to give up the best years of her life, or her memory of them. Ultimately matters were left to chance, and it turned out that it was the Doctor, not Clara, whose memories of the other were wiped. This might make Clara safer as nobody could use the Doctor to get to her. Perhaps it also made sense for the Doctor’s memories to be erased if they were not going to remain together. As we saw on The Snowmen, it took him on hundred years to get over the loss of Amy and Rory, and after over four billion years he has not gotten over what appeared to be the death of Clara.

On the other hand, this is not the first time that the Doctor has lost a companion. Is  Clara that much more important to the Doctor than Rose Taylor, Donna Noble, or Amy Pond? Plus it is never clear why the Doctor and Clara could not continue to travel together.

Doctor Who Hell Bent 2

Throughout the episode, scenes were interspersed with the Doctor at an diner speaking to a waitress played by Jenna Coleman. By the end, we finally realized the meaning of these scenes, with Clara knowing who the Doctor was, but the Doctor not remembering her. The Doctor told Clara what he recalled of this story, even believing that he would remember Clara if he saw her, but he did not. He did see an image of her when he got his TARDIS back due to Rigsy’s memorial graffiti, plus The Doctor got a new sonic screwdriver.

Despite the matters left unanswered on this episode, it was all worthwhile for the ending in which Clara, who had already become like a Time Lord, ended up in her own TARDIS with her own companion, Ashildr. Again, it is not clear why Clara can travel with Ashildr, but not with the Doctor. While we will probably not see Clara again on the show, I bet this will launch a lot of fan fiction.

Doctor Who Extra videos for Hell Bent can be seen here.

Doctor Who returns on Christmas Day with The Husbands of Rive Song. The synopsis has been released:

It’s Christmas Day on a remote human colony and the Doctor is hiding from Christmas carols and comedy antlers. But when a crashed spaceship calls upon the Doctor for help, he finds himself recruited into River Song’s squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy. King Hydroflax (Greg Davies) is furious, and his giant robot bodyguard is out of control and coming for them all! Will Nardole (Matt Lucas) survive? And when will River Song work out who the Doctor is?

The Batman v. Superman trailer was shown on Gotham last week. As I know some superhero fans are not watching Gotham due to the lack of superheroes, I’m posting it above for those who might have missed it.

The Expanse officially states on December 14, but the first episode can be seen online here.

Amazon will be releasing season two of Transparent on December 11, but the first episode was made available early.

The second season of Mozart in the Jungle will be released by Amazon on December 30.

Outlander returns for a second season this spring. Teaser above.

Supergirl has been picked up CBS for a full season. The show still seems to be trying to figure out where it is going without being too much a clone of The Flash, and sometimes struggles to be in Superman’s shadow while contractually being unable to show him as an adult (with a younger version of him to be seen this season). Now that it has a several episodes under its belt, it is starting to show more promise.

Meanwhile on CBS’s sister network, The CW Network, the annual cross over episodes of The Flash and Arrow has aired. It served largely to set up Legend’s of Tomorrow, but was a fun two hours with the casts of both current shows getting together again. During the week there was also another round of rumors of a cross over episode between Supergirl and The Flash, with this once again denied (but not ruled out for the future).

Fargo season three will take place a couple of years after the first season, and could include some of the same characters.

FXX has renewed You’re The Worst for a second season. While an argument could be made that the show had stronger dramatic material from Aya Cash this season, I do hope that she gets over her depression and the third season returns to the dynamic between Gretchen and Jimmy of the first season.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Heaven Sent; Legends of Tomorrow; Arrow; The Flash; Supergirl; Captain America: Civil War; Jessica Jones; Sleepy Hollow

