SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; San Diego Comic Con Highlights Including Doctor Who, Arrow, The Flash, SHIELD, Muppets, Star Wars, Orphan Black, Heroes Reborn, Superman v Batman, & More

Hannibal-Digestivo-Clips-071815

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Digestivo, involved a lesbian relationship between Margot and Alana, a pig-baby, and an escape from Muskrat Farms.  We learned that Mason’s plan was to cut Will’s face off, place it onto his face, which had been destroyed, and then eat Hannibal piece by piece with Will’s face. His butcher/surgeon, Cordero, is at least as sadistic as Mason, and planned to both cut off Will’s face without anesthetic (but paralyzed) and keep Hannibal alive while he is eaten piece by piece.  Mason’s best line of the episode, discussing another cannibalistic murder was, “you go to all that trouble to eat a friend, and you overcook his penis.” In telling this story, Mason did promise not to overcook Hannibal’s penis.

Alana and Margot, who became lovers, had major roles in this episode. Alana knew that Mason’s sadism would work to her advantage: “He’ll torture them and take the time to enjoy it: That gives us time.” Alana even warned Mason as to how this would all turn out: “Play with your food, Mason, and you give it the opportunity to bite back.”Alana and Margot set Hannibal free, while Chiyoh was nearby to shoot anyone pursuing them. Finally Chiyoh’s presence in the earlier episodes this season had a reason. Instead of getting Will’s face, Mason saw himself with Codero’s face lying on his own before he was killed in his eel tank. Hannibal gave up on his earlier desire to eat Will, possibly because of how intrigued  he was when Will took a bite out of Cordero’s face. Regardless of motivation, Hannibal kept a to promise he made to Alana to take Will to safety, but was shocked when Will realized he was all through with Hannibal–so shocked that Hannibal surrendered.

Now there is going to be a three-year time jump, and on to the events of Red Dragon.

Caroline Dhavernas and Katharine Isabelle discussed their characters’ romance in the episode post-mortem video above.

Bryan Fuller discussed the episode with TV Guide, answering the big question I had as to why Hannibal surrendered, and discussed future plans:

This episode felt like a finale, and particularly brought back many of the emotions I had watching the Season 2 finale.
Bryan Fuller:
This was the breakup that we had been driving toward. One of the benefits of having two distinct chapters in the season is you get two distinct climaxes. This one had to serve as a stopping place for the story before it can be launched again next week three years later. So, this is the breakup, and when we pick up in the second half of the season, it’s that awkward moment when you have to see your ex again.

Will’s motivation has always been hard to read. Should we believe him when he says he wants Hannibal out of his life?
Fuller:
We come back to that moment in the final episode of the season and break it down between those two characters, and they address it themselves. Will is telling Hannibal, “I don’t need you anymore, I don’t want you anymore, I release you.” And Hannibal is saying, “No you don’t. You’re telling yourself that. You don’t want to know or think about where I am? I am going to give you the knowledge of exactly where I am and let that eat away at you for as long as it takes you to come back into my orbit, and I am patient enough to wait.”

Does Hannibal surrender to Jack out of spite towards Will or is he once again heartbroken? Does he no longer feel like playing this game without Will as a willing participant?
Fuller:
Will realizes that he can’t win and Hannibal can’t win. So, the only option for him at that moment is to stop playing. That, for Hannibal, is a huge rejection. It’s an even stranger rejection than the betrayal of Season 2 because Will has gone into Hannibal’s past and understands him better than ever. Will has realized that this is not an evil man, this is just a monster doing what he has always been designed to do essentially. So, he can’t give him any more energy. For Will, a magic door presented itself that he could step through and leave Hannibal and all of this behind him. But what Hannibal knows is going to come around again on the cannibal carousel is that that Will can’t live without him…

As Will predicted/suggested, Alana played an active role in Mason’s demise. What kind of impact will that have on her moving forward?
Fuller:
Once Alana made the devil’s bargain with Mason, it felt fated that she would play a role in bringing Mason down. In her mind, she always knew that she was going to stab him in the back one way or another. She put up with his ugliness inside and out for the purposes of capturing Hannibal, but she always intended to bring in the cavalry at the last moment. … We continue Alana’s shift into a less naïve, more hardened spirit in the Red Dragon arc. We see who she’s become three years later as a result of this pact and her relationship with Margot and this cabal against Mason. There’s a lot of bargains that were struck between various characters that, even though we’re picking up three years later, we still feel them resonating in the next arc of episodes.

And, of course, Hannibal reminded Alana that he always keeps his promises….
Fuller:
Yes, and that’s something we carry through into the Red Dragon arc. Alana is fully aware that if Hannibal gets away in any way, shape or form, he is absolutely intending to kill her.

Is this the last we’ll see of Chiyoh this season?
Fuller:
Yes. She told Hannibal that she was going to be his keeper. She was always going to be that angel in the bushes with the rifle making sure that no one further was killed by him. That’s the penance she’s willing to pay for 20 years of keeping a prisoner out of the interest of not taking a life. In essence, she’s saying to Hannibal, “I’m not going to cage you, but I’m going to serve as your jailer.” But as she’s watching the takedown of Hannibal, she realizes her job is done and she’s free, for the first time in her life, to go off and pursue her own life.

You mentioned that the next episode jumps ahead in time three years. How big of a reset should we expect?
Fuller:
It feels huge. We’ve leapt forward in all these people’s lives. Everyone is stained in their own way from the experiences of the first two and a half seasons, and yet everyone has a sobriety and they go into this new chapter with eyes open. But even so, they’re in for some horrible, horrible surprises.

Will it feel different tonally than the first half of the season?
Fuller:
It’s a slightly more grounded narrative than what we experienced in the first part of the season. So much of the first arc was all about the grieving process and also the trauma of what these people had experienced. I didn’t want to skip over what these characters were feeling, and that’s why so much of the first part of the season was contemplative and brooding and surreal. Everyone was in shock.

Red Dragonhas already been adapted into two different movies. How do you think your version will be different?
Fuller:
The version of Red Dragon that we are telling is very faithful to the literature with the exception of the relationship we’ve been building over the last two and a half seasons. Will and Hannibal’s relationship in the previous adaptations was nowhere near as wet and dark and sticky as what we’ve come to learn of the dynamic between the men in this version of the telling. So, to have Will and Hannibal truly possess a history together that informs their approach to the Red Dragon didn’t necessarily feel like an opportunity to change the story, but to provide many more layers of the tiramisu for the audience to enjoy.

(more…)

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SciFi Weekend: Daredevil; Hannibal; X-Files; Twin Peaks; Mr. Robot; Doctor Who

Daredevil elodie yung

Season two of Daredevil has started filming and will be available in April, 2016 Elodie Yung, who preciously appeared in GI Joe: Retaliation and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, has been cast to play Elektra (played by Jennifer Garner in the movies). Her appearance was foreshadowed by Foggy during the first season with a reference to a “smokin” Greek girl from Matt’s  past.

Marvel’s description of the character;

Yung will play Elektra, a mysterious woman from Matt Murdock’s past whose dangerous and exotic ways may be more than he can handle.

Jeph Loeb, Executive Producer and Head of Marvel Television, said:

“After a worldwide search, we found in Elodie the perfect actress to embody both Elektra’s impressive and deadly physicality, as well as her psychological complexity. Paired with Charlie as Matt Murdock, the two will bring one of the most beloved and tumultuous comic book relationships to life with all the accompanying sparks and spectacular action sequences the show is known for.”
Being released on Netflix makes it much harder to cover shows such as Daredevil in blog posts such as this, with everyone watching at different times, but the first season is highly recommended. While technically taking place in the Marvel cinematic universe, it is a much darker and grittier show, providing more variety in superhero styles.

HANNIBAL -- "Dolce" Episode 306 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter, Gillian Anderson as Bedelia Du Maurier -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/NBC)

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Dolce, got into Will’s head and ended Hannibal’s stay in Florence. Bedelia told Hannibal, “I knew that you intended to eat me. And I knew that you had no intention of eating me hastily.” She added, “I have not marinated long enough for your tastes,”but also acknowledged, “You may make a meal of me yet.” But the episode ended with both Hannibal and Will slowly being turned into a series of meals for Mason Verger.

Both Amazon and Netflix have passed on picking up a fourth season of Hannibal. Amazon was considered the best hope as they have rights to the previous seasons ,which also decreased the likelihood that Netflix would be interested. Besides the relatively low ratings, selling the show elsewhere is now complicated by the cast being released from their contracts and Bryan Fuller being committed to work on American Gods. Perhaps they could do periodic episodes when Fuller and key cast members are available similar to what is being done with Sherlock. There is also speculation that Hulu, Yahoo, or a cable network might consider the show. I still think the show belongs on The Food Network.

Trailer for the return of The X-Files in January, 2016.

The reboot of Twin Peaks is now being delayed until 2017.

Entertainment Weekly has teaser promos for season two of Fargo.

Mr Robot s01e03

The third episode of Mr. Robot helped alleviate any fears I had that they might not be able to sustain the quality of the pilot. The episode helped to make some of the characters more rounded characters. Elliot, briefly thinking he was free of FSociety, tried to act more normal. Gideon summed it up with the puzzled question, “Was he drinking Starbucks?” Angela, who previously was “too good for this world” was ready to infect her company’s computers with a virus when threatened by hackers. Shayla moved from drug dealer to girl friend. Tyrell Wellick and his wife are a very bizarre couple.

