SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Does Groundhog Day; Holodeck Technology On Discovery; The Orville; The Flash; Stranger Things; Doctor Who News

Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad  was the Groundhog Day episode of Star Trek: Discovery, along with featuring the return of Harry Mudd. This has become a common theme in science fiction, including the Next Generation episode Cause and Effect, the fourth episode of season three of Dark Matter, and the movie Edge of Tomorrow.

For these stories to work there will be someone who realizes what is going on, generally to learn from it. This version had two such people. Harry Mudd intentionally used the time loop to learn how to take over Discovery and what was special about it. Having Stamets be the only crew member to realize what was happening worked well in light of his connection to the spore drive.

Having become a common science fiction trope made it easy to progress the story rapidly with viewers understanding with only brief views of each repetition. Stamets first got Burnham’s attention by speaking along with her, knowing what she would say. That led to her telling him a secret which nobody else would know so that she would believe him the next time.

If I had any complaints about the episode is that once they established that they could make plans for the next time they had to progress rapidly off screen. By the final time they had multiple people involved and doing quite a lot for only thirty minutes. They did have a plausible explanation for beating Mudd, who took over essential systems but was defeated by the use of non-essential systems such as the Captain’s chair.

The episode ended with Harry Mudd closer to the situation we saw him in on the original show, stuck with his wife Stella. As much as he hates Stella, he did get off pretty lightly considering how many times he murdered Lorca and others. Of course in the final time loop he did not commit the murders and probably could not be convicted of those, he was still trying to steal a starship. Fitting into Star Trek continuity won out here.

We saw more daily life on Discovery, including a party which was much livelier than the typical party seen on The Next Generation. We Trying To Stay Alive fit in especially well. The episode progressed the relationship between Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler, except that they will not remember most of it. There were no clear clues regarding the theory that Tyler is actually a Klingon spy, but if he was I wonder whether he might have taken advantage of the situation to take control of Discovery and turn it over to the Klingons. Perhaps he has a longer game, influenced by the rivalries between different Klingon Houses. Another idea I had is that maybe when he had to give up everything, this included his memories. He might be a sleeper agent without realizing it, and will not regain his memories until a later date, allowing him to more easily fit into Discovery’s crew.

There was little development for Lorca. He did not do anything absolutely evil, but it was amusing to see how he differed from the typical Star Fleet captain in expressing how he did not care what was done regarding the space whale.

There have been some complaints about Discovery appearing to have more advanced technology than they should, including the holographic gallery on last week’s episode. One of the writers of the episode, Ted Sullivan, was interviewed by TrekMovie.com:

The holographic shooting gallery has spurred a lot of fan discussion, can you explain how the Discovery holographic gallery differs from a TNG era holodeck?

Look, they never physically interact with the Klingons. Yes, Tyler “hits a virtual button,” but you do the same thing playing Star Trek: Bridge Crew on the PS4. What you’re seeing here is a step toward the development of holodecks. It’s not a fully realized holodeck.

We talked about this a lot in the room. It’s honestly not that far removed from today’s VR experience. Are we supposed to pretend that technology just disappeared or stopped evolving? This is basically a high tech laser tag. And honestly – it was in The Animated Series. So I don’t get what the big controversy is.

Technology doesn’t just suddenly materialize overnight. You evolve slowly from punchcard machines to desktop computers to laptops to smartphones. What you’re seeing here is a step in the journey of the development of holodecks. That’s all.

That still leaves open the question as to why we never saw anything comparable on the original show. Presumably they had them but we never saw them.

The Monkey Cage column at The Washington Post discussed how The new ‘Star Trek’ has gotten darker and more pessimistic — just like our politics.

Last week we learned that CBS All Access has renewed Star Trek: Discovery for a second season and this week we learned that The Orville has also been renewed. I am glad that for a second year we will have two versions of Star Trek. One dark and one light. One closer to the original show, and one based more on The Next Generation.

Into The Fold could largely be one of those episodes of STTNG which concentrated on a limited number of crew members beyond the Captain. Being written by Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis certainly accounted for this feeling so much like such an episode. Humor also works best in episodes involving Isaac (as was the case on a previous episode). These scenes work best with Isaac as they seem less forced, with Isaac struggling to understand humans in a manner comparable to Data.

My favorite scene had Isaac, seeing Dr. Finn having difficulties with her two young children, advise her that on his planet “when a program is not working properly it is deleted.” He then offered to vaporize the children. By the end of the episode he was helping to save the children and even said he had grown fond of them.

Like on Discovery this week, we also saw the crew listening to music. Discovery won on this comparison, with the crew of the Orville listening to Barry Manilow. To be fair, this was actually Seth MacFarlane’s way to mock Manilow.

Just as this episode looks into specific characters. Screen Rant looked into the characters with a set of interviews.

Elsewhere on genre television this week, the Elongated Man was an excellent addition to The Flash. Screen Rant has background information on the character.

Legends of Tomorrow also had a fun episode, between seeing Zari join the crew and the time travel adventure to save Ray Palmer from being killed as a child.

The third season of Stranger Things is already in the works but probably will not be seen until late in 2018. The ending of the second season certainly left open many possibilities. There are many questions about events of the first two seasons (some of which are discussed here), but they also had enough of an ending to move on to different stories if they like.

One thing which made the second season so bingeable was how most episodes ended with a major event which led directly into the next episode. The one difference was in the controversial seventh episode, which had Eleven go off elsewhere. The Duffer Brothers have defended the episode against some of the criticism. Personally I liked the episode as it addressed the question of whether people with powers like Eleven would abuse their powers, providing Eleven with a means to confront the issue.

Stranger Things has multiple pop culture references. IndieWire has a guide.

In Doctor Who news, Jenny, the Doctor’s Daughter, is back, in a set of audio dramas from Big Finish.

I would love to see River Song meet Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. I don’t know if that will happen, but Alex Kingston will reprise the role and meet two additional Doctors in radio dramas.

Bernard Cribbin, who played Wilfred Mott, Donna Noble’s grandfather, has expressed interest in returning to travel with the Doctor when Jodie Whittaker takes over.

Dalek operator Nicholas Pegg has been fired for putting a crude message in a column he also wrote. The Mirror reports:

Under pen-name The Watcher, he launched an extraordinary attack on BBC Worldwide , which distributes the sci-fi show, and Panini, who publish the magazine.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Pegg has included a coded message in the current edition of Doctor Who Magazine.

The first letter of each sentence in his column spells out, “Panini and BBC Worldwide are c***s.”

The digital version of the page has been altered and Pegg will not be returning to either job.

SciFi Weekend: News From Comic Con Including CW Shows, Stranger Things, Star Trek Discovery, 12 Monkeys, Outlander, & Doctor Who; Briefs On Orphan Black and Other Current Genre Shows

There is a lot of news, and lots of videos, from San Diego Comic Con. Here are some of the highlights, with more likely to be posted next week.