Doctor Who Heaven Sent

Heaven Sent was an ambitious episode of Doctor Who, following the death of Clara Oswald. The Doctor is in a castle with moving walls and stalked by a monster who represents his greatest fears. Only confessing his deepest, darkest secrets will slow it down, but he ultimately dies and starts over, like Bull Murray in Groundhog Day. Before dying, he would retreat to a version of the TARDIS in his mind, and discuss his plans with a version of Clara, who also was only in his mind. Sometimes answers were provided on chalk boards. His escape might be in the twelfth room, once again giving more meaning to his artificial designation as the twelfth Doctor. He eventually realizes that every one hundred years a bird pecks on a diamond wall which is preventing his escape. He manages to reverse-teleport allowing a version of himself stuck in the hard drive to start over. (This might raise the question as to whether at the end he is really the same Doctor who we started out with, but considering that the entire universe has already been rebooted and recreated, this hardly matters.)  The rooms in the castle all revert to their previous state (automated room service). After billions of years, of doing this, the wall would break down.

You really must see this for it to make any sense, and I would recommend a second viewing.

As the Doctor confesses, we learned that he did not leave Gallifrey because he was bored, but because he was scared. The Timelords knew that the time war was coming. After escaping the castle, the Doctor sees Gallifrey off in the distance. He contradicts what he claimed before and confesses that nothing is half-Dalek. The Daleks would not allow it. He admits, “The Hybrid destined to conquer Gallifrey and stand in its ruins is me.”

The meaning of this remains unclear. Maybe they are returning to the claims in the 1996 movie that the Doctor is half human, but I suspect there will be a different meaning. There are also other questions especially what will happen when he gets to Gallifrey? There are also questions about the recent past, give or take several billion years. Who trapped the Doctor and sent him to Gallifrey? What exactly is the confession dial? How does Ashildr fit in? These question may or may not be answered next week in Hell Bent.

Doctor Who Extra videos for Heaven Sent can be seen here.

A full length trailer for Legends of Tomorrow has been released, giving a far better idea of what the first season will be about. There are some minor spoilers out for the DC superhero shows. There are rumors that Constantine will be in season two of Heroes of Tomorrow, with a different cast from the first season. Other reports say that this might be a single season show, possibly replaced with a different show next year.

Constantine might also have further impact on Arrow this season:

Constantine’s parting gift to Oliver — a magical tattoo? — will come back to play soon. “Basically Constantine says to him that this is insurance against Reiter, and we’re going to deliver on that promise entirely,” EP Wendy Mericle says. “It’s going to help Oliver when he’s in a very dark place and time when he has no other way out. It’s going to be the thing that pulls him out of a very dark spot and literally saves him.” But whether he’ll be able to use it on Damien Darhk is another story. “The mysticism that Reiter is practicing may or may not sync up with what Damien Darhk is doing,” Mericle adds.

Stephen Amel told what he knows about the flash forward to a graveyard scene in Arrow (and it is not very much):

Amell initially joked, “It’s not me.”

He then added, “I don’t. That’s not for me to know. That’s for our producers to know. It’s only for me to know if and when I need to do something if we end up doing another flash forward in the show. I needed to know certain things about the scene without knowing who it actually was when we did the initial flash forward. I just needed to simply know that the person I wanted to kill was a him and that the person that was in the grave was someone I cared a lot about. That’s all I needed to know. I don’t need to know the specifics until if and when we shoot another flash forward scene if there was something else that I had to say.”

We will also be seeing more of Jay Garrick and Harrison Wells on The Flash:

When Jay Garrick returns, he may actually find some common ground with Wells for once, though it won’t be easy. “Jay is summoned to S.T.A.R. Labs in an urgent matter from Wells,” Teddy Sears tells EW. “Jay shows up only to find out that Wells wants Jay to be his guinea pig. He is toying with a substance that has its history in the lore of The Flash, so it’s something from the comics. He wants to try it on Jay to see if it works because he wants to use this on Barry in their fight to bring down Zoom. Jay doesn’t react very well to that. He doesn’t want to be a part of Wells’ schemes. There will be some life threatening moments in there and we have to use a combination of science and ingenuity and Wells’ mysterious substance to get to a safe conclusion.”