Doctor Who Arya Stark

The BBC has summarized what is known about next season’s episodes of Doctor Who. Guest stars include Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark on Game of Thrones. She will appear in Episode 5, entitled The Girl Who Died. The  trailer for the season was released at Comic Con and it was announced that the season will begin September 19.

More news from Comic Con to follow in another post.

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SciFi Weekend: Finales Including Last Man on Earth & Gotham; Marvel and DC News; New Shows, Returning Shows, And Cancellations

Last Man On Earth Finale

The Last Man on Earth started out strong (my initial review here) but it was apparent in the early episodes that the story would have to evolve over time. The initial stories with just Will Forte (Phil), and even those with the edition of Kristen Schaal (Carol), could not go on for very long. Unfortunately the series got bogged down way too long with a variation on a simple sit-com scenario. Will married Carol as, even though they thought at the time that they were the only ones left alive on earth, Carol insisted upon marriage before she would have sex with Phil. Soon after the marriage January Jones turned up, followed by others. Several episodes were centered around Phil trying to have sex with January  Jones, or later additional women who appeared, despite his hasty marriage to Carol. Plus Phil repeatedly tried too hard to make himself look good, and various forms of deception were repeatedly exposed.

In the finale, things got progressively worse for Phil, who even lost his name as a newcomer was also named Phil Miller, leading to the original Phil being called by his middle name, Tandy. With all the lies he told all season, he couldn’t think of a cooler middle name? Tandy/Phil found that Carol was even having sex with the new Phil, explaining that she insisted upon marriage initially as the plan was to repopulate the earth, but she had no problems with casual sex with the new Phil. Of course casual sex is exactly what Phil wanted.Later Tandy/Phil was literally driven out of town after it was revealed that he contemplated driving the new Phil out of down and abandoning him. He had tried the same with an earlier arrival, but he couldn’t go through with it and turned around and brought him back. Tandy/Phil was left with two days worth of food, which could have lasted until he made it to the next city. Phil ate it all in twenty minutes, but Carol anticipated this and showed up with additional food. After Phil convinced her that he now actually cared for her, and even wrote a song for her, Carol decided she would rather stick with the guy who didn’t have the heart to go through with abandoning someone in the desert, as opposed to the man who actually did this. The show nearly ends with the two going off together, leaving it open as to whether they will go off somewhere else or ever return to Tuscon. As if this didn’t leave things open enough, at the end we saw Phil’s brother, an astronaut stranded in space played by Jason Sudekis. This left the question of whether he would return to earth, which is certainly possible on this show considering how fast and loose the show plays with science.Will Forte discussed the finale with Entertainment Weekly and the short answer is that he and the other writers don’t really know exactly where they plan to go with these scenarios:

Where on Earth are Phil and Carol headed? And what does this mean for all of those other characters that joined the show later in the season? Forte cautions that the plotting of season 2 is in the embryonic stages, though he notes, “I have one idea that would be a really fun first episode. It is fair to say that you haven’t seen the last of the old new gang, despite Phil’s banishment. “Obviously we’re not going to not show Mary Steenburgen or Cleopatra [Coleman] or Mel [Rodriguez] or January [Jones] or Boris,” he says. “They’re so important to the show. There’s a lot of room for play and it opens us up to having some time where the characters are once again in a very desolate situation. We really want to open up the world and look at the starting up of a society again with just a small group of people and basic rules…. Phil is not allowed on the cul-de-sac right now. It is entirely possible that Phil and Carol could be living somewhere else for the whole season, and we’re checking in on the different people. But I would think that they would somehow rendez-vous at some point earlier in the season.”

Is Phil truly going to try this time to make a relationship with Carol work? “Is this just a situation of you want what you can’t have, or is he truly in love with her?” Forte asks right back. “That’s how we go into season 2. They’re still totally different people and they have such different world views, we still think it’s going to be really fun to see how they act as a couple. Not in any way would I ever compare it to this, but an Archie-and-Edith type situation, or Sam and Diane—that’s what you shoot for, these two different people who just somehow are together.”

When did Carol decide to stay with Tandy? While you might be wondering if she had a change of heart before she left the cul-de-sac— as she told him in the desert, “I don’t want to be with a man who can leave someone in the desert to die; I want to be with the man who doesn’t have the heart to go through with it”— that was not her intention when driving out to meet him in the middle of nowhere, according to Forte.In our minds, Carol came out to the desert just to give him supplies,” he says. “She had no clue that she would be ending up with him and it just kind of hits her after the song. When he told her about the song, she didn’t believe him immediately. He’s told her a million things. We edited the show a million different ways, and it used to be edited in a way that you really didn’t believe that he had written a song, so we put a lot on that song. You can tell that Phil actually took the time to write this song and was feeling very real feelings toward Carol. [Click here to read more about the song, which was written by cast member Mary Steenburgen.] It’s an impulsive decision that she makes and Phil even says, ‘I think you’re making a really bad decision here.’ But she’s willing to take the chance and Phil really appreciates that.”

Forte said that what  happens with Will’s brother comes down to whether Jason Sudekis is available. He left it open as to whether there will be new characters and whether much is said about the virus which killed almost everyone:

Will we learn more in season 2 about the virus that wiped out almost every single person on the planet? The short answer: Possibly. The longer answer: ”We’ve purposely avoided the virus stuff because we didn’t think that it was important,” says Forte. “And it’s tricky to handle virus stuff and how real should it be. What happens if a real virus becomes a problem around the world? There were a lot of pitfalls. We’ve always had this general idea of the type of virus that it was. We’ve said that it’s a virus that is potent enough to sweep across the world in a matter of months but one that is slow moving enough that allows people to safely crawl into their beds and die very neatly in their own homes. (laughs)… At some point in the pilot, we showed a dead body. There was a lot of back and forth, and it was decided that we shouldn’t show the dead body. We’ve always wanted to address that, so I really do feel like there will come a point where we address the virus. Even if it’s just an indirect addressing. When we still were going to have flashbacks in the pilot, one of the ideas we had was just a regular dramatic scene between two people wearing surgical masks and everybody around them is wearing surgical masks. They don’t ever talk about the virus—it’s just happening. I would love to flesh out the virus with little scenelettes like that, although they would have to be in flashbacks, because obviously everyone who was not immune to the virus has died.”

GOTHAM: Bruce (David Mazouz) looks deeper into his fatherÕs past in the ÒAll Happy Families Are AlikeÓ episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, May 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX

In other finales last week, Gotham appears to have gotten rid of some characters, most likely to open up room for more spectacular Batman-style villains. Fish Mooney appears to have drown, but there is talk that Jada Pinkett Smith might return. The big reveal at the end of the episode was a stairway which we know leads to the Batcave. Presumably next season we will learn what Bruce’s father did with it, and what  Bruce will do there as he is years away from becoming Batman.

Person of Interest ended with the situation looking bleak, but at least the Machine was saved for now. The Big Bang Theory ended with major changes for two couples. Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of SHIELD are heading towards big season finales next week, plus there are only two episodes left of Mad Men.

Entertainment Weekly has an interview with Joss Whedon and other producers on the tie-in between Agents of SHIELD and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The movie will also have an extended cut on Blu-Ray with an alternate ending.

Emily Van Kamp might have lost her job on Revenge, but she will be reprising her role as Agent 13 (Sharon Carter) in Captain America: Civil War. It actually sounds like most of the Marvel universe will be taking part. The movie will then set up the two part Avengers: Infinity War.

Jessica Jones

AKA Jessica Jones staring Krysten Ritter will be the next Marvel series on Netflix. A synopsis has been released:

Ever since her short-lived stint as a Super Hero ended in tragedy, Jessica Jones has been rebuilding her personal life and career as a hot-tempered, sardonic, badass private detective in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Plagued by self-loathing, and a wicked case of PTSD, Jessica battles demons from within and without, using her extraordinary abilities as an unlikely champion for those in need… especially if they’re willing to cut her a check. In this new collectible volume, go behind the scenes into the world that brings the story of Jessica Jones to life. Packed with stunning production photography, as well as exclusive interviews, this deluxe companion reveals the details of the set and script of Marvel’s AKA Jessica Jones through the eyes of its makers.

There has been a lot of news this week on renewals and cancellations. I fear that the DC shows on CW and now CBS (which owns CW) might be growing exponentially. First there was Arrow. Then the number doubled with the addition of The Flash. Next year this will double again as  CBS has picked up Supergirl, and CW will have the Arrow/Flash spin-off, now named DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Will we have to find room for eight or sixteen shows the following year?

A synopsis has been released for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which will be premiering in January:

When heroes alone are not enough … the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat — one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known?

I wonder if the time travel element will provide a way for Caity Lotz to return as the original Black Canary, or if she will play a different role. Incidentally time travel might be allowing for the return of a popular Doctor Who character who apparently died last season–Ingrid Oliver as Osgood.

The Marvel television universe is not growing as much as it originally appeared. Instead of the rumored spin-off of Agents of SHIELD, they will stick with this and Agent Carter will get a second season. I hope they do it the same way, putting Agent Carter in SHIELD‘s time slot temporarily, as opposed to adding yet another hour. Maybe CW will also begin to stagger their shows.

Constantine was canceled by NBC but there is speculation that it might be picked up elsewhere. The Mindy Project was also cancelled, with talk that it might be picked up by Hulu. Among other genre shows, Resurrection and Forever are both cancelled, and most likley neither will be resurrected and both are gone forever.

Fox has picked up some new genre shows including Minority Report and Lucifer.