The video above was released at the panel for The 100. TV Line has this information:

 “The prison ship [from the season finale] is from Earth,” Rothenberg revealed. “They’re from before the first apocalypse. They were in hyper-sleep for 100 years. They’ve come back to this planet that they don’t recognize. All that’s left is this Garden of Eden that Clarke’s been living in with her daughter.”

“It’s nice to be playing someone a little closer to my age,” Taylor said of the time jump. “It’ll be exciting to see her as a 24-year-old woman who’s been through so much, and is now taking on this maternal role.”

“Octavia doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing,” Avgeropoulos admitted, “but she doesn’t want to set off chaos with 1,200 people in the bunker. … You’ll see what her plan is to keep the peace and how she reprimands others in her own special way.”

“Raven is so special because she’s so smart,” Morgan said. “She’s a key ingredient in the mix for their survival. Her heart weighs on her a lot. The only reason everyone is in space is because of Raven.”

“All of us have to change up [in space],” Harmon said. “It’s freeing in a lot of ways. Over six years, a lot of therapy can happen. Murphy’s definitely going to change.”

“Harper is Monty’s main lifeline at the current moment,” Larkin said. “He owes her his life. She chose him. I don’t know if they’re still together. … Maybe Monty and Murphy are together. It’s been six years!”

New series regular Tasya Teles also arrived on stage to talk about Echo’s future: “I think about it a lot. Who will she become friends with? … I was thinking she’d get close to Raven for some reason. They’re girls who get things done. I see those two having an alliance.”

Rothenberg wouldn’t say whether any new couples have formed during the time jump, but he reminded us that “six years is a long time.”

Supergirl has new show runners, and it sounds like there will be more of Calista Flockhart. Entertainment Weekly reports:

Calista Flockhart will return as Cat Grant in the Supergirl season 3 premiere, new showrunners Jessica Queller and Robert Rovner told reporters ahead of the Supergirl panel at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday. She is expected to recur on the CW drama in the new season.

“The way that Calista appears in the first episode is really clever,” star Melissa Benoist told reporters.

Supergirl also intends to give up being Kara Danvers and be Supergirl full time, but I bet she changes her mind regarding this.

The trailer for The Flash shows a new team while Barry is in the speed force, with Iris left in charge. Caitlin Snow also appears to be back with the team, and the trailer does hint at Barry returning. SyFy Wire has this information from producer Todd Helbing:

According to Helbing, this season picks up six months after the events of the finale. Iris will be stepping up as team leader, trying to do what Barry told her to do. According to star Candace Patton, that means stepping back from her journalism career and taking over as leader of Team Flash at Star Labs. She’ll be playing a similar role to Felicity/Overwatch on their sister show, Arrow.

Wally will also be taking on new responsibilities this season as he goes from Kid Flash to just The Flash. That transition is a big challenge, though, says Keiynan Lonsdale. Wally’s relationship with Iris will also deepen as the two work through their respective grief over losing Barry.

And what about Barry? Well, it turns out we won’t be seeing him in the speed force at all, but we will see the effect the experience had on him. According to Grant Gustin, Barry spent his time in the speed force watching his life from start to end, and he’ll have much better insight into himself. He’ll also be a much lighter version of Barry in a much lighter season, a welcome reprieve from the darkness that has overtaken the show in recent years. Welcomed by both the audience and the actor. Gustin said Season 3 was hard on him, admitting that he sometimes went home and cried in the shower.

Helbing also stressed the lightness of the new season, saying they’ll also be taking a break from time travel this year.

The rest of the crew will be back too. Cisco will be further exploring his relationship with Gypsy this season, but he won’t be getting a new suit. Says Carlos Valdez, “My ass feels great in the pants.” Of course, the season won’t be entirely happy for Cisco. He’s feeling the loss of his friends and is working to bring them back.

Cisco isn’t the only one with romance in his future. Joe’s relationship with Cecile will also grow more. But, as always, Joe’s focus will be his children. According to Jesse L. Martin, while Joe is very proud that Wally was able to step into Barry’s shoes, he’s worried about all the pain Iris is going through.

Caitlyn fans, though, will apparently be the happiest of all this season. After succumbing to her Killer Frost instincts, Caitlyn ended Season 3 by leaving her friends to go soul searching, finding the balance between Caitlyn Snow and Killer Frost. Danielle Panabaker was particularly tight-lipped about what’s to come for her character, but she did say that she’s enjoying the opportunity to bridge light and dark.

Speaking of the darkness, what of this year’s villain, The Thinker? According to Helbing, he’ll be the big theme of the year. He did not elaborate, though, so anything beyond that will have to be left to the imagination.

Michael Emerson of Lost and Person of Interest will have a recurring role on Arrow next season, but there is no word about his role.

BuddyTV has this information on Legends of Tomorrow:

The quartet of villains who terrorized the group in season 2, The Legion of Doom is a large part of why Legends of Tomorrow was received so well in its second year. It is no surprise then then that in season 3, two of the four member of the group will make their reappearance. After the trailer which opened the panel, embedded below, the show confirmed that Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold and Neal McDonough’s Damien Darhk will be back.
Miller and McDonough will both be series regulars for season 3 but their characters won’t be exactly as people remember them. The Darhk of season 3 will less “silly” than the version from season 2. As for Cold, Dominic Purcell who plays Mick Rory, cautioned that the Snart of season 3 won’t be exactly be the same friend that Mick lost in season 1 (and to a lesser extent season 2).

While Miller and McDonough will stay on the show as series regulars, Arthur Darvill won’t be quite as prominent. The actor who played Rip Hunter, the team’s original leader, will still appear in season 3. Darvill will just be a recurring role rather than a series regular one, which is not that surprising since Rip did give up his spot on the team in the season 2 finale. Rip will still play a big part in the season as he is mentioned to have some big secret that he is hiding in the trailer.

E! summarizes Marvel news from Comic Con here. The trailer for Thor:Ragnarok is above.

A trailer for the second season of Stranger Things was released with this description: It’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are still reeling from the horrors of the demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

TV Guide has this information from the Stranger Things panel:

1. The Duffer Brothers wanted to do TV because it’s more like movies now. “We were big movie nerds, and we started to get into television as it got more cinematic,” Matt Duffer told the room, crediting shows like True Detective. They thought about what would be the best “long movie,” and decided a Spielberg homage was the way to go.

2. They knew what the title font should be, before they even started. Producer Shawn Levy credited the Duffer Brothers’ clarity of vision coming in to the project as the reason Netflix decided to take a chance on the unknown filmmakers, citing that they even knew what they wanted the now iconic title to look like from their first meeting.

3. More Will in Season 2! Will was offscreen most of last season, but from Schnapp we learned that not only will, uh, Will show up more, but he’ll be “braver” and we’ll learn more about how the Upside Down affected him.

4. Eleven had less lines, but a harder job. Millie Bobby Brown cited the difficulty of acting with a minimal amount of lines — particularly around “boys who like to play pranks.” But ultimately it was about concentrating, and feeling inside what needed to be expressed — and then letting that come through just with her facial muscles.