There are rumors of a meeting between Supergirl and The Flash. They do have a lot in common in their first seasons. Both were mentored by a head of an organization or lab who were keeping secrets. I suspect both were evil, but we don’t know very much yet about Hank Henshaw.

New scenes from Batman v. Superman will be shown during the Gotham season finale on Monday.

Over on the Marvel side,the above trailer was released for Captain America: Civil War, with the movie to be released May 16. Some fans have been disappointed by the lack of Spider-Man in the trailer despite his planned presence in the movie now that Marvel Studies and Sony have come to an agreement. There is also the possibility that Captain America and Iron Man will appear in the next Spider-Man movie.

I finished Jessica Jones on Monday, and it maintained the quality I noted last week. Unlike Daredevil, which did often have distinct stories within its general arc, the episodes flowed together like one long (and highly enjoyable) movie. Jessica Jones has a lot of Easter eggs related to the rest of the Marvel universe. If they ever decide to move beyond the Marvel universe, I recently noted aspects of Donald Trump which would work well to make him the evil supervillian in one of these future shows set in New York.

The other major streaming series to premier the same day, Man In The High Castle, also looks quite promising but I haven’t gotten too far into this one yet. Both of these  recent shows to start streaming might be good topics to write more about in December after most of the genre shows have gone on hiatus. Incidentally, TV Line has a handy chart of when shows are ending for the holidays, and when they are returning in 2016.

Fargo has been renewed for a third season by FX, but Fox is moving Sleepy Hollow to Friday nights, where genre shows go to die. While better than last season, Sleepy Hollow still has not recaptured the quality of the first season. Some shows are better suited for more limited runs than is common on network television. I don’t think Fargo is as good as the first season (very few shows ever have been as good as the first season of Fargo, but the second season is still very good. It does benefit from having an entirely different story each year.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Face the Raven; Jessica Jones; Arrow Flash Crossover; 11/22/63; Lost In Space; New Show From Bays and Thomas

Doctor Who Face the Raven

Only four companions had previously died in the long history of Doctor Who, with none in the new series. This changed on Face the Raven with the death of Clara Oswald.  The episode took place on Trap Street, a hidden street in London like something out of Harry Potter, except in this case Maise Williams’ immortal character returned as mayor, providing sanctuary for aliens. Clara’s friend Rigsy (previously seen in Flatline, when Clara was acting as the Doctor) was sentenced to die, with a Chronolock tattooed on his neck, counting down the minutes until his death. The Doctor tried, unsuccessfully, to turn to his index cards to express his condolences, but Clara pushed him to try to save him.

Unfortunately it turned out to be Clara who saved him by transferring the Chronolock from Rigsy to herself. Maise Williams’ character, Me,  had already guaranteed Clara’s safety on Trap Street, so she thought this would buy them time. What Clara did not know is that Me never really intended for Rigsy to die. However, once the Chronlock was transferred from Rigsy to Clara, the terms of Me’s deal with the quantum shade, which controlled the execution, were changed and Me could not save her.

Clara assumed the Doctor could save her once again, but he could not, and the two said their dramatic farewells. It did seem  questionable that the Doctor couldn’t at least try to save her. After all, it was already established that there was a stasis machine nearby. If that couldn’t work, there was also a teleport bracelet, not to mention the TARDIS, which might take Clara to safety.

Clara’s death was actually guaranteed by the decision for Jenna Coleman to leave the series. Steven Moffat discussed writing Clara out in an interview with Blogtor Who:

“What we’re gonna do with Clara’s departure was ‘Plan A’. This is what I wanted to with Clara from very, very early on in Clara’s run but Jenna said that she wanted to leave at the end of Series 8. And I sort of knew she didn’t really want to leave, I think she just felt she ought to leave at the end of Series 8, despite my various attempts to tell her what she was thinking – which never goes down well I find with human beings! [Laughs]

She decided to leave so I wrote her out of the end of Death In Heaven, that was her last episode. I was halfway through Christmas [Last Christmas] without Jenna and she said, ‘Actually, I’d like to be in Christmas,’ so I discreetly threw away the script I was writing and started again. [Laughs] Never told her that – should’ve.