Orphan Black and iZombie were  among the genre shows which recently received official renewals. Being busy this Sunday, I will hold of on discussing this week’s episode of Orphan Black until next week.

Grace and Frankie were released by Netflix on Friday. The handful of episodes I watched did look promising, and at this point I would rank it above Kimmy Schmidt, which received much more buzz. An incidental benefit of ent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Avengers, Batman, Big Bang Theory, Black Canary, Captain America, Constantine, Doctor Who, Frankie and Grace, Gotham, iZombie, Jessica Jones, Joss Whedon, Krysten Ritter, Legends of Tomorrow, Lucifer, Mad Men, Minority Report, Orphan Bla Grace and Frankie is that the major cast members have all been on Aaron Sorkin shows.

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SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD; Better Call Saul; Arrow; The Flash; The Americans; Outlander; 12 Monkeys; Orphan Black; Continuum; X-Files; Big Bang Theory; Good Riddance, Carrie Matheson

The Flash Rogue Time

It felt like almost every show I watched last week had major episodes. Agents of SHIELD went back to the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier and showed the origin of the other SHIELD. Will Nick Fury or Tony Stark settle this dispute? Better Call Saul revealed who was sabotaging Jimmy’s career all along. Arrow blew everything wide open with Lance arresting Oliver and Roy taking his place.  I’m undecided as to who I was more disappointed in, Captain Lance on Arrow or Chuck on Better Call Saul.

On The Flash, Rogue Time made changes in the timeline and had some major revelations, including  how Eobard Thawne took over Wells’s body. Andrew Kreisberg spoke with IGN about these revelations:

The father and son Trickster team proved themselves capable of wreaking havoc, and we likely haven’t seen the last of them, When asked whether the Trickster will be hanging out with the rest of the Rogues’ Gallery in the future, Kreisberg said, “Yes, that is the plan. When I sit down and I think about Wentworth Miller [Captain Cold] and Mark in a scene together and watching the dichotomy of them… I think sometimes there’s a tendency to spit out the same villain week in and week out on these shows, and for us, having people who are so different, and having people who have powers, and having people who are slightly unhinged but geniuses [keeps it interesting]. The other reason we really wanted to do the Trickster is because you have so many villains who have these amazing abilities, either because they’re meta-humans or they have this incredible weaponry, and what was always cool about the Trickster on both series is that he was smart. No matter how crazy he was, he was so smart, and he thought like four steps ahead. Watching The Flash and our team go up against somebody brilliant — a lot of times our shows are about how to figure out how to [stop villains] chemically or scientifically or how The Flash can use his powers to stop somebody, but in this one, they really had to out think him [Trickster]. And Wells had to give Barry something he probably didn’t want to let him know that he could do.”

Kreisberg also mentioned it’s a challenge to find and include adversaries who are worthy of fighting The Flash. “If The Flash can move at super speed, he can’t just be fighting bank robbers. Or if he is fighting bank robbers, they have to be able to do something pretty special. And again one of the reasons The Trickster — both in the comics and the old show, and hopefully people will think on our show — is so cool is because he doesn’t have any of that. He’s just really, really smart. And he’s able to use that smartness to out think the gang.”

Wells, or Eobard Thawne, is out thinking everyone. Barry is finally suspicious of Wells but has no idea about what we learned. Thawne used future tech to take Wells’s body. Kreisberg explained, “It’s what we’re calling genetic camouflage, where he basically stole his body. He basically took his body, he rewrote his DNA to match Wells’s. But what happened to Harrison Wells’s real body and what happened that night — all of these things are going to start coming out. And I know people were concerned that the events of Episode 15 were erased in 16, but what happened in Episode 15, not all of it went away, as people are going to find out soon.”

And as far as whether any part of Wells was left after Thawne swiped his body, Kreisberg said, “That’s actually something we’re just writing the other day. He’s had a lot of times when he’s talked about Tess and I think that one of the things that kind of bled through was Wells’s love for Tess, that Thawne absorbed when he absorbed his body. So that’s sort of a fun thing that that’s come through.” Kreisberg said they wanted Matt Letscher for the role of Thawne and that we haven’t seen the last of him…

Other changes include both Eddy and Snart, now knowing Barry’s secret, but after he went back in time the scene in which Iris learned it no longer happens. Some have been disappointed that two major events, Wells killing Cisco and Iris admitting her love for Barry, have been erased due to time travel, feeling it was a cheat. I did not mind because it was easy to predict this would happen once we say Barry going  back in time at the end of last week’s episode. The two scenes still told us more about both Wells and Iris. What we learned about Wells helped prepare for the events of Rogue Time, even if it is now Barry as opposed to Cisco who is likely to investigate Wells.  While it was hardly a surprise, the scene between Barry and Iris was a good way to make clear how Iris feels deep down. Barry should have realized that Iris would not feel the same when meeting for coffee as when it appeared the city would be destroyed before he changed the timeline.

It was also meaningful to show that Barry can make changes by going back in time, but that changes have consequences, with Barry thinking about going back in time to try to save his mother. One question is whether it is this time travel which actually leads to her death. The nature of time travel was also unclear on these episodes. When Barry went back in time and there were momentarily two versions of The Flash, what happened to the other version?

The Americans Stinger

Last week’s episode of The Americans,started early with a tease when Paige came to the travel agency:

Philip: “We were headed home in about an hour. If you help with the stack of ticket requisition forms, we’ll all get home a little sooner.”

Paige:  “Are you trying to turn me into a travel agent?

If only she knew the truth. After a wide range of dramatic scenes this season, the big scene of the season turned out to be a conversation around the dinner table later in the episode. During what Vox calls “one of the best runs of episodes in TV drama history” the inevitable moment came on Stingers. Paige, who was obviously realizing that there was more to her parents than being travel agents, finally asked the big question: “Do you love me? Then tell me the truth.  What — are you in the witness protection program? Did you kill somebody? Are you guys drug dealers like your friend Gregory? Am I adopted? Are we aliens? What?”

This left Elizabeth and Philip little room but to tell her the truth, although I’m sure that for a moment they considered going for alien drug dealers in the witness protection program. “We were born in a different country” We’re here to help our people. Most of what you hear about the Soviet Union isn’t true…We work for our country getting information. Information they couldn’t get in other ways.” Plus the obvious warning: “Just in case you’re not thinking quite clearly enough, we’re going to have to say this: If you do tell anyone … we will go to jail. For good.”

Phillip took the phone off the hook the first night, but beyond that all they can do is hold their breath and hope, even when Paige sees how easy it would be to say something to their neighbor Stan, the FBI agent. Instead it was Henry who bonded with Stan, over a pirated copy of Tron which Stan recovered and an old video game. Plus there is the other connection Stan does not know about–the picture of Stan’s estranged wife in Henry’s porn collection.

Of course a lot more happened in the episode. Oleg was called upon to obtain photos, having no idea how he was helping Nina back in the Soviet Union. Arkady assumed that the person who threatened Zinaida, who we finally saw is really is a faking her defection, was a KGB agent who had no idea what was going on, and had no reason to suspect Oleg. Over at the FBI, where the investigation regarding the bug in Gaad’s office is still underway, Stan was asked if he has any suspicions about who may have done it. He hesitated, and the first thing he asked after leaving was where Martha was.  Kimmy returned, partially to give Phillip reason to think about his relationship with Paige.

We will have plenty of time to see how all these story lines play out over time. FX has renewed The Americans for a fourth season.

outlander-reckoning-01-800

Outlander returned with a controversial episode, The Reckoning, in which Jaime saved Claire from Black Jack Randall but also punished her for being captured. This led to an eventual renegotiation of their relationship, including threats to cut out balls and hearts. More on the spanking scene here and here:

Executive producerRon Moore noted that although they had Diana Gabaldon’s book to work from, their focus was on “digging in to the scenes themselves, and the page, and working with the actors, and really wanting it to be as raw and emotional as it was. It’s the culmination of a lot of things that they just haven’t been sharing because [they were] in that magical ‘get to know you’ kind of phase. And then here [we thought], let’s have a real problem and really see them go at each other. It was a great opportunity.”

But the verbal confrontation wasn’t the end of the argument, as Claire discovered after the Highlanders began to shun her for putting them in danger and disobeying her husband.

While Heughan understood why the spanking scene might’ve been shocking or repellent to modern audiences, he was able to rationalize Jamie’s decision, given the time period and surroundings the Highlander was raised in. “He has to punish her, whether or not he believes in it. He says he doesn’t, but he has to because otherwise the Highlanders won’t protect her. She’s in danger. There’s a moral code, and it’s the way he’s been brought up, and he’s now got responsibility, and he’s trying to do everything that’s right. He’s trying to play that role and be responsible, and she keeps bloody messing with it,” he laughed. “And obviously, out of that, he learns a very valuable lesson, and she does, and their relationship is yet again developed and moved forward. And if he hadn’t, if he’d said, ‘I won’t punish you, it’s okay — it’s not the right thing to do, but you’re very naughty,’ then they wouldn’t have learned anything. And I think it’s interesting, because this relationship is just developing, and it’s like any marriage — it’s taking on different forms. It’s going to keep doing that. God knows where it’s going to be in a year’s time.”

Moore admitted that the producers and writers “talked about a lot” before the scene finally arrived. “I always knew we were going to do it because it was a key moment in the book and we wanted to do it. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s really about justice and that’s what Jamie says in the scene: it’s a scene about justice; it’s not a scene about domestic abuse; it’s not a scene about anger. These were the mores of the time. As he says to Claire, if she was a man, she would’ve had her ears cropped, or something worse. And so there was a sense of righting the scales of justice. To her mind and to ours, as 21st century people, we kind of recoil from it like ‘oh my god,’ but I think we also understand the context of the time and why he’s doing it and what it’s about.”