5. Hopper may be connecting with Eleven. Harbour stated that his character’s arc in Season 2 is definitely “very different” than it was in Season 1, and “it all begins with some Eggos he’s leaving in the woods.” The actor added that we know he has some daughter issues from Season 1, and that may play out in Season 2. Chances are, Hopper and Eleven are gonna team up, right?

6. Meet the new guys! Dacre Montgomery is playing Billy, Sadie Sink is Max (“a.k.a. Mad Max” quipped Keery), and Paul Reiser is Dr. Owens. Max moves from California, Owens may or may not be evil (though he’s definitely brought in to “clean up Dr. Brenner’s mess”)… And that’s all the info we got on the new folks. This show is a big secret!

7. The new trailer dropped! The new trailer showed off bigger monsters, Halloween costumes, some Michael Jackson music — and Eleven is back! You can watch it right here.

8. No, Barb is not coming back. The first audience question was from — surprise! — Shannon Purser, who played fan-favorite Barb on the show. She asked if Barb was coming back for Season 2, which was, sadly, a resounding “no.” That said, Season 2 will deal with Barb’s death, and give us some #Justice4Barb. “She will be avenged,” swear the Duffer Brothers.

More at USA Today.

Star Trek Discovery trailer. From ScreenRant:

Viewers are told in the teaser that Klingons have been submerged in chaos for a number of years, but are coming back to the surface for a battle against Starfleet. They also get their first look at Rainn Wilson in the role of Harry Mudd, and it’s revealed that the invention of warp drive will somehow also play into the series. It’s a lot to take in, but Star Trek fans will be thankful for it.

The trailer for the final season of 12 Monkeys was released last week with discussion at SDCC covered here.

The cast of Outlanders took questions at SDCC with video here. Deadline interviewed Ron Moore:

MOORE: It’s a transitional season. You know, the franchise kind of pivots from this point because, it’s not really a huge spoiler, but essentially, the show will relocate to the American colonies after this season. So they’ll always have a foot in Scotland, because there’s always a piece of the story that will continue to play out in Scotland, but Claire and Jamie and their family really do kind of relocate to North America after this season and establish a place called Fraser’s Ridge, which is up in the mountains of North Carolina — and that’s where the rest of the season in the books takes place.

So this is a really important year because it’s leaving sort of one setting, traveling literally across the Atlantic Ocean. You know, we went down and shot on the Black Sails ships and sets in South Africa to do that section of the story, and then end up in the Caribbean, and then eventually into the American colonies. It’s a big transitional year for this show…

Looking at some of the genre shows currently airing, Orphan Black is moving towards its end game, and had probably its goriest scene ever this weekend. There has been some real change for the better with Rachel, and change which I’m undecided about with Allison. Krystal Goderitch finally returned the previous week. (Was the actress who played her unavailable until then?) Recent highlights also include Cosima and Delphine at a strange dinner party on the island. Pictures of Delphine released before the season led to rumors that the two were getting married. While that did not turn out to be the explanation, there are still a few episodes left.

I hope that the writers on Dark Matter aren’t running low on original ideas. In recent weeks we’ve had their takes on Groundhog Day and The Mattrix. There are a lot of interesting threads being developed which will hopefully culminate in something great (and original).

Syfy has renewed Wynonna Earp for a third season.

Now that Game of Thrones is back we can explain the last election in terms which fans of the show will understand. We were spared having Cersci Lannister take over, but got stuck with Joffrey Baratheon. For those disappointed that we did not get a female president, keep in mind that should the earth fall under alien invasion after the regeneration to the 13th Doctor on Doctor Who, she will become the President of Earth to deal with the invasion (if Chris Chibnall keeps this rather silly idea from the Moffat era).

Unfortunately there have been some complaints about Jodie Whittaker being given the role of the thirteenth doctor. The BBC has issued this response to complaints:

Since the first Doctor regenerated back in 1966, the concept of the Doctor as a constantly evolving being has been central to the programme. The continual input of fresh ideas and new voices across the cast and the writing and production teams has been key to the longevity of the series.

The Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey and it has been established in the show that Time Lords can switch gender.

As the Controller of BBC Drama has said, Jodie is not just a talented actor but she has a bold and brilliant vision for her Doctor. She aced it in her audition both technically and with the powerful female life force she brings to the role. She is destined to be an utterly iconic Doctor.

We hope viewers will enjoy what we have in store for the continuation of the story.

It is impressive that the BBC has a site to take such complaints and that they do respond. It is less impressive that this casting decision about a fictional alien is bothering so many people.

There is help for those men who cannot handle a female lead despite having thirty-six seasons with a male lead, The Doctor Who Help Line. For those who don’t want to watch the full video above, the funniest lines include a man calling in saying he hoped that at least Jodie Whittaker will only be paid  seventy-nine cents on the dollar of what Peter Capaldi was paid, and a suggestion that she get her own show about a time traveling nurse. The BBC says that Jodie Whittaker will be paid as much as Peter Capaldi. At least as of now this will be her last appearance:

 “That’s it,” said Mackie. “The Christmas special is your last chance to see Bill. But I mean, hey, it’s Doctor Who, so never say never.”

The trailer for the Christmas episode released at SDCC, entitled Twice Upon A Time, reveals that, in addition to two Doctors played by Peter Capaldi and David Bradley, the cast includes Mark Gatiss and Pearle Mackie, returning as Bill.

Deborah Watling, who played the second Doctor’s companion Victoria Waterfield, died last week.

Update: More news from San Diego Comic Con here.

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

Doctor Who Heaven Sent

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

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

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

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

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

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

Constantine might also have further impact on Arrow this season:

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

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

Amell initially joked, “It’s not me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Sleepy Hollow; Arrow; SHIELD; DC Movie Plans; The Americans; The Blacklist; Scarlett Johansson Gets Superpowers; Groundhog Day;Death of the Rani; How I Met Your Mother Finale

Hannibal Murkozuke

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Mukozuke, had Jack Crawford viewing Beverly’s sliced body. Bryan Fuller described Hannibal breaking her down as being like how Beverly would break down a crime scene. Her murder had major effects on several characters, especially Will Graham who was driven to have Hannibal killed in revenge. He found a clever way to attempt this despite being incarcerated, finding his admirer who killed the bailiff (in an attempt to provide evidence that Will was not the Chesapeake Ripper) using Freddy Lounds.

This was a dangerous move on Will’s part as it could reinforce the idea held by others that Will is the murderer and Hannibal has been the victim of his slurs. I suspect that Will’s vision of dripping blood might represent realization that he was wrong to attempt murder. At least he was unsuccessful and does not actually have blood on his hands. Will didn’t even bother to tell others this week that Hannibal killed Grace, even when viewing her body in the restraints we were more accustomed to seeing Hannibal wearing in Silence of the Lambs,  presumably preferring that they figure it out for themselves. The preview from next week’s episode does suggest that Jack is starting to investigate Hannibal, and we saw in the season premiere how that will turn out.