I wrote her out of the end of Christmas but this time I sniffed a wind and wrote two endings; one version where she actually is the old lady and we last see her going up the spiral staircase. At the read through we did the big heart-rending departure and she changed her mind.

Peter and I did perform every form of emotional manipulation known to people on the world tour, badly and ineptly I might add. I like to think in the sheer ineptitude of out apparent subterfuge we were charming.

But what we’re doing now is the right way for her to go, in my view.”

Doctor Who Face The Raven Clara

There might theoretically be a way in which Clara did not die and could return for some of the final episodes of the season, but now that Jenna Coleman had her big exit scene it would be better to leave her character dead. That does not mean that Jenna Coleman might not show up again. A form of Clara has been involved with all Doctors we have seen so far, and the way in which she was fragmented should mean that she will also be involved with future Doctors, although that does not mean that either the Doctor or the audience will see her

The Doctor has met Clara in different forms. He met Oswin Oswald, the soufflé girl, in Asylum of the Daleks, and met the Victorian barmaid and governess Clara Oswin Oswald  in The Snowmen.  He also came close to meeting Clara as a child but did not recognize her.

There are still questions left from Face the Raven. The Doctor was teleported off, and is on his own, leading into the final episodes of the season (which will be extended length). Will he return to face Me, after warning her “You’ll find that it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you”? Who was Me working with? It was apparently someone who knew about the Confession Dial, which might mean Davros, or Missy. Incidentally, it was Missy who put Clara in touch with the Doctor in The Bells of St. John, so it might be fitting that she was also indirectly involved in her death. (Incidentally Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy, also appeared on Gotham last week).

The portion of the season prior to the Christmas episode will end with another two-parter. Heaven Sent will air on November 28th and run fifty-five minutes.  Hell Bent will air on December 5th and run sixty-five minutes.

Behind the scenes videos of Face the Raven can be seen here.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

It was a tough decision with both Jessica Jones and The Man in The High Castle both becoming available for streaming on Friday night. Ultimately a show staring Krystin Ritter, David Tennant, and Carrie-Ann Moss won out. In addition to these three, Rachel Taylor does an excellent job as  Trish Walker and Mike Colter is excellent as Luke Cage. Besides appearing in Jessica Jones prior to appearing in his own show, Luke Cage has been teased in a trailer for the second season of Daredevil.

While I have not finished the series yet, I have seen enough to say that this is excellent. It is possibly the best superhero show ever on television, and possibly the best television show or movie with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vulture has a collection of excerpts from the many excellent reviews of the series. I will have no spoilers of the individual episodes in discussing the series.

Jessica Jones has started out even stronger than Daredevil. While set in the same Hell’s Kitchen background, it is not entirely as dark and gritty, with more of New York City seen. There are brief mentions of other events in the Marvel universe, but it is not necessary to have seen any as long as you are just aware that New York City was under attack in The Avengers movie.

Krystin Ritter is excellent as the damaged superhero. She plays a strong female lead, but the tone of the show is entirely different from the other superhero series with a female lead, Supergirl. Ritter’s dramatic acting abilities were clear in Breaking Bad, and she showed she could handle being the lead for a show in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. She further shows her acting talent as the lead in this complex dramatic role in which her character underwent a traumatic experience in the past, leading to the season-long arc with the big-bad Killgrave, played by David Tennant.

Jessica Jones Trish Walker

Krystin Ritter discussed playing Jessica Jones at Speakeasy:

Unlike a lot of superhero shows, she doesn’t seem to rely on her superpowers that often.

That’s how I always approach the character. Just a woman and a girl first, with her feet on the ground and with real issues. Her struggle is so personal and so relatable and so grounded. I just focused on that and the superpower thing second. I just felt like it was an extension of who she is – because internally, she’s so strong.