“We knew it was going to be a controversial scene that people were going to ask a lot of questions about,” Balfe conceded. “We really had a lot of conversations about it. We went back and forth with the writers about how they wanted to do it and what we felt comfortable with, but we had the blueprint of the book, which was great. But we really wanted to give it the respect that it deserved, because it’s not something that can be taken lightly. And the thing we always came back to is that we have to understand that, no matter how we as modern people perceive it, this has to be taken in the context of 1743, and this was a perfectly acceptable justice in that time.”

While the scene itself is memorable, it’s the aftermath that truly redefines Claire and Jamie’s relationship. “What happens after is very important because here we see two people figuring out how to make their marriage work, because not only has Claire suffered physical wounds from this, but there’s been a great psychic wound,” Balfe observed. “And I think that the betrayal she feels — that this man she’s fallen for with heart and soul has now betrayed her, in a sense — that’s a big thing for her to get over. But I think the thing they’re learning within the confines of their marriage is that you don’t always have to accept what the person does, but if you can understand where they’re coming from, then you can build a bridge to forgive and move forward. And he also realizes, ‘okay, I can’t treat you as everyone else treats everyone else in this time, and I’m willing to change, and to grow, and to meet you halfway.’”

Claire doesn’t forgive or forget easily, however — banishing Jamie from their bed and giving him the cold shoulder even once they’re back at Castle Leoch, until they finally confront their feelings and reconnect physically — allowing Claire to pick up Jamie’s blade mid-coitus and warn her husband that if he ever raises a hand to her again, she’ll cut out his heart.

12 Monkeys Paradox

While one weekend time travel show has just returned, 12 Monkeys is nearing the end of its first season (and has been renewed for a second). It is probably best not to think too much as to why a transfusion from young Cole caused the Paradox which saved his life, and appears to have permanently teathered him to 2015. I imagine we also shouldn’t ask Cassie why she felt she should threaten the 2015 version of Dr. Jones with a gun as opposed to showing her evidence which was bound to catch her attention.

As with most episodes of 12 Monkeys, this episode raised more questions than it answers. Apparently Jones knew about meeting Cole in 2015 all along. It appears that the events of this episode were events which always happened, as opposed to a change in the time line, such as with the now orphaned Cole meeting young Ramse. (What if Cole had just killed the kid?) This might suggest that things cannot be changed. Or maybe not everything is playing out the same for everyone. As Jones pointed out, “Your always and my always are not the same.”

While it appears that Cole will not be traveling in time in the foreseeable future, there are still events in 2043 to be sorted out. I have no idea what the red leaves mean, but they must mean something. Jones might still send someone back in time from 2043, or perhaps the time travel machine will fall under the control of those mysterious people seen at the end of the episode. We know Jessica is still around. Does that other woman know so much because she comes from the future. She looks like she might be Jessica’s mother– or with time travel involved, maybe her daughter, like River Song and Amy Pond. Any chance Ramse is still alive in 2043 as a very old man after his travel back in time?

There is still much to do in 2015 if Cole and Cassie are going to stop the plague from occurring in 2017, with Aaron out of that triangle for the moment. The connection between Cole’s mother and the Army of the 12 Monkeys will probably be significant.

Of course any comments on Paradox must mention Jennifer Goines’ hilarious hostile takeover of Markridge. How idiotic were those people who actually raised their hands when Jessica said, “Raise your hand if you want to be the new him!”

Orphan Black returns April 18 and new previews have been released. More clones to come.

The fourth and final season of Continuum has started filming and will start airing on Showcase on July 26th. No word as to when Syfy will run it in the United States.

Mitch Pileggi (Assistant FBI Director Skinner ) and William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man, aka Old Alec for Continuum fans) will both be returning to the six-episode X-Files revival.

Big Bang Theory TARDIS

This week was also a genre-heavy episode of The Big Bang Theory. One storyline dealt with Sheldon and Leonard taking a detour to attempt to visit the Skywalker Ranch while on their way to Berkley to give a talk about their paper. In the other storyline, the Wolowitz garage is being emptied for a sale, and Howard resists Bernadette’s efforts to sell his TARDIS. They decided to leave the fate of the TARDIS to a Game of Thrones-style contest on the battlefield of the Transformers and the Thunder-cats. I’m afraid you will just have to watch the episode to make any sense out of that last sentence, or to learn how Amy just didn’t think things through.

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Maureen Dowd says that real women working at the CIA are ready to say good riddance to Carrie Matheson:

THE co-creator of “Homeland” on Showtime revealed recently that when the new season starts, Claire Danes’s Carrie Mathison will no longer work at the C.I.A.

Her real-life counterparts can’t wait for her to clean out her desk.

The C.I.A. sisterhood is fed up with the flock of fictional C.I.A. women in movies and on TV who guzzle alcohol as they bed hop and drone drop, acting crazed and emotional, sleeping with terrorists and seducing assets.

“The problem is that they portray most women in such a one-dimensional way; whatever the character flaw is, that’s all they are,” said Gina Bennett, a slender, thoughtful mother of five who has been an analyst in the Counterterrorism Center over the course of 25 years and who first began sounding the alarm about Osama bin Laden back in 1993.

“It can leave a very distinct understanding of women at the agency — how we function, how we relate to men, how we engage in national security — that is pretty off,” Bennett said. She was sitting in a conference room at Langley decorated with photos of a memorial for the seven C.I.A. officers — including Bennett’s close friend Jennifer Matthews — who were blown up in 2009 by a Jordanian double agent in Khost, Afghanistan.

Agreed Sandra Grimes, a perky 69-year-old blonde who helped unmask her C.I.A. colleague Aldrich Ames as a double agent for the Russians after noticing that he had traded up from a battered Volvo to a Jaguar: “I wish they wouldn’t use centerfold models in tight clothes. We don’t look that way. And we don’t act that way.”

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SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Flash; The Americans; Community; Two SHIELDs; Victorian Sherlock; X-Files Closer To Returning; Sleepy Hollow Renewed; True Detective Hires Porn Stars

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Arrow and The Flash returned on CW (now the leading genre network), along with the premiere of iZombie. We don’t know all that much more about where they are heading with Ra’s al Ghul‘s offer to Oliver other than it will be difficult to refuse. The big surprise of the episode was of the apparent appearance of Shado in the flashback. If this is really her, maybe she dies again because of Oliver, giving Slade a better reason for blaming Oliver for her death than what we saw before.

The Flash did more to advance their storyline this week than Arrow in showing that, as has already been hinted, Barry can travel in time. We also learned the actual identity of Harrison Wells–a time traveler named Eobard Thawne. Major events of the episode included  Wells/Thawne killing Cisco plus Barry kissing Iris and revealing his secret identity to her. However, as we also saw that Barry went back in time to events earlier in the episode, either or both events could wind up being changed–especially likely as Cisco does appear in trailers for future episodes.

Screen Rant looked at events of the episode and how they related to the Flash’s powers in the comics.

The-Flash-Barry-Time-Travel-Discussion

The Hollywood Reporter  reported on a press screening in which  executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, Tom Cavanagh(Wells/Thawne)  and Candice Patton (Iris) answered questions:

How much will Barry fix?

Kreisberg teased that “the fun” of next week is seeing the ramifications of Barry’s actions and how they will change what viewers have already seen. Not everything will be undone by the time travel (though it’s safe to assume Cisco will be saved, as he’s been shown in previews for future episodes).

“This episode allowed us to sort of give people a tease and a taste and make some big reveals,” said Kreisberg.

Who is Eobard Thawne?

Wells confessed to Cisco that his real name was Eobard Thawne, and that he’d been stuck in the past for fifteen years. He called Iris’ boyfriend Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) a “distant” relative, which Kreisberg confirms was not a lie.

“There’s some great scenes coming up between Tom and Rick, that starts to become a storyline,” said Kreisberg.

The revelation puts to rest a fan theory that Eddie might actually be Eobard Thawne (AKA Reverse-Flash and Professor Zoom), who in comic book lore is a man from the 25th century who gets stuck in our era.

What does Wells want?

Wells killed Barry’s mother, but as he told Cisco, he actually wanted to kill Barry that night 15 years ago. Viewers do not know why Wells wanted to kill Barry, but at this point, all he cares about his getting home, though if he can kill Barry in the process that’s a bonus.

“Imagine if one of us was transported back into the past with no antibiotics and no internet and no indoor plumbing,’ said Kreisberg. “Every day in this time is an assault on him.”

Is Wells evil?

Kreisberg said Wells is not an “evil man” and that he even has reason to see “himself as a hero.”

“There’s nothing he says in that scene with Cisco that isn’t the truth,” said Kreisberg. “He’s sorry he found out. He’s sorry it has to happen, but it does have to happen and there’s a scene in episode 16 which kind of mirrors this scene, that I think really speaks to that.”

Cavanagh sees Wells as a man is just “trying to get home.” He has genuine affection for the STAR Labs team and their mission — at least while it serves his own purposes.

“As we see in this episode, it makes it a little more heartbreaking when the next phase of the plan starts to happen,” said Cavanaugh.

Will Iris uncover Wells’ secret?

Iris’ journalism mentor Mason (Roger Howarth) is poised to publish an expose on Wells, connecting him to a number of murders around town.