I wonder if Hannibal will actually have more respect for Will for taking this action, and if he will take pride in being successful in driving Will to attempt murder (even if it had to be by proxy).

I was fearful that having Will in the asylum all season would limit his role, but episodes such as this show how he can remain fully part of the show. Having Abel Gideon as his asylum mate now presents yet another way for Jack to have significant dialog beyond being limited to FBI visitors.

There have been accusations of racism and sexism raised against Bryan Fuller due to the manner in which Beverly Katz was treated as an expendable character. Hetteinne Park, who played Beverly, defended Fuller here.

Sleepy Hollow Cast

News on the second season of Sleepy Hollow from PaleyFest can be found here. Among the news, it sounds like one of the cliff hangers at the end of the first season will not  be settled quickly:

There’s a New Sheriff in Town: Literally Orci teases, “There’s a new sheriff in town. Obviously, Irving has been discredited and now he’s been taken Upstate, so the Sleepy Hollow Police Department still has to be run by somebody and that person may not be as open as Irving was by the end of the season with Abbie and Crane. So somebody may be making their life very difficult.”

Orlando Jones is definitely not down with the new Sheriff, even making his own t-shirt, which said, “Free Frank Irving.” (Yes, he’s the best.)

There will also be fifteen or more episodes next season.

Arrow Birds of Prey

Jessica de Gouw returned as Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress on Arrow, tying up the storyline of the relationship between Helena and her father, leaving the character free to move in other directions. Caity Lotz was a second Bird of Prey as the Black Canary.

It appears that Laurel’s drug use has affected the powers of observation in Katie Cassidy’s character. Despite the two speaking while sitting as closely together as in the picture above, Laurel did not recognize that Black Canary is her sister Sara. It is a theme taken from the comics to have a tiny mask be enough to hide a superhero’s identity, but this was hard to believe in this scene. I also wonder if having the two meet is a first step towards Laurel ultimately becoming the Black Canary as in the comics, or if this something which the comics and television show will always differ on.

The episode also ended with quite a cliff hanger. More here, including why they killed off Helena’s father:

On why they killed Helena’s father:
Guggenheim: We definitely went into this with, “We’ve got to wrap up the whole Helena and her father storyline.” The one thing we were agreed upon in the writer’s room from the get-go was that Frank could not survive the episode. We had to end that story and close that chapter of Helena’s life so we could start a new chapter for her. … We definitely have an idea for a season 3 episode with the Huntress.

De Gouw: I think how this episode ends just puts her into a completely different headspace…and I think it’s opened up a whole new set of possibilities for her because she was so set on one path and now that it has been realized that that’s not what she wanted, it just frees her up for an entirely different life.

On whether The Huntress is redeemable:
De Gouw: I think most people are. And I think the place she’s at at the end of this episode, she’s certainly in a place where she can be redeemed…I think that it will be very interesting to explore her fighting for good or for very different reasons. But I think [she] definitely [is].

Amy Acker SHIELD The Cellist

The addition of Amy Acker as a regular has greatly strengthened Person of Interest, including on this week’s episode. Hopefully her presence, even if more limited, can also help Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. improve. Acker has been cast as Agent Coulson’s former cellist girlfriend, Audrey.

DC might have the best superhero television series on the air, but is far behind Marvel in big screen success. The New York Times interviewed Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who wants to be more aggressive in taking on Marvel:

The studio has been painfully slow to establish a slate of films based on DC Comics characters like Wonder Woman and the Flash, watching as Disney’s Marvel Entertainment churns out one superhero hit after another…

As for DC Entertainment, cross-studio collaboration to make better use of its comic book characters appears to have accelerated considerably since Mr. Tsujihara took over, in part because he eliminated some management layers. (He has not named a chief operating officer and did not replace Mr. Rosenblum and Mr. Robinov, choosing instead to divide up their duties and assume some himself.) Two new television shows are coming to the CW and Fox, including one based on the Flash and another on a young Batman, and a film series will be announced in the near future, Mr. Tsujihara said. It is expected to include a “Justice League” movie.

Underscoring his aggressive approach to the DC Comics universe, Mr. Tsujihara and Dan Fellman, Warner’s domestic film distribution chief, recently moved the studio’s untitled Batman-Superman movie — a hotly anticipated follow-up to last year’s “Man of Steel” — to a release date in May 2016 previously claimed by Marvel for one of its own films. It created an industry dust-up, and Marvel retaliated with a date change of its own. But the move sent a blunt message: Warner takes a back seat to no one.

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In other notable television moments of the week, Philip seemed really evil on The Americans when he sent the poor physicist home while Elizabeth did a great job smoothing over things with Martha. I do think that Phillip and the Mossad agent did have mutual respect for each other as each did what they knew they would do if in the position of the other.

On The Blacklist I was glad to see that once they revealed to the audience what we already suspected about Tom, they didn’t wait long to have Lizzie also figure out the truth about him.

Lucy

Scarlett Johansson gets superpowers in Lucy. From Entertainment Weekly:

Don’t do drugs, kids…unless said drugs transform your neurological makeup to give you superhero-level mind powers. That’s what happens in Luc Besson’s action thriller 
Lucy (out Aug. 8), starring Scarlett Johansson as a young woman who turns the tables on those exploiting her when experimental drugs give her hyperpowered ass-kicking abilities. “I love to see a woman as a very strong character,” says Besson (The Professional and La Femme Nikita). “It’s like cooking: sugar with a 
 bit of salt, and Lucy definitely can get salty.” Keep your eyes peeled for the trailer, which is scheduled to hit iTunes on April 2.

Groundhog Day

I don’t agree with all of Charles Murray’s Advice For A Happy Life, but I do agree with watching Groundhog Day:

The movie “Groundhog Day” was made more than two decades ago, but it is still smart and funny. It is also a brilliant moral fable that deals with the most fundamental issues of virtue and happiness, done with such subtlety that you really need to watch it several times.

An egocentric TV weatherman played by Bill Murray is sent to Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover Groundhog Day. He hates the assignment, disdains the town and its people, and can’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh. But a snowstorm strikes, he’s stuck in Punxsutawney, and when he wakes up the next morning, it is Groundhog Day again. And again and again and again.

The director and co-writer Harold Ramis, whose death last month was mourned by his many fans, estimated that the movie has to represent at least 30 or 40 years’ worth of days. We see only a few dozen of them, ending when Bill Murray’s character has discovered the secrets of human happiness.

Without the slightest bit of preaching, the movie shows the bumpy, unplanned evolution of his protagonist from a jerk to a fully realized human being—a person who has learned to experience deep, lasting and justified satisfaction with life even though he has only one day to work with.

You could learn the same truths by studying Aristotle’s “Ethics” carefully, but watching “Groundhog Day” repeatedly is a lot more fun.

Kate O’Mara, The Rani, died today. There was no regeneration. Above is a scene from Doctor Who: The Mark of the Rani from 1985. Besides her role on Doctor Who as a renegade Time Lady, she is also known for her roles on Dynasty and Absolutely Fabulous. She has had other cult television appearances on two British shows,  The Avengers and The Saint.