What unique issues are being explored in “Jessica Jones”?

I felt like it was groundbreaking material in how it handles some of the darker stuff that happens to her. We never actually see, literally, [her] history with [villain] Kilgrave. But we see the effects of it. Ultimately, this is a story about coming to terms with something internally with yourself. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t sexualized. She’s never putting on high heels and the tight skirt to seduce somebody like your typical P.I. So there were all these things in there that felt a lot bigger. I felt like it was a great conversation starter. It has the potential to be an iconic character.

The Los Angeles Times spoke with Kristin Ritter and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, who was also head writer on early seasons of Dexter:

“[For Jessica] the superpowers are just a matter of fact. She doesn’t advertise them, but she doesn’t deny them. She doesn’t hide them,” show runner Melissa Rosenberg explains. “What I love about this character is she’s so unapologetically who she is. She’s unapologetic about her sexuality, about her powers, about her drinking, about just about anything. She is who she is.”

Her sexuality, and drinking, along with other aspects of Jessica Jones, are certainly not hidden. While there is no nudity, this is not a superhero series for children.

I have also been bookmarking material on The Man In The High Castle but will wait until I have hopefully had time to start the series.

An extended promo has been released for this season’s crossover episodes of The Flash and Arrow, starting December  1 (video above).

The season finale of The Flash is part of the crossover event with Arrow and introduces Wally West. There has been speculation this season that when Iris’s mother turned up and there was mention of another child, this would be Wally West. The following synopsis has been released.

“Running to Stand Still” — MARK HAMILL, WENTWORTH MILLER AND LIAM MCINTYRE RETURN; KEIYNAN LONSDALE JOINS THE CAST AS WALLY WEST — When Mark Mardon AKA The Weather Wizard (guest star Liam McIntyre) returns to break Leonard Snart AKA Captain Cold (guest star Wentworth Miller) and James Jesse AKA The Trickster (guest star Mark Hamill) out of Iron Heights, Barry (Grant Gustin) must stop these rogues from taking over Central City during Christmas. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) meet Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). Kevin Tancharoen directed the episode written by Andrew Kreisberg (#209). Original airdate 12/8/2015.

We have already seen the first glimpses of Hawkgirl on The Flash, as the various characters for Legends of Tomorrow have been put place on Arrow and The Flash. Legends of Tomorrow will debut on Thursday, January 21. In addition to bringing back old characters on Arrow in preparation for this, Roy will be returning to Arrow in episode 412.

The above teaser has been released from 11/22/63 from J.J. Abrams, based upon the book by Stephen King. It is to be released on Hulu on Presidents Day, 2016.

Danger Will Robinson: Netflix is planning a reboot of Lost in Space.

CBS has signed a deal with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to produce another comedy set in New York. Deadline reports that the show, named New York Mythological, “centers on a Midwestern girl who moves to Manhattan and experiences firsthand the magic of New York.” It sound like quite a few other shows done over the years but it is the execution which matters. There have also been a lot of shows about friends in New York City, but few did them as well as Bays and Thomas did with How I Met Your Mother.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Jessica Jones; Supergirl; Limitless; Star Wars; Blindspot; Childhood’s End

Doctor Who Sleep No More

I don’t want to spend too much time on an episode of Doctor Who which I really did not like very much.  Sleep No More did not have the usual intro sequence to the show but did start with a character giving this warning: “You must not watch this! I’m warning you. You can never unsee it.” Viewers should take his advice and apply it to the episode.

It is hard to say exactly what to make out of an episode where the Doctor says he’s confused and that it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps this was written to lead into future events of the season. We know Jenna Coleman is leaving, and we are told that the Morpheus process has already begun in Clara. I hope that this is not the episode which leads into Clara’s departure, especially if it means she dies. A major character deserves to go out better than this. This could be the worst exit for a character (even if not the final episode for her) since Tasha Yar’s death on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Mark Gattiss warns that a sequel is planned. He should not be judged primarily on this episode after all the great writing he has done. Fans might be more interested in this interview with Tor, released earlier this week

Doctor Who Extra videos can be seen here. (I have not watched them–I have no further interest in this episode).