“For Barry, the wheels are turning for him, as far as what’s going on with Dr. Wells. Iris is going to continue to go after that story because Mason has piqued her interest,” said Patton. “For Barry, he wants to keep her out of harm’s way and this is directly putting her back into harm’s way by going into a situation with Dr. Wells that he’s not even quite clear about.”

What’s next?

Wells had future knowledge about these characters, and will start to share some of that knowledge. Episode 17 will also flashback to the beginning of the series, and show it from different perspectives, including Wells’.

“Toward the ends of the season, a whole bunch of new questions will pop up and that will drive the series forward. Most of the questions that we proffered at the beginning of the season will be paid off,” said Kreisberg.

If Thawne was really trying to kill Barry, was it young Barry or the Barry in our present?

The-Flash-Eobard-Thawne-Speed-Mirage

More at TV Line:

BREAKING THE TIME-SPACE CONTINUUM | Now that Barry has gone back in time, next week’s episode will deal with “how much of [what took place in Episode 15] still happens and how much of it might possibly change,” Kreisberg previews. As Dr. Wells pointed out previously, “there’s different versions of time travel. There’s the fixed loop and then there’s the version where time is more plastic and mutable. One of the fun things is discovering, like on Doctor Who, what’s a fixed point in time and what can’t be changed, what things always have to happen, and then what things are changeable and mutable. It’s a mixture of both.” That could spell bad news for Cisco — or good, if you look at it from the point of view of “Yay! He gets to live!” — because the episode explores “how certain events occur that prevent Cisco from following along the same trajectory” in his suspicions about Dr. Wells. Then there’s this question: Is there now a parallel universe with no Flash? “Is there?” Kreisberg replies coyly.

The Americans Divestment

While CW has become the leading broadcast network in terms of quantity of genre shows, FX leads as best non-premium cable channel with regards to quality shows. The Americans once again balanced several distinct plot lines going. While I would be perfectly happy watching any episode with Nina, there has been come complaints that her storyline back in the Soviet Union is no longer connected to any of the show’s other characters (other than for the indirect involvement with Arkady due to his family’s connections.) Fans of The Americans should realize by now that plot threads from past episodes can be picked up at anytime, with Nina suddenly involved with two characters from past episodes. Not only is she assigned to spy on Anton Baklanov, a scientist who was sent back to the Soviet Union in a previous episode, but she is working under Vasili, her former superior who she once framed. Best lines of the episode: “He’s the Minister of Railways.” “So next time I’m home I won’t be able to ride the train?”

The storyline involving apartheid in South Africa led to the third unforgettable scene of the series (after packing up Annelise’s body in a suitcase and home dental work on Elizabeth). However, while The 100, which also doesn’t hesitate to show death, would have killed off every character they could have plausibly kill off, outcomes on The Americans are less predictable, with Todd being spared. The possible recruitment of Paige moved ahead slowly, with Elizabeth explaining that activism is not as simple as being a criminal or not after Paige questioned Gregory’s history. The same complexity could apply to her profession.

Philip’s use of Martha has been a long-running storyline, but it has suddenly become much more interesting. In recent episodes there has finally been payoff on an event from the first season. Phillip, pretending to be Clark, tricked Martha into planting a bug in Gaad’s office. Now the bug has been found and Martha learns sees Walter Taffet, the actual person from the Office of Professional Responsibility who Clark is pretending to be. She has started asking questions, but Philip was prepared, such as with an apartment to take her to when Martha asked to see it. In this week’s episode, Divestment, Phillip was ready with a line about their relationship being real. At the moment this might be all Martha has to cling to, as opposed to prison or a death sentence for treason if it is discovered she placed the bug. If she is not careful she could wind up like Annelise, but she does present a real risk to Phillip. There probably was a reason for those scenes of her learning to use a gun earlier in the season.

Community Yahoo Premiere

Community returned with the first two episodes released on Yahoo Screen. As they were used to introduce two new characters, the stories were not among the best in the show’s history, but there were enough elements of the shows genius coming through. Abed went meta and assumed that Shirley was gone because of moving to a spin-off show. As NBC no longer does comedy, it is a crime show, and in a way he was right as we saw a glimpse of The Butcher and the Baker at the end of the episode. While it is a shame to lose another member of the original cast, the loss of Shirley, and earlier Pierce, is far less of a loss than the previous loss of Troy. Other highlights of the episode include the speakeasy and a rip off trailer of Gremlins, Knee-High Mischief from “Martelo Estrada Filme..”

In other major genre events of the week, things got even more complicated for Cole and Ramse on 12 Monkeys now that Ramse wants to preserve the timeline after finding he has a son. Tom Keene returned to The Blacklist. It was revealed that there are two SHIELDs. Is this for real, or a HYDRA trick? The other SHIELD is led by Edward James Olmos. Are Tony Stark and/or Maria Hill also involved? Perhaps they are real SHIELD agents, but Colson was chosen by Nick Fury himself.

Sherlock Victorian England

Teaser pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in 19th century clothes have been floating around for a while. Steven Moffat has confirmed that a stand-alone Christmas special of Sherlock will take place in Victorian England.

Fox is getting closer to going ahead with a limited run of The X-Files to tie up the threads left open. Making sense of that series by the end will be a huge challenge.

Sleepy Hollow was renewed for a third season, with a new show runner, Clifton Campbell. No word as to how many episodes.

True Detective has brought in a couple of porn stars, Amia Miley and Peta Jensen, for a major orgy scene. HBO already learned the benefits of using porn stars on Game of Thrones.

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SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; DC vs. Marvel Movies; SHIELD; Why You Should Watch The Americans; Big Bang Theory On Leonard Nimoy; The Last Man On Earth; The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; House of Cards and Hillary Clinton

The Orphan Black Season 3 trailer is above. Following is the official season synopsis for the third season, which starts April 18:

No sooner has Sarah caught her breath after a stealthy escape from DYAD and the ruthless clone Rachel (Maslany), she is called upon to face the crazed, captive Castor clone, Rudy (Millen). But it is the discovery of Helena’s disappearance that spurs Sarah into action, rallying her sisters in the quest to reunite their clone family, and find peace once and for all.

Their greatest threat is a band of highly trained soldiers – identical brothers dubbed Project Castor. Unlike the sisterhood, Mark, Rudy, Seth, Miller and others (Millen) grew up together, fully aware of who and what they are. Developed by the military, this wolf pack was raised as regimented clones – singular in thought, movement and allegiance. Hell-bent on kicking up dirt, they’re dispatched to tackle their mission from all sides. But differences in approach betray cracks in their armor, and may be the very thing the sisters need to escape their clutches.

The sisters will need all the help they can get. With Cosima’s fluctuating health and no known cure for the mystery illness that ails her, she is holding onto life by a thread while nursing a broken heart left by her scientist lover Delphine (Evelyne Brochu).  Can she find a cure in time to save herself and her sisters? As the turbulent world of Alison turns, she faces fresh suburban woes and new marital challenges with lovable oaf of a husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun). How far will Alison go to keep up the façade of her cookie cutter life?  Sarah’s torn between her desire for a life with daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler) and Kira’s father Cal (Michiel Huisman) and the urge to protect her foster family – loyal and feisty brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and mother Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). But Mrs. S’s betrayal may cause her to turn her back on the only mother she’s known.

The hits keep coming for the girls but their commitment to this new family is as important as ever. No clone can do it alone, and Sarah must align with unlikely bedfellows in order to take on what is yet to come… and hopefully, discover the truth – her truth – along the way. How far are they willing to go to save each other and protect their families?

More on the upcoming season at The Mary Sue

Superman Warner CEO Interview

There are a lot of superhero movies planned making some wonder if viewers will have sufficient interest.  Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara says that the DC movies will be edgier and more steeped in realism compared to Marvel’s movies:

“The key thing is that the movies and the television shows and the games, everything looks very different …you have to be able to take advantage of the diversity of these characters,” said Tsujihara.

Not everyone seems to agree. The comic book movie pile-up was the subject of numerous jokes at this year’s Oscar ceremony, and the eventual best picture winner, “Birdman,” is a satire of the craze for superhero films.

However, Warner Bros. is making a big bet that the comic book phenomenon won’t fizzle out just as the craze for disaster movies, biblical epics and other once-hot genres cooled off. The studio is using sister company DC Comics’ stable of masked vigilantes and villains to make roughly two superhero movies a year beginning in 2016 with the release of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” Other films include bigscreen adaptations of “The Flash,” “Aquaman” and “Shazam.”

The idea is to create a connected cinematic universe in which characters from one film interact with those from another, partnering, warring and creating super-teams such as the Justice League, DC’s answer to Marvel’s “The Avengers.” It’s a strategy that owes a lot to Marvel, but Warner Bros. chief Tsujihara stressed that characters like Batman and Deadshot are very different from that company’s signature Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America brands.

“The worlds of DC are very different,” he said. “They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies.”

The major DC comics programs were on hiatus last week and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returned. While Agent Carter was well-received, and people thought it was a good idea to use it to fill a hiatus in SHIELD if there is a hiatus, there have also been a lot of complaints that the hiatus destroyed the momentum of the show. It was also a bit confusing for those who were forgetting the events of two months ago, and haven’t been reading up on the significance of adding the Inhumans. Bleeding Cool has a good summary of six key events from the return of SHIELD, which might be especially helpful if anyone is a bit lost.

Saturday Night Live has coverage in the video above of the Avengers beating Ultron.