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Barney and Robin actually did get married last week and tomorrow we will find out if the fan theories about Ted and the Mother are true. I suspect we are in for a different surprise, which will be legendary. Above is the video of the cast of How I Met Your Mother on Inside The Actors Studio with the series finale airing tomorrow night.

SciFi Weekend: Valentine’s Day and Girls SciFi Geeks Love (About Time; Karen Gillan; Scarlett Johansson; Arrow; Almost Human)

SciFi Weekend is a weekly feature at Liberal Values, and is now being cross posted at The Moderate Voice. To introduce the feature to new readers, every week  this post generally deals with Science Fiction along with other topics. Sometimes, like last week, it is about a single topic (Sherlock Season 3). More often a variety of topics are discussed, typically starting with science fiction and genre television, but often including other topics in pop culture. Some weeks there is a theme. The theme this week is Valentine’s Day and Girls SciFi Geeks Love. Beware that there are frequently spoilers, especially for television shows which have aired in the United States. I do frequently leave out some details or only refer to them obliquely to limit this, and try to warn about spoilers when discussing movies or shows which have not aired yet in the U.S.

About TIme

This year we had not one but two major movies combining science fiction and romantic comedy. As I had already watched and blogged about Her, this left About Time to watch with my wife after we returned from dinner last night. About Time uses time travel much more like Groundhog Day than Doctor Who, except unlike Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, the protagonist of About Time can control which portions of his life he relives. The review does include spoilers.

On his twenty-first birthday Tim (Domhnall Gleeson)was told by his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family all have the ability to travel in time. There are limitations. You can only go back and revisit portions of your own life. As his father put it, you can’t kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy. Tim asked about the butterfly effect and his father told him he hadn’t run into it. To add some drama later in the movie, it turns out he wasn’t entirely correct here.

There are other limitations, including one standing in the way of Tim’s number one interest, getting a girlfriend. You can’t make someone love you. He failed in his first attempt with a girl spending the summer with his sister. He did later manage to meet Mary (Rachel McAdams) but the meeting was erased from time when he went back in time to help out a crabby playwright who he was briefly living with. There was no butterfly effect which destroyed civilization as we know it, but it is possible to change one’s past. It should surprise nobody that he did manage to meet Mary again, but had to go back in time to dispense with the boyfriend she met because of not meeting Tim.

From there time travel continued to come in handy. No more awkward first times in bed when for Tim it became the second and then third time after going back in time. It wasn’t even necessary to keep his first awkward attempts at removing Mary’s bra or meeting her parents. Minor mistakes later in their life, such as choosing the wrong best man, were also easily fixed.

Some problems were not so easily fixed. Tim found a serious problem in going too far back in time to help reverse a poor decision made by his sister, Kit Kat. Fortunately for Tim, his mistake was easily reversed, but he had to find another way to help his sister. Tim learned that time travel cannot fix all problems. Sometimes something terrible in life must occur to get people to change. If he was truly trying to help Kit Kat, he might have also bought her a comb.

The relationship between Tim and his father became as important to the movie as the relationship between Tim and Mary, even leading the two to once again break the rules, but this time with no dire consequences. Over time, Tim preferred a simpler form of time travel, moving forward in time day to day and fully appreciating every day. “The truth is, now I don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live everyday as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day. To enjoy it. As if it was the full final day. Of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” About Time is far from a hard science fiction look at time travel, but it was an enjoyable movie.

Karen Gillan’s romantic comedy, Not Another Happy Ending, is being released in the U.K. on DVD this week but there are no current plans for a U.S. release. Trailer above.  Iain De Caestecker of Agents of SHIELD (Fitz) is also in the movie. The actress who formerly played Amy Pond does not do any time traveling during the movie, but she does write and bake in the nude (more of that scene here). Update: Not Another Happy Ending will be shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival on March 19.

Scarlett Johansson is becoming the go to girl for sexy female leads when she is not in The Avengers movies. When they needed an actress to make it seem realistic for a voice alone to seduce the male lead, it was Scarlett Johansson’s voice used in Her. She is also the female lead in Under The Skin, playing an alien female who seduces men for sexual experimentation. Trailer above. It reminds me a bit of an early episode of Torchwood, back before the show got to be too big and they messed it up.

Doctor Who Both Hearts

If you missed buying a card for Valentine’s Day you might have to use Tim’s trick from About Time to go back and fix that. Or you can go back in your TARDIS, perhaps to use one of these cards.  For the last four years I have posted Doctor Who Valentine’s Day cards, with the latest set posted here.  Cards from 2013 can be seen here. Older ones also available from  2012 and 2011.

Heir to the Demon

I had not initially watched Arrow during its first season believing it would just be more CW fluff with attractive people in glitzy backdrops. At times it is, but as I later found out, it is far more. With a rich playboy crime fighter, and now the League of Assassins, in many ways it is one of the best live action adaptations of Batman ever made. Plus there are flashbacks to an island which might remind viewers of Lost. Still, it is on CW, so there is plenty of romance and love triangles in this superhero soap opera.

Before going on a brief hiatus for the Olympics, Arrow looked back at the triangle Oliver had with Sara and Laurel Lance, but things became even more complicated. In Heir to the Demon, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter managed to incapacitate airport security agents without any of the publicity and follow through which such an event would generate in our world. Her mission was to return Sara to the League of Assassins or to kill her, but it became clear that her mission would be more complicated when the two kissed upon first seeing each other. A discussion with the show’s producer over this turn of events can be read here:

With the introduction of Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) — Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter — hunting down Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) to bring her back to the League of Assassins, the stakes would have been high enough. But the show added another, more emotional level to Nyssa’s journey: She was Sara’s ex and wanted to win her heart again.

Of course, Nyssa ended up releasing Sara from her duty to the League when it became clear Sara would rather die than leave her family again. But watching Nyssa deal with the pain of that revelation was what made her one of the series’ best villains so far — a fact with which executive producer Andrew Kreisberg wholeheartedly agrees.

“It’s been pointed out that sometimes our villains get short shrift and we don’t always do right by the villains,” Kreisberg tells Zap2it and a handful of other reporters. “We just don’t have enough time for them because our show is just so dense. We’ve gotten away with casting really cool people in the parts and asking our audience to just fill in the rest.”

Kreisberg and fellow showrunner Marc Guggenheim are glad that they were able to give Nyssa enough of a backstory to make her a sympathetic villain. “I actually feel bad for her. She really does seem like this broken-hearted person who got the shaft,” Kreisberg says. “She has the advantage of having an emotional and personal tie to one of our characters. She goes on a complete journey from start to end as opposed to someone who just wants to rob a bank.”

Guggenheim is quick to point out, however, that “Arrow” can’t have every villain be like that. “If every episode had a Nyssa, and didn’t have let’s say a Clock King, when the Nyssas of the world showed up it wouldn’t have any import,” Guggenheim says. “It would lack the weight that this kind of episode has. Because some episodes, yes, it’s just a guy bombing the city, but there’s other stuff in that episode that makes it worthwhile and worth watching. If everything becomes special, then nothing becomes special.”