Doctor Who Magazine Clara

While the show itself was weak, presumably it inspired the great cover for Doctor Who Magazine. More on the contents of the issue here.

Next week Fear the Raven features the return of Maisie Williams.

The BBC has released the synopsis for the Hell Bent, the final episode of Doctor Who before the Christmas episode:

If you took everything from him, betrayed him, trapped him, and broke both his hearts…how far might the Doctor go?

Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor faces the Time Lords in a struggle that will take him to the end of time itself. Who is the Hybrid? And what is the Doctor’s confession?

These trailers for Jessica Jones continue to create considerable interest in the show, premiering November 20 on Netflix.

CBS has pulled episodes of Supergirl and NCIS scheduled for Monday following the terrorism in Paris as they deal with terrorist attacks. The episode planned for next week has been moved up.

I09 reports that Georgina Haig of Fringe will have a recurring role on Limitless:

Georgina Haig is set for a recurring role as Piper. Per the producers, Piper was once like Brian, naive and sheltered—then she lost everything. Now, self-trained in many forms of combat, she has a mission to stop the man who took it from her—with Brian as either her ally or her enemy.

This TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has also been released.

J.J. Abrams has some comments on Luke Skywalker.

NBC has renewed Blindspot for a second season. That is good news, but also means there is no hope for an explanation this year.

The above featurette was released on Syfy’s upcoming adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End.

Julian McMahon and Charles Dance, who star in Syfy’s new Childhood’s End talk about what it means to be a part of a utopian society. Childhood’s end looks at a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious “Overlords.” The group’s arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule…but at the cost of human identity and culture.

Vincent Margera has died. TMZ reports:

Vincent Margera — the uncle of Bam Margera who appeared in “Jackass” — has died … TMZ has learned.

Vincent became famous for pranks he pulled off with Bam on the TV show and later the “Jackass” movies as well as “Viva La Bam”.

It’s a double blow for Bam, who lost his best friend and co-star Ryan Dunn, who was killed in a car crash.

Vincent has been struggling with kidney and liver failure for several years. He fell into a coma last month and has been in bad shape ever since.

Bam’s mom tells us, Vincent passed away Sunday at 6:45 AM.

Vincent was 59.  RIP.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; New Star Trek Series; Supergirl; Jessica Jones; Donald Trump & Larry David (as Bernie Sanders) on Saturday Night Live

Doctor Who Zygon Inversion Clara

The Zygon Inversion had a different feel from last week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Zygon Invasion. Both are anti-war stories, but the first built up what appeared to be grave danger for the Doctor and the earth on a worldwide scale. The conclusion was a far more personal story, and eliminated the threats from the previous week rather easily.

The Doctor used the Osgood Box as a means to get both sides to talk, and ultimately think about what they were doing. War was simplified to pushing one of two buttons: “This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought, right there in front of you.” It was ultimately a trick, with the boxes being empty, but they served their purpose. Apparently this was quite necessary as this was the fifteenth time the Doctor had to use this argument to keep the Zygon peace treaty intact, even if the other occurrences were off screen.

The episode had other moments. The Doctor provided a different answer as to what TARDIS stands for: Totally And Radically Driving In Space. Another top line was “I’m over 2,000 years old. I’m old enough to be your messiah!”

The show also foreshadowed the plans for Jenna Coleman to leave the series. The Doctor refered to the time spent thinking that Clara was dead as the “longest month of my life.”  When Clara contradicted him, saying it was only five minutes, the Doctor responded by saying,“I’ll be the judge of time.”