Chris Evans spoke with Collider about Captain America in Avengers: Age of Ultron. ComicBookMovie.com has more on the movie from Joss Whedon.

The Americans 69 Scene

The Americans continues to have excellent episodes week after week. Many critics agree that it is the best scripted drama which continues with the same cast from season to season, but very few people are actually watching. Many reviewers have pointed out that more should watch. Uproxx presents a good argument for watching which might get more attention than favorable critical reviews abut its smart story telling:

It’s a show about sexy spies doing sexy things, with wigs and intrigue and great music and a teenage daughter who isn’t Dana Brody and violence and 69’ing. Maybe that’s the problem. The Americans is too vague a title. For the rest of Season 3, and hopefully into Season 4, FX should start promoting the series as The Show Where Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys 69.

There really was such a scene–see picture above. Plus their daughter walked in on it. Maybe that is what drove her to going to church. Paige is still a much better television daughter than Dana Brody.

I have mocked NBC for trying to copy The Americans with Allegiance. It has been canceled after only five episodes.

Big Bang Theory Nimoy Tribute

The Big Bang Theory ended with a tribute to Leonard Nimoy last week. I couldn’t read the text as my DVR popped up the window asking if I wanted to save or delete at the end of the show. In case anyone missed it, I have obtained and posted a screen grab above.

NBC has announced that Hannibal will return on June 4. Zachary Quinto will be guest staring on an episode. I hope someone Slaps him.

There was a reason for all those rumors that Jenna Coleman was going to leave Doctor Who after last season, along with all those hints in various episodes. Steven Moffat has confirmed that Coleman did plan to leave after last season but was persuaded to stay.

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It feels like the number of quality sit-coms had dropped tremendously by last season. Then last summer we got You’re The Worst, one of the best ever. Three new sit-coms worth watching have premiered recently. I discussed The Last Man on Earth in a separate post here. Also worthwhile are Fresh Off The Boat on ABC and Netflix released the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Friday. The last was developed by Tina Fey, originally to air on NBC. It would have fit well on Thursday night on NBC with shows such as Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation. Now that all of the shows of this type are gone from NBC’s lineup, it is far more likely to survive on Netflix. Netflix also plans a second season, which will be produced without concern for the standards of network television. Tina Fey has claimed it primarily consist of shower sex.

Some have criticized The Last Man on Earth for being totally unrealistic, but the same can be said about many events in other shows such as House of Cards (as I’ll discuss in the future). If all the unrealistic aspects of Last Man On Earth bother you, pretend it is just a bizarre dream. Who knows, maybe that will be the explanation in the end. Regardless, it is funny enough to get away with an unrealistic view of how things would be after most people die of a plague.

As people are watching at different rates, I’ll wait a little longer to discuss Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt along with the third season of House of Cards. While avoiding any spoilers, I will mention that watching House of Cards did have me wondering who would make the worse Democratic president–Frank Underwood or Hillary Clinton. Saturday Night Live also tied Hillary Clinton to House of Cards in this skit, following her Nixonian email problems.

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

The Americans Nina Gulag

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

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

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

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

IGN: Oh yeah, it plays.

Flash Firestorm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lily James Matt Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mad Men 70's

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

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

“Bambi”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 100 Coupe de Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But do we get a second awesome mix tape?

AKA Jessica Jones

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

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

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

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

milo-ventimiglia-39156_380_280

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Psychology of Batman is discussed in the video above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SciFi Weekend: 12 Monkeys; Person of Interest; Arrow; The Atom; Gotham; X-Files Reboot; Hannibal; Man In The High Castle; Doctor Who; Torchwood; Selma and LBJ

12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys got off to a great start this week. The second episode is also available for streaming here if you have a cable subscription but I am writing this after only having watched the pilot episode which aired Friday. It was a strange concept which actually works. It began with an idea for a time travel show named Splinters (also the name of the pilot) which was altered to be a re-imagining of the movie 12 Monkeys. It somehow did work, altering many aspects of the movie in ways which will probably work better than the movie did as a weekly series. Considering both the many changes to the movie, and the pilot staring out at the beginning of the story, there is no need to have watched the movie to enjoy the show.

The basic premise is the same as the movie in that a plague has wiped out most of the human race, but in the television movie Cole is trying to actually stop this from happening, and the Army of the 12 Monkeys will be an important aspect rather than a red herring. This means that the entire theory of time travel is different. In the movie, the plague happened, time cannot be altered, and the goal is to go back in time to find information to help develop a cure in the future.

In the television series time can be changed. Not only does Cole believe he can stop the plague, he believes that when he changes time he will cease to exist. This is of no concern to him as he doesn’t see anything about his future worth preserving, with the human race appearing doomed to extinction. There are some aspects of time travel reminiscent of how it worked in Looper, except instead of a character losing body parts, scratching the past version of a watch causes the same scratch to appear on the future version. This gets a bit more confusing when we find that a character saw Cole in his past but Cole has not yet made the trip to 1987 referenced. This might contradict what was shown with the watch, but trying too hard to think about this only leads to”making diagrams with straws.” (That’s another reference to Looper, which seems appropriate considering that Bruce Willis played a time traveler in both Looper and the movie version of 12 Monkeys.)

It is a safe prediction that Cole cannot be successful in changing history, at least until the series finale, so the show must stand on how compelling the ride is. As in the movie, his relationship Dr. Railly is an important aspect. In the television show, she has a different first name and is a virologist instead of a psychiatrist. The show started out with Cole kidnapping Dr. Railly, but their relationship did improve from there. At times their relationship had a feel reminiscent of Ichabod and Abbie on Sleepy Hollow. Both Cole and Ichabod are characters out of their time and on mission which is of vital importance to humanity. Despite the importance of their missions, the little things provide the fun, such as Cole discovering cheese burgers with a reaction similar to Ichabod when discovering the wonders of modern times. Cole also noted that Dr. Railly looks like the women he has only seen in magazines, making her wonder which magazines he was referring to.

12 Monkeys2

The Hollywood Reporter discussed the changes from the movie and plans for the show with showrunner Natalie Chaidez.

In the 1995 film, the Army of the 12 Monkeys served as a red herring. Originally believed to have spread the virus that kills billions of people, the 12 Monkeys in truth were nothing more than an activist group, led by Leland’s son, Jeffrey, who freed zoo animals and locked Leland away in a cage for conducting experiments on animals.

With Leland dead, 12 Monkeys showrunner NatalieChaidez shed light on what the audience can expect from the television adaptation of the Army of the 12 Monkeys and the 2043 timeline.

“Who the 12 Monkeys are, what they are trying to accomplish, how they relate to time travel is the big question of the series,” Chaidez told The Hollywood Reporter. “Unraveling that mystery is our series journey. Knowing where Cole fits in their plan is a big part of it.”

The mysteries, however, are not only related to the 2015 arc. While the movie did not spend much time exploring the future dystopia, Chaidez is set to bring 2043 and the dangers that come with it to the forefront.

“In the series, we have the time to explore what was around those dark corners that we couldn’t peer around in the movie,” she said. “We really get to dig into how people survive in the future and how they are living. We have a group of people called Scavengers. They are the people who have survived but not always with the best morality. They’ve done what they’ve had to do.”

Opening up the world and traveling past the walls of the Temporal Facility also will be a big part of the series. “You will see a little bit of that in episode four, ‘Atari.’ It continues to build in the next few episodes, and we refer to it in a big way at the end of the season,” she noted.

No matter how deep the rabbit hole surrounding the mystery of the virus and the 12 Monkeys goes, Chaidez admits Cole’s struggle will not always be against one force.

“Are there other evil forces at play? Are there other collaborators? Certainly, but the 12 Monkeys are definitely the mysterious force that Cole wrestles with and battles against over the course of the series,” she explained.

Person of Interest Control Alt Delete

Control-Alt-Delete concludes the current trilogy on Person of Interest. It was an unusual ending if truly viewed as a trilogy, but putting aside the trivial matter of the structure of the trilogy, it was another excellent episode in a continuing storyline transforming the show from a procedural to a true genre show. Unlike the previous episodes in the trilogy, it concentrated on the character Control, with very little of Finch, and provided a view of Samaritan from the government’s view which we have not seen before.

I suspect that the key role of this episode isn’t really in completing a trilogy but as starting a transformation for Control. We saw more clearly that Samaritan is both dishonest and evil in its operation, such as with the manner in which it eliminated programers it recruited when they were no longer of value by telling government agents that they were terrorists. One of them asked Control to at least entertain the idea she was being lied to. At the moment she did not and shot the programmer, but she then went to investigate the scene of the shoot out in last week’s episode. She did find evidence that he area was freshly painted, suggesting a cover-up.

We have already seen major changes in which side a character is on in the series, and this has set up a natural progression which I believe will turn Control from an opponent to an ally of Team Machine as she realizes the harm which Samaritan poses to the United States. The currently futile search for Shaw also continued after the events of last week, and the possibility of an alliance with Shaw’s old partner, or at least a cessation of hostilities, was also raised.

There was also the return of the child avatar. I think the idea worked the first time, but now that the goal is to confront the president directly I would find it more realistic for Samaritan to utilize a different manner of communication.

Ray Palmer Felicity

Marc Guggenheim spoke with Nerdist about plans for an Atom spin-off series:

NERDIST: You just mentioned you’ve given some consideration to an Atom spin-off series…

MARC GUGGENHEIM: The thing that we’ve been talking about is just how do we further expand the universe; and we love Brandon and we love having him on Arrow.