Law was excited to portray Nyssa, but she wasn’t expecting her to have such a rich history with Sara. “I was surprised that I was going to be a lesbian,” Law says with a laugh. “When we did the chemistry read, I wasn’t quite understanding why I was [with Lotz].”

According to Kreisberg and Guggenheim, the decision to make Nyssa a lesbian came from the idea of what it could do for Sara. “We thought of this at the beginning of the season,” Kreisberg says. “If you watch [episode] 205 there’s a reference to ‘the beloved,’ and ‘You think that’s going to keep you safe.’ We talked about, ‘Well, does Ra’s al Ghul have a son?’ And then we were like, ‘Well, can it be Talia?'”

Since Talia al Ghul was portrayed recently in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the writers decided to go with the lesser-known story of Nyssa al Ghul.

“It just felt like something new and different,” Kreisberg says. “At the same time, we didn’t do it to be salacious, because it’s a pretty chaste relationship from what you see onscreen. It just touched on a couple interesting things, like the idea that Sara found one person who treated her with love and kindness. And then for Lance to be this hardened, tough cop and probably not the most progressive guy, even he was just like, ‘I’m glad you had someone who loved you and took care of you during those nightmare years.'”

Nyssa wasn’t the only one getting action with Sara in the episode though, as it ended with her and Oliver (Stephen Amell) hooking up in the Arrow lair.

“We were anxious to have in the same episode where we reveal that Sara had had this lesbian relationship, she was also sleeping with Oliver again,” Guggenheim says. “We wanted to be sensitive and realistic. We specifically avoid using the term ‘bisexual’ because we didn’t want to label her at all. Let her be her own person, and if the audience wants to label, fine. We didn’t want to do something just to shock

Before this was all resolved, Nyssa kidnapped Sara and Laurel’s mother, played by Alex Kingston. I had half expected the Doctor to save River Song. It now appears that Amy Pond is the Black Canary’s grandmother. There is yet another triangle, as Sara joined Team Arrow and Felicity can wonder once again about what was going on over on that island between Oliver and all those women.

almost-human-season-1-episode-10-dorian-kennex

During most of the first season, Almost Human‘s best moments were its humor and the buddy cop relationship between the two male leads (one being an android). Unfortunately the last two episodes before its Olympic hiatus lacked the humor of previous episodes, but both episodes (Unbound and Perception) did more to flesh out the world the show takes place in. Perception returned to the events of the pilot and the relationship between Kennex and his probably-evil ex-girlfriend. Now that we now she is still tracking Kennex, there is the increased likelihood this will be used to find her and shed more light on what happened.

The episode also expanded upon the back story of Stahl, who turns out to be a genetically enhanced Chrome. Minka Kelley seemed almost too perfect on Friday Night Lights. She seems more plausible on Almost Human as being more than human, a character whose intelligence and beauty are the product of genetic enhancement.

Amelia Clarke of Game of Thrones was voted the Most Desirable Woman by Ask Men magazine. Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men came in second, with many other women in genre roles also on the  list.

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Two recent Canadian science fiction shows feature strong female leads. Syfy has announced that  Continuum, staring Rachel Nichols will return in the United States on April 4. Unfortunately this is after it returns on Showcase in Canada on March 16, making it harder to cover on line as I will definitely get a hold of each episode as soon as possible rather than waiting for it to air on Syfy.

Tatiana Maslany does an amazing job playing multiple roles on Orphan Black. Maria Doyle Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly that season two is like season one on crack:

That was just one of the tidbits Kennedy dropped when she stopped by Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) to chat about the show as well as her music career. Another tidbit? Looks like we can expect more Mrs. S in season 2. “You’re going to see more of her,” says Kennedy. “I had a great time in season 1 and there were some great scenes, but there was also a lot of hovering. They just really liked me so wrote me more this time, so that’s great.”

But on which side will Mrs. S. land in the war between Sarah and Rachel (both played by Tatiana Maslany)? Kennedy says her character’s ultimate objective is protecting Sarah’s daughter, Kira, whose whereabouts are currently unknown. “In the war between Rachel and Sarah and the whole idea about the clones trying to find out about themselves, she keeps going through that and beyond it and goes, ‘Where does Kira land in all this? What’s happening with her? How safe is she? Are they close to her? Can they get her?’”

Okay, but we still don’t quite know where Mrs. S stands and her connection to the clone conspiracy. Is she good, bad, or somewhere in between? “She is an incredibly pragmatic woman with a strong moral compass,” says Kennedy. “That’s how I feel about her. She has definitely done bad things in the past. She came through an era of protest and squatting, so she’s not afraid to be anarchic or against the law, but she always has a strong proper reason for doing what she does.”

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover 2014

Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge, and Chrissy Teigen appear on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Three girls would normally mean six bikini pieces, but apparently that would have put them above budget, forcing the models to pose topless. The theme is The Past, The Present and The Future. Is this another time travel magazine?

SciFi Weekend: Continuum; Sherlock; Arrow; Person of Interest; The Avengers; Better Call Saul; The Labyrinth; The Fall; Hannibal; Communty; Sleepy Hollow; Almost Human

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Collider spoke with Rachel Nichols about her role in the recently released movie Raze and then got to the third season of Continuum. She has some news here, such as that Season 3 will reveal more about The Freelancers. Beware there are spoilers as she tells what happens with the Season 2 cliff hanger in which Alec traveled through time. She reveals exactly where/when Alec went, which is one of the more common answers which people speculated about after Season 2 concluded. Not surprisingly, it is also clear that Kiera does get out of that cell she was dropped into.

Continuum has really become one of the best sci-fi shows on TV, right now.  What can you say to tease where Season 3 is going, especially with how ripped apart all of the characters were, at the end of last season?

NICHOLS:  We started shooting Season 3 already.  We got three episodes finished before Christmas break.  What I can tell you is that, at the end of Season 2, Alec (Erik Knudsen) clearly betrayed Kiera and went back in time.  At the beginning of Season 3, you learn a lot more about The Freelancers.  I can’t say how, but I can say that Kiera ends up going back in time to the point where Alec went back in time to save Emily (Magda Apanowicz).  So, suddenly there are two Alecs and two Kieras and we can’t run into each other, obviously.  Right off the bat, in Season 3, you’ve got craziness ensuing.  There’s a death.  There’s a description of The Freelancers.  I’m happy to say that Terry Chen is back, in a big, big way.  And overall, for this season, what I’m feeling is that where Kiera was always about getting home before, acknowledging her impact on the world, with everything she was doing in the present day, now I think there’s a part of her that’s going to be relegated to staying here and really setting up life and knowing she’s going to be here for awhile, and maybe even wanting to.  That will be a back change for her, given the fact that her family is in the future. 