In recent interviews Steven Moffat said “Clara is gone and will never return,” and “I can only say that what will happen will shock, surprise and terrify. Strictly in that order.” We already saw that when Amy Pond left, Moffat left matters so that she also could not return. I wonder if the manner in which Clara leaves will account for her origin. Clara was splintered in time and looked after each regeneration of the Doctor, and presumably should also be present, even if unseen, in each future Doctor.

River Song is reportedly returning for the Christmas episode this year. I wonder if that is to fill a gap with Clara already gone.

From various interviews and articles posted recently, it also appears that Doctor Who is coming back next year at least for twelve plus the Christmas episode, with Moffat hoping to increase this back to thirteen full episodes. There are also no current plans to skip a year or split the season as some reports have stated.

Star Trek TOS

The big news of the past week has been that CBS is planning on another Star Trek television series to start in January 2017. The catch is that the plans are to show the first episode on CBS and then have the remaining episodes on CBS All Access, a streaming service from CBS which currently costs $5.99 a month. Currently I have the highest cable tier (which obviously includes CBS along with all the premium channels and their streaming services) and have subscribed to Netflix and Amazon Prime for a while. I have added the commercial free version of Hulu, which contains shows from most of the networks. While not very expensive, with the cost not really being an issue, I cannot help but questioning  paying for a streaming service from CBS alone.

CBS is obviously counting on the large number of Star Trek fans to pay for the service. My bet is that most Star Trek fans are tech savvy enough to download the show without paying and will balk at a streaming service which is limited to a single network, which has its other shows available on cable. Realistically I could easily stop my subscriptions to all the premium cable channels I subscribe to, along with the streaming services, and easily download everything I watch. I pay for multiple sources because I believe it is the right thing to do, and sometimes it is even more convenient. While I may or may not subscribe to CBS All Access, my bet is that most people will see this as a rip-off, questioning why CBS doesn’t just use Hulu more like the other networks, and just download the show.

There are many other questions which have not yet been answered. Will the show take place in the Roddenberry universe or the J.J. Abrams universe? When will it take place? We saw that a prequel did not work very well with Enterprise, although it finally figured out how to handle Star Trek in its final season when it was too late. My suggestion would be 20-50 years after Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then, taking into consideration a longer lifespan if necessary, there could be cameos from the old cast.

I also wonder if they will release an entire season at once Netflix style, or have this be a weekly show. A weekly release could result in much more on-line buzz as it is possible to discuss each episode every week. It is harder with a show in which an entire season is released at once as viewers are at all different point. How many episodes will there be a season? The longer seasons of past episodes allowed for a closer look at even the minor characters, along with discussion of ideas, which made the television series much better than the movies.

Supergirl Episode 2

The second episode of Supergirl seemed almost like a new television event considering how long the pilot has been available on line. Overall it was a good episode (one of only three new network shows I’m still watching), but the story was weakened by having to go through the almost obligatory stories of the superhero learning how to use his/her powers. I’m hoping for stronger individual stories when they are not burdened by such matters. Watching this with Arrow and Flash back on also highlights the degree to which they are using a similar format for all three. All have the hero/heroine who is backed up by a team, with various degrees in which the team coordinates or attempts to control their activities. So far Supergirl faces the most severe issue of attempted control from others. Personally I find the government agency the weakest part of the series so far, and would prefer to see Supergirl standing on her own, with her coworkers (along with boss played by Calista Flockhart) being the major part of the story beyond Supergirl.

Meanwhile, on the other DC shows, we are gradually seeing the team being set up for Legends of Tomorrow with evidence that Ray Palmer is still alive and the resurrection of Sara Lance, with the help of Constantine. Arrow has also done an excellent job with the new big-bad, as has The Flash with Earth 2 and the threat from Z00m. The Marvel-based show is also off to a good start this season with Agents of SHIELD having a few interesting subplots started for the season, including the revelation of Lash’s identity. It looks like the rescue of Will from the alien planet might be stretched out for a while longer.