N: He brings a new dynamic to the show in his scenes with Emily Bett Rickards’ Felcity, a kind of screwball comedy vibe.

MG: He does. When we met with Brandon, the whole point of Ray Palmer for us — not the whole point but a big piece of Ray Palmer — was… Felicity’s voice is of a different show and we always say that Emily’s playing tennis against herself. [Laughs.] So we wanted to create a character that could vibrate at her frequency. And Ray really brings that and brings that energy and he’s so much fun to write. He’s a joy to write. Brandon’s so terrific and embodies the role so well that when we talk about how to further expand things, he’s a natural person to talk about. It’s like Brandon said on the panel, originally when we met with him we just wanted to bring a great character onto the show and we wanted a great actor to play him. That’s really how it always starts. With the exception of Grant Gustin on Arrow last year, there’s never been a [decision] to bring in a character with the intention to spin them off. It’s always, “What services the show the best?”

X Files

Fox has renewed Gotham for a second season in a move which some will be happy about and others will question. They are also considering even more controversial moves, including a remake bring back 24 without Jack Bauer and  rebooting The X-Files.

Saturday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, Fox confirmed that the network hopes to reboot The X-Files the way it did with 24. The followup would star the original duo David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. So far they’ve just been talking logistics, and trying to match up everyone’s schedules. The actors both have commitments to other shows, with Anderson in a recurring role on NBC’s Hannibal (and likely another season of The Fall) and Duchovny also starring in the peacock network’s show Aquarius.According to Deadline, Carter hinted that the show might return in the summer.

I think that the more important question that must be answered before getting the cast together is whether there is a coherent story they can tell after the mess the series wound up in.

The third season of Hannibal will be adding Will’s wife Molly as a character. She will not appear until the eighth episode, which will have a time jump to allow for the changes in Will’s personal life.

The Seattle Times has a review of Amazon’s television version of Philip K. Dick’s novel, Man In The High Castle. It sounds like the television series should go well beyond the novel in developing this alternate history in which Germany and Japan won World War II. If interested in reading such an alternate history, another novel I’d recommend is Fatherland by Robert Harris. In his novel, instead of being defeated and occupied by Germany and Japan as in Dick’s alternate history, the United States and Germany both developed nuclear weapons and were in a cold war while Germany controlled most of Europe. HBO has also made a movie version.

There was talk earlier in the week that Netflix would be losing BBC shows including Doctor Who. A deal has been reached to renew rights for multiple shows including Doctor Who and Torchwood, however Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, MI-5 and Red Dwarf will no longer be available on Netflix as of February 1.

In related news regarding a couple of these shows, filming has started on season nine of Doctor Who. John Borrowman is working on Torchwood radio plays. He says that Russell T Davies and executive producer Julie Gardner are involved: “It’s the team back together.” Hopefully this is a step towards reviving the television series, without making the same mistakes as in the final season.

Maureen Doud‘s column this weekend is about seeing Selma. She did praise the movie but did object to both the Oscar snubs and to its historical inaccuracies about Lyndon Johnson:

In an interview with Gwen Ifill on P.B.S., DuVernay dismissed the criticism by Joseph Califano Jr. and other L.B.J. loyalists, who said that the president did not resist the Selma march or let J. Edgar Hoover send a sex tape of her husband to Mrs. King. (Bobby Kennedy, as J.F.K’s attorney general, is the one who allowed Hoover to tap Dr. King.)

“This is art; this is a movie; this is a film,” DuVernay said. “I’m not a historian. I’m not a documentarian.”

The “Hey, it’s just a movie” excuse doesn’t wash. Filmmakers love to talk about their artistic license to distort the truth, even as they bank on the authenticity of their films to boost them at awards season.

John Lewis, the Georgia congressman who was badly beaten in Selma, has said that bridge led to the Obama White House. And, on Friday night, the president offset the Oscar dis by screening “Selma” at the White House. Guests included DuVernay, Lewis and Oprah Winfrey, who acts in the film and was one of its producers.

There was no need for DuVernay to diminish L.B.J., given that the Civil Rights Movement would not have advanced without him. Vietnam is enough of a pox on his legacy.

As I have written about “Lincoln,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” and “Argo,” and as The New York Review of Books makes clear about “The Imitation Game,” the truth is dramatic and fascinating enough. Why twist it? On matters of race — America’s original sin — there is an even higher responsibility to be accurate.

DuVernay had plenty of vile white villains — including one who kicks a priest to death in the street — and they were no doubt shocking to the D.C. school kids. There was no need to create a faux one.

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SciFi Weekend: Person of Interest; The Flash and Other CW Shows; Agent Carter; Agents of SHIELD; The Returned; Mad Men; Star Talk; Neil Gaiman; Robert Crumb on Charlie Hedbo

Person of Interest Simulations

Often middle episodes of a trilogy can be weak, containing neither the set up or conclusion, but Person of Interest had no difficulty with the second part of their current trilogy. A show which deals with showing different versions of the same scenario might also be risky, but they certainly pulled that off well with If-Then-Else. Many viewers were aware that the episode might deal with the death of a character and they played with viewers in showing Finch get killed early in the episode. While the series has had one major character get killed in the past, it is a safe bet that Finch and Reese are safe, so it was no surprise that Harold’s death (along with a later sequence showing Reese get killed) were only a computer simulation as the Machine looked at every possible strategy.

I particularly enjoyed one way they kept the showing of different scenarios from seeming redundant or boring–the use of generic responses to speed up the dialog:

Reese: “Coolly delivered sadistic warning.”

Fusco: “Self-deprecating inquiry into the time necessary to infiltrate system.”

Root: “Funny, yet insightful retort.”

Finch: “Mildly agitated declaration of mission completion.”

Once the scenarios were evaluated, we had the “real” version of events, with a couple of  surprises. While one simulation had Root kiss Fusco, as it was just a simulation, the real version showed a progression in the relationship between Shaw and Root. It was not entirely clear to what degree Shaw kissed root out of romantic interest versus to startle her so that she could sacrifice herself to get the elevator rising.

Person of Interest Shaw Kiss Root

It is notable that the when the final shot was heard we did not see Shaw’s body, and we know that in the absence of a dead body we should never assume a character has really been killed. The previews suggest that at very least Team Machine believes Shaw is alive. Interviews with the producers and cast reveal some spoilers as to whether Shaw is really dead. From TV Guide:

While debate rages about whether or not Shaw is actually dead, she certainly won’t be appearing on POI in the near future. In fact, this entire storyline was crafted after Shahi informed the show’s producers she was expecting twins.

“Our fans think we’re sadists who like killing off our characters. In this case, we had no choice,” executive producer Jonathan Nolan tells TVGuide.com. “Our hands were tied. The circumstances of Shaw’s character and what she does — being a lethal operative who goes around the world and exterminates people and often puts her life in peril — kind of makes her irresponsible as a maternal figure on the show. Sarah was the first person to say, “There’s no way we can write this into the character,” and we agreed.”

So, is Shaw really dead? “You have to stay tuned,” executive producer Greg Plageman says. “The great part of doing a serialized show is that you have people waiting to find out what happens. We’d hate to spoil that for the audience, but there is a little bit of ambiguity about what happens after those elevator doors close.” As for how long that ambiguity will last, Nolan quips, “What’s the earliest you can put two twins on an airplane?”

Regardless of Shaw’s fate, the producers did give fans a huge moment between Shaw and Root (Amy Acker), as the much-‘shipped duo finally locked lips before Shaw’s heroics kicked in. “I directed their first scene together on the show, and it was abundantly clear to me that there was a great deal of chemistry between those two characters,” Nolan says. “So from the beginning, for me, that tension has always been there. We felt like the fans were invested in that relationship. You don’t feel like you can walk away from something like that without giving some kind of consummation.”

Person of Interest Root Elevator

Initially stories I read about Sarah Shahi leaving the show reported an expected two year absence, but Shahi left this more open in an interview with Entertainment Weekly where she talked about her pregnancy and the kiss with Root:

How did you break the news to the producers?
I just kept hitting them, like one after another. At first it was, “Guys, I’m pregnant,” and they were like, “Woah, okay, this is great, how far along are you?” And then: “Hey guys, just went to the doctor, I’m having twins.” “Woah! What! Oh shit!” So the whammies just kept coming for them. They’ve been wonderful about it, and they’re all fathers themselves so they understand what blessings children are, but it did take some adjusting. As far as the show goes, I do 99 percent of my own stunts all the time, so it took a little re-wiring in terms of what was safe for me to do, what was not safe for me to do. There are things that on paper didn’t seem like a stunt. When you’re carrying two human beings inside your belly, sometimes just walking or standing is a stunt.

Was there any conversation about writing the pregnancy into the show?
There were. Even through creatively I didn’t have anything to do with how Shaw goes, I just kept stressing that I wanted to honor her in every way that I could, and I didn’t want them to write me behind a desk. I didn’t want them to lessen Shaw’s abilities in any way because of my physical inabilities. I just kept stressing to them, please please please let’s honor her the right way. I still want to go balls out. Don’t hold back just because I’m pregnant.

What is the right way to honor her?
Her going out the way she did is pretty perfect for her. I always viewed this character as somebody who had a death wish on her. She’s such an adrenaline junkie and she’s got an appetite for violence. She will definitely put herself in that situation. It’s fun for her. If she doesn’t do that, she’s not living. She looked death squarely in the eye. She had a hint of a smile in her eyes. And then it just went to black. I think for her, that was the perfect ending. If Shaw could pick anyway to go, that’s the way she would want to go.