Teasers from Showcase and SciFi above.

sherlock-season-3-eps-2-promo-trailer-and-2-featurettes

Sherlock returns in the United States this weekend, but as the show already completed the season on BBC One I wonder how many fans are still unaware of what happened. I will avoid any spoilers here and have a few comments leading into the series. The first two episodes are written far more than other episodes for the fans, but would not be good episodes to start with for those who are not already fans of the series. Start with the first two seasons. At very least watch last season’s finale and cliff hanger before the first episode of this season, The Empty Hearse.

The second episode, The Sign of Three, is about a very difficult task for Sherlock and doesn’t start out seeming like a typical episode at all. It is the weakest of the three but if you stick with it you will find that there is a mystery, and the events brought up earlier turn out to really matter. Quite often this season, things are not as they seem.

The third episode, His Last Vow, is the best of the three, and some reviewers have called it the best of the series. It is a more conventional mystery. Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads Mikkelsen of Hannibal, makes a fantastic villain, and there is a huge cliff hanger. Make sure you watch until the very end. I’ll hold off until it airs in the United States to discuss speculation about the cliff hanger.

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Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim told Entertainment Weekly about upcoming plans for Roy:

After being injected with Mirakuru in the mid-season finale, the first episode back, airing Wednesday night, will explore the benefits — and consequences — of his newfound strength. “We’re going to learn starting with episode 10 that the Mirakuru may give you incredible strength and it really may accelerate your healing, but it comes with some very significant mental downsides as well,” teases executive producer Marc Guggenheim. “And Roy will be experiencing those in the present, and Slade in the past [via flashbacks] will begin to develop those difficulties.”

Guggenheim adds that as everything about Roy’s current predicament becomes clearer, we’re also going to see how it affects the people around him — Thea and Oliver included. “We always said that this year, Roy is going to go through a crucible. And the Mirakuru [storyline] is basically that ordeal and for sure when he comes out the other side — if he comes out the other side — he will be a different person and set on a different path,” he says. “You will start to see that as early as episode 12.”

It’s part of the longer story the writers are telling with Roy, explains Guggenheim, one that shows him going “from being sort of the street urchin we met in episode 15 last year to somebody who could potentially inherit the Arrow’s mantel as Roy Harper did in the comic books. We’re never really driven too much by what we call the comic book destinies of characters, but we’re very much aware of them and we’re very much aware that we’re telling a Batman Begins-style story for all of our characters. And obviously the Mirakuru and what Roy will experience in the wake of episode 9 is a big part of that Batman Begins-like story for him.”

Some additional points were discussed:

+ Have they decided what they’re doing with Flash in episode 20?
Not yet. After it was decided that the Flash pilot would stand alone — rather than being part of the 20th episode of the season — plans had to change, said Guggenheim. But the official plan is still in the works. “We’ve had a lot of afferent internal discussions of how episode 20 basically becoming an Arrow episode instead of a backdoor pilot could operate in terms of the connection to Barry. But we haven’t come to a decision yet, so we’re not ready to talk about it yet,” he said.

+ Will Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) continue to have tension over Barry?
Yes. And you will see more of it in Wednesday night’s episode. “One of our pet peeves is when a show does a backdoor pilot and the episode that follows it tends to ignore what happened in the backdoor pilot. And episodes 8 and 9 served as the introduction of Barry Allen, and it struck us as wrong not to acknowledge everything that happened in those two episodes, particularly in regard to Barry’s burgeoning relationship with Felicity,” he says. “So a good chunk of the emotional real estate in episode 10 is spent on Felicity’s reaction to Barry being electrocuted at the end of episode 9 and being struck by lightning.”

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Guggenheim also discussed Slade with The Hollywood Reporter:

In the winter finale, Slade declared that his sole mission was to turn Oliver’s world upside down. Has Slade turned pure evil, or is there some redemption for him?

What a great question. I will say that I don’t think anyone on our show is pure evil. We always try really hard to write according to the axiom that everyone is the hero in their own story. In other words, in real life, even the most evil people think they’re doing the right thing — at least, through their own lens through which they view their world. Slade is taking actions that he feels are very justified and thus in his mind, he’s not pure evil, he’s not even evil. He’s just a man with a very serious vendetta. For us, the advantage of doing it that way are even our antagonists are grounded and realistic, and I think they’re made more compelling when their motivations are made more human than the comic-book trademark “pure evil.” That’s just as true for Slade as for any of the villains on our show.

Hypothetically, if Oliver were to find out about Slade, how do you think he’d take the news?

I can tell you that hypothetically, were he to find out that Slade is alive and kicking in Starling City, Oliver would not take that well. (Laughs.) And I guess I can spoil and say that it is just a matter of matter of time before Oliver discovers that Slade is in Starling City. We actually have a whole episode and a whole storyline devoted to Oliver’s reaction to that news. I won’t tell you what episode that is.

He was also asked about Sara:

Will Sara come back into the fray in the modern day? Will she come face to face with Laurel?
It’s probably not spoiling anything to say that it’s only a matter of time before Sara returns to modern-day Starling City. We’ve already made the decision as to when and how and why exactly all that [Sara coming face to face with Laurel] will happen. When, over the course of the next 13 episodes that happens, I’m not saying.

So, it appears that Oliver will figure out what is going on with Slade, but still not figure out that Sara is not the same girl he last saw on the yacht in the Season one pilot, with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood’s scenes later reshot with Caity Lotz.

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While both series had already been excellent, there are two shows I watch which have become even better this year: Arrow and Person of Interest. In early episodes, Person of Interest was often just a procedural with the machine used as a gimmick to get the leads into the action. Over the last couple of seasons the series has evolved more into a science fiction show about the surveillance state. The Nerdist discussed how the show has become our reality:

Person of Interest is unique in the world of procedural dramas. While plenty of shows have been able to claim they’re ripped from the headlines, POI has the distinction of being able to say it predicted them. As The New Yorker points out, the show predicted Edward Snowden a year in advance with its episode “No Good Deed.”

Is is worth reading the entire article on this show by Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman now that the show has become increasingly relevant. Another passage:

Nolan and Plageman are on the same page as to where this data mining will lead: the singularity. “The cornerstone of the show is that out of this arms race of information technology that we’re now thoroughly engaged in,” said Nolan, “cyber warfare, which was a silly idea, a silly phrase fifteen years ago, is now an absolute reality and quite terrifying in its own way. This is definitely the moment we find ourselves in and our idea was that out of the kind of carnage of this aggressive information arms race you might well see the emergence of something that probably in hindsight we’ll see was an Artificial Intelligence. It’s probably going to emerge out of the NSA or out of a data call center like the one the New York Times profiled. It’s either going to be a sales tool or it’s going to be a spy tool.”

With the audience now fully on board with the Orwellian nature of the show, Plageman says his fake world collides with the real one more than he thought it was going to. “On the show,” Plageman responded, “even though there is this science fiction aspect, there’s a heightened tone to the show – we always try to ground that. We always try to use technology that is in existence. That’s actually here and material. So, I’m always surprised when we talk about something in the writers room, whether we’re talk about AI or Ray Kurtzweil and the singularity. Then all of a sudden he’s hired at Google and you’re like, ‘Wait a minute.’ That’s just ridiculous. We’re talking about this now and you see these things converging and you’re going, ‘Okay, what’s that going to look like?’ [Amy Acker’s] Root is, to a degree, an acolyte of Kurtzweil, and all of a sudden he’s in the hen house. There’s this non-stop drum beat of material coming our way; We’re even struggling to keep up with to a degree.”