In case anyone is interested, the other two networks shows I’m watching this season are Blindspot and Limitless. Plus there are several shows which have either started or are coming up on streaming video which I plan to watch. I have only caught the first episode of Aziz Ansari’s new show on Netflix, Master of None, and plan to continue. I have heard that the second episode is even better, and that the show continues to improve.

Jessica Jones3

Netflix has released several pictures from Jessica Jones, including the one above. Originally the show was to be called AKA Jessica Jones, and the have kept the AKA in the episode titles. Following is a listing with brief synopsis of the episodes, which might give a better idea of what the series is about.

AKA Ladies Night: Jessica Jones is hired to find a pretty NYU student who’s vanished, but it turns out to be more than a simple missing persons case.

AKA Crush Syndrome: Jessica vows to prove Hope’s innocence, even though it means tracking down a terrifying figure from her own past.

AKA It’s Called Whiskey: It won’t be easy to acquire or deploy. but Jessica thinks she’s found a weapon to use against Kilgrave. Luke and Jessica bond over their similarities.

AKA: 99 Friends: A new case demands attention as Jessica tries to find out who’s spying on her for Kilgrave. Trish’s radio show yields unexpected consequences.

AKA The Sandwich Saved Me: Despite Jessica’s objections, Trish’s new friend Simpson gets involved in the hunt for Kilgrave. Jessica recalls a pivotal moment in her life.

AKA You’re a Winner: Luke hires Jessica to help him find someone who may have skipped town, but she fears he’ll learn too much about her history in the process.

AKA Top Shelf Perverts: Malcom, Simpson and Trish go rogue to prevent Jessica from carrying out an extreme plan to outwit Kilgrave.

AKA WWJD: Jessica experiences a strange homecoming courtesy of Kilgrave. Hograth’s conflict with her estranged wife reaches a tipping point.

AKA Sin Bin: Just when Jessica has Kilgrave right where she want’s him. Hogarth’s involvement complicates the situation. Details of Kilgrave’s past emerge.

AKA 1,000 Cuts: A discovery has the potential to change the entire game — if Jessica can refuse Kilgrave’s offer.

AKA I’ve Got The Blues: Jessica searches morgues for clues. Trish goes all out to keep Simpson from getting in Jessica’s way. Malcom has an epiphany.

AKA Take a Bloody Number: The hunt for Kilgrave reunites Jessica with Luke. Trish receives some unexpected information about Simpson and Jessica.

AKA Smile: Jessica and Luke get help from someone else in the neighborhood. Kilgrave gears up for a major test of powers against Jessica.

I was rather disappointed by Donald Trump’s appearance as guest host on Saturday Night Live, despite the high ratings which Trump brought in, and the reviewers have agreed. I think that the problem is that Donald Trump is already such an absurd a character that it is difficult to make a parody which is any more amusing.

The best exchange with Trump took place with Larry David, based upon the offer from Deport Racism:

You’re a racist!” he yelled, interrupting Trump.

“Who the hell is – oh, I knew this was going to happen,” Trump responded. “Who is that?”

“Trump’s a racist!” David responded.

“I heard if I did that, they’d give me $5,000,” he added.

“As a businessman, I can fully respect that,” Trump said.

Larry David also had the funniest overall moments of the episode, reprising his impersonation of Bernie Sanders at Friday’s Democratic Forum in the cold open–video above. Variety summarized a couple of portions, but watch the full video.

On raising taxes: “We need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. It’s crumbling. That’s why I no longer drive on bridges or through tunnels. It’s too risky. Instead, I keep a kayak strapped to the top of my car.”

On campaign finance: “The other candidates, they’re taking millions of dollars from the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil. But not me. I only accept coins. And not fancy coins. I only just want nickels and pennies, the coins of the middle class. So America, if you believe in Bernie, I need you to go home, open your vacuum, turn it upside down, and send me all the pennies that fall out of it. I’m Bernie Sanders, and I want your vacuum pennies.”

Larry David’s previous impersonation of Bernie Sanders, along with other humorous clips related to Bernie, can be seen here.