Tell me about that big kiss between Root and Shaw. Was that purely for the fans?
It’s funny because that was Amy’s first girl-on-girl kiss, whereas I’m incredibly experienced because of The L Word. I’m a veteran at the girl-on-girl! And Amy was kind of getting kissed all over that episode, between me and Fusco. Although I think she’d rather me than Fusco.

But yeah, to be honest, I felt like it was more for the fans. The one thing that the producers and I did kind of disagree on was they felt like Shaw knew she was going to die. She’s against ten Samaritan operatives, there’s no way she’s getting out of this alive, and that kiss was a goodbye kiss. Whereas I didn’t see it like that. I don’t think Shaw goes into any situation going, okay, I’m going to die today. I feel like the stronger choice is to struggle to live, and so I felt like that kiss was just like, “Oh, shut the f–k up already, Root!” I felt like it was more trying to calm down a pestering child, if anything. “Okay, fine, I’ll give you what you want, now be quiet.” Just one of those moments. But again, I also felt like it was more for the fans than anything….

So, the million dollar question once more: Is Shaw gone for good?
This episode is the second episode in a three-part series, and that is going to be the question moving on. That is what the team is going to have to figure out. Is she alive? Did Samaritan capture her? Where is she? The rule in TV is if you don’t see a body, then they’re not dead.

If hypothetically you did return and Shaw wasn’t dead, do you have an idea of your own timeline?
As far as my own timeline, it’s one of those things where you say that you’re having twins and you automatically see the fear of God in people’s eyes. Most people know what it’s like to handle one baby. There’s not a lot of sleep that involves just one baby. Then you add another baby to that equation and it’s just like doomsday. It’s going to be me for the next, like, two years. So to be honest, I have no idea. I’m trying not to think about stuff like that. But there’s no way—I’ve never had experience in this department before, so I can’t say at all, no clue.

SpoilerTV has a spoiler-free advance look at part three in this trilogy, Control-Alt-Delete, which does include the return of Camryn Manheim as Control.

Flash-TV-Reverse-Flash-Theories

There have been a number of teasers on Arrow and The Flash coming out of the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Among items of interest, it does appear that Tom Cavenagh’s character is the Reverse-Flash, as was suggested before the holiday hiatus, but he might not be the only Reverse-Flash:

Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg hinted that another person may be involved in the Reverse Flash mythology — namely Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). Fans have speculated that Eddie (whose name resembles Eobard Thawne, one of the aliases of Reverse-Flash in the comic books on which the series is based) will emerge as Reverse Flash in the series.

“His name is not an accident,” Kreisberg said Sunday. “Eddie’s connection to the Reverse Flash lore is going to pay off big time in the back half of the year.”

The DC universe will also be growing on CW. This includes another spin-off based on The Atom and there are plans for an animated series about Vixen taking place in the same universe.

The DC v. Marvel rivalry didn’t interfere with this discussion between writers and producers of both the DC and Marvel based television shows in this interview at The Hollywood Reporter. It was confirmed in this interview that a crossover between Supergirl (on CBS) with the CW shows is a distinct possibility.

CW has announced the renewal of multiple shows including Arrow, The Flash, The 100, and Jane the Virgin.

While the DC cinematic universe will be kept separate from the television universe, there will be overlap in characters between the movies. Viola Davis is rumored to have been offered the part of Amanda Waller in the Suicide Squad movie, with her character to also appear in other DC movies.  There are also rumors (and a denial) that Batman V. Superman will be split into two parts.

Agent Carter Poster

Agent Carter started out much stronger than Agents of SHIELD, hopefully indicating that Marvel has learned its lesson and will be doing a better job with its future television shows. Although set in the 1940’s, there were plenty of references to the Marvel universe. Besides frequently mentioning Captain America and including Tony Stark’s father, there were multiple other references. What Culture provides a list of 10 Easter Eggs.

Edward James Olmos of Battlestar Galactica will be appearing in a major role on Agents of SHIELD. Reportedly his character will have “massive repercussions” for SHIELD.

A date has finally been announced for the next Marvel television show. Netflix will be releasing Daredevil on April 10. The other planned Marvel shows on Netflix will be released approximately one year apart, with Jessica Jones, staring Krysten Ritter,  next in 2016.

Carlton Cuse is busy working with A&E, although not on original ideas.  One of his shows, Bates Motel, starts its third season on March 9. In addition he has a second show premiering with the network on the same day. He is doing an American adaptation of the French series, The Returned. This has the same basic premise as ABC’s Resurrection with people returning from the dead, but it is a totally different story. The American adaptation will also diverge from the French version after the sixth episode, and the second season will be entirely new as the French version only ran for a single season.

When Amazon included a show from Chris Carter, The After, in their pilots, there was mixed reaction. Some were excited, hoping for great things from the creator of The X-Files, while others remain wary of Carter after the way The X-Files deteriorated over the years. We will not find out whether he learned from his past mistakes on this series as Amazon has decided not to pick it up.

Mad Men Bar

AMC announced that the final episodes of Mad Men will start on April 5. Matthew Weiner has discussed the finale saying, “The last seven episodes, I would say each one of them feels like a finale in the show.”

Following an era filled with very polarizing finales, from Lost to How I Met Your Mother, Weiner says he is very cognizant of finding a balance between giving the audience what they want and best serving the overall story. “I’m extremely interested in what the audience thinks, so much so that I’m trying not to confound them, not frustrate and irritate them,” Weiner said. “I don’t want them to walk away angry. But I don’t want to pander to them. This sounds patronizing, but as the person telling the story, sometimes people have to be protected from what they want to see happen and the story has to have its own organic thing. You can’t just give them everything that they want. That said, part of entertainment can be catharsis. Bad things happening are considered a good thing in entertainment.”

Tonight Girls returns and there is the debut of a new comedy on HBO entitled Togetherness. The advance hype for the show has been making a big deal out of Amanda Peet appearing topless considering she is 42 years old. Personally I find seeing Amanda Peet topless, regardless of her age, to be far more desirable than to see more nudity from Lena Dunham.

Neil deGrasse Tyson will be returning to television in a weekly late night talk show entitled Star Talk.

neil-gaiman-trigger-warning

Neil Gaiman has a new book coming out entitled Trigger Warning which includes a Doctor Who short story. It is not clear if this is the same story which was previously only available in an ebook collection for the 50th anniversary.

Speaking of books and ebooks, Time and Financial Times are reporting that ebooks are going “out of fashion” but, even if they are correct, I question how they came to this conclusion. First they cite declining sales for ebook readers like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. I see three flaws in using sales of these devices to be a meaningful measure of reading ebooks. First of all, while some might upgrade to the newest versions, many people might still be using an ebook reader which was purchased over a year ago and have no reason to buy a new ebook reader. Secondly, tablets have come down in price so much that many people might be using tablets as opposed to dedicated ebook readers. Thirdly, as screens on cell phones have increased in size and screen resolution has increased, cell phones have become much better for reading ebooks. Personally I find myself using my phone more than ebook readers since upgrading to an LG G3.

Their second argument is an increase in sales of physical books, but increased sales of physical books could just as likely mean more people are getting ebooks as mean less are. It could be a sign of an overall increase in reading and book sales, with different people buying more of one or the other along with some of us who buy both. Generally when I read a book I’ll obtain both a hard cover copy for my library and to read when at home along with an ebook copy to have it available for either when away from home or to read on my phone or tablet in night mode should I awaken in the middle of the night and decide to read for a little while.

American cartoonist Robert Crumb gives a

The New York Observer interviewed American cartoonist Robert Crumb, who moved to France in 1991, about the recent killings at Charlie Hebdo:

Charlie Hebdo, they print so many insulting cartoons about Muslim extremists, you know, geez, they just kept at it, you know…but that wasn’t the only people they insulted, they insulted everybody. The Pope, the President of the country, everybody! They were merciless, to everybody. It was a really funny magazine. They just didn’t hold back towards anybody. You know, they didn’t let anybody off the hook, which was good.

What was your reaction inside when you first heard about it?

I had the same reaction I had when 9/11 happened.  I thought, “Jesus Christ, things are really going to turn ugly now.” That kind of thing, just like 9/11, it gives the government the excuse to crack down, to become very much more, like, you know, “Homeland Security” oriented.  And the right wing gets like this kind of like fodder for its arguments. The right wing here is very down on the Arabs. And France has an Arab population that’s like, 5 Million, something like that – huge population of Muslims in this country, most of whom just want to mind their own business and don’t want to be bothered. Those kinds of extremists are a very small minority. We have friends here who are from that background, you know, Moroccan or Algerian. And they just don’t want any trouble, and their kids are mostly even more moderate than they are.

Is there anything in the US in our history that comes anywhere near this tradition – the Hedbo tradition? If so, what would it be?

Underground comics, back in the 70s.  But today, I don’t think there’s anything like that now in the US. The thing about Charlie Hebdo is that it started in 1969. The gang of guys that worked for that magazine, they just kept at that for decades. Those guys are fairly old, you know, older guys most of them. There wasn’t a whole lot of, you know, 20- somethings or 30-somethings in that group. The cartoonists are mostly older guys. There is lots of critique of the left also. They say the left is hypocritical, bullshitters and opportunists, and all that. But generally I would say there’s a leftish sympathy in Charlie Hebdo. But they just came out with that every week. Every week. And people would just look at it and laugh, “Oh, you know those guys, those crazy guys.  They’re outrageous.”

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