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Scarlett Johansson spoke with Parade about Her and about reprising her role as Black Widow in Avengers 2:

“Oh boy! Well, we can expect the Avengers. Joss [Whedon], again, is back, wrote the script, and is directing. I think the script is dark and it’s dry, it’s got this amazing one-liner, glass-cutting sense of humor. Obviously the script is very cerebral. It doesn’t lose that exciting comic book aspect that people enjoyed in the first film, but it’s smart and it feels like the next installment. It doesn’t feel like a rehashing, it feels like these characters are moving forward, plotlines are moving forward. It’s deep and I think that’s why people really respond to the Marvel universe, because the films are fun and exciting and have all that flashy stuff, but there’s a gravity to them. People can expect that gravity this time around.”

Aaron Paul says that both he and  Bryan Cranston are interested in reprising their roles in the Breaking Bad prequel/sequel Better Call Saul.

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The CW Network has obtained the US rights to show The Labyrinth

The CW Network has acquired LABYRINTH, the four-hour event miniseries with a multi-national and award-winning cast, including John Hurt, Sebastian Stan, Jessica Brown-Findlay & Tom Felton, it was announced today by Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW. Premiere night and time will be announced at a later date.

Filmedon-location in the medieval town of Carcassonne in southwest France and Cape Town, South Africa, the historical miniseries jumps back and forth between modern and medieval France as it follows the lives of two women who are separated by centuries, but united in their search for the Holy Grail.

In Carcassonne, France, in the year 1209, 17-year-old Alaïs (Jessica Brown-Findlay, “Downton Abbey,” “Misfits”), is given a mysterious book by her father; a book which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alaïs cannot understand the book’s strange words and labyrinth symbols, her father instructs her to protect the book no matter what happens to him. Alaïs realizes that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe. Eight centuries later, at an archeological dig in the French Pyrenees, a young volunteer named Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby, “The Hour,” “Great Expectations”) discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave. Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realizes she’s disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past – Alice’s own past – has been revealed.

In addition to Brown-Findlay and Kirby, LABYRINTH features a multi-national cast which includes two-time Oscar(R) nominee, three-time BAFTA Award winner and Golden Globe(R) winner John Hurt (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”), Sebastian Stan (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Gossip Girl”), Tom Felton (the “Harry Potter” films, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), Oscar(R), BAFTA and Golden Globes(R) nominee Janet Suzman (“Nicholas and Alexandra,” “Midsomer Murders”), multi-award winner Claudia Gerini (“The Passion of the Christ,” “Under the Tuscan Sun”), Katie McGrath (“Merlin,” “Red Mist”), Emun Elliott (“Game of Thrones,” “Black Death”) and Tony Curran (“The Pillars of the Earth,” “The Adventures of Tintin”).

It would have been better if this was being shown on premium cable so that it wouldn’t be necessary to cut the nude scenes with Jessica Brown-Findlay and Katie McGrath which are in the original version. I wonder how many people will wind up downloading the show as opposed to watching on CW.

In somewhat related news. the sex scenes in the movie version of Fifty Shades Of Gray are being toned down compared to the books.

Season two of The Fall, starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan starts filming in Belfast in February. The first season of the the BBC mystery, also released simultaneously on Netflix, was excellent. Filming will be delayed a month as Gillian Anderson has been tied up with filming for Season two of Hannibal.

Entertainment Weekly has more news on Season two of Hannibal:

1. Will Graham is in prison and everybody thinks he’s guilty: Fuller brilliantly subverted audience expectations at the end of season 1 by having FBI profiler Graham (Hugh Dancy) framed for Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelsen) crimes when fans expected the show to follow Thomas Harris’ novels and have the cannibal psychiatrist end up in prison (he’ll get there, we assume, eventually). Graham hasn’t magically been released between seasons and he isn’t going to pop back into his old job after one episode (unlike, for instance, Patrick Jane on CBS’ The Mentalist). Graham is also going to be a much more focused and proactive character this season now that he’s no longer suffering from encephalitis and knows he’s not crazy. He’s going to actively try to get himself released, or at least take down Hannibal.

2. Hannibal has Graham’s old job: With Graham in prison, now the FBI is relying on Hannibal even more to help solve crimes, so we’ll get plenty of scenes of the serial killer working to catch other serial killers. “Hannibal becomes the new Will Graham in many ways,” Fuller teases. “There’s a lot of fun seeing him interact with the FBI.”

3. It’s still surreal, though more clear: Hannibal‘s haunting surreal imagery is a signature of the show and will continue. But with Graham no longer ill, he’s a more reliable narrator, which helps ground the storytelling a bit more.

4. Gillian Anderson is back: Anderson reprises her role as Hannibal’s psychiatrist. Expect this season for her character to grow suspicious of her most mysterious patient. “She’s doing a really fun closer examination of her patient and figuring some things out for herself, and that’s dangerous for anyone,” Fuller says.

5. The opening scene of the premiere. Though I suspect it will be widely reported before airing (Hannibal‘s TCA press tour day is Sunday, where it will probably come up), I can’t bring myself to reveal this. I’ll just say it’s the best scene the show has done to date.

6. The murders are more grotesque than ever: You thought that human mushroom farm was unappetizing? Just wait until you see “the beehive”…

7. Mason and Margo Verger are in this season: Fans of the books know the story of Hannibal’s tragically doomed wealthy patient and his sister from the Hannibal novel. They will be introduced later this season and have not yet been cast. Yet another major character from the canon, Francis Dolarhyde from Red Dragon, will likely not come into play until season 3.

A musical version of Groundhog Day is in the works. I loved the movie but am not sure about a musical. Will we have to sit through the same songs over and over?

Community had one of its better episodes last week with Cooperative Polygraphy, showing what Dan Harmon can accomplish with just the group sitting around the table for the almost the entire episode. The episode also concluded the storyline for Pierce, despite him not appearing, and revealed how Troy will be leaving the series. Plus we had this great line from Britta, after finding that Jeff kept her underpants and made up the story of a hawk stealing them: “You exploited me…and made me believe in a slightly more magical world!”

I’m looking forward to the two-hour season finale of Sleepy Hollow this week. Monday nights on Fox shows the advantage of a genre show having a continuing storyline and a strong mythology. Given the premise of the two shows, I’d expect to be far more interested in the harder science fiction of Almost Human. While I do enjoy it, the lack  of signs (so far) of the story really going anywhere have made Sleepy Hollow the show I more look forward to. Next season Fox plans to run Sleepy Hollow uninterrupted  without dividing the show up as it did this year.

Bush Approval Moves To New Low While Clinton Solidifies Her New Base

It’s the headline which keeps repeating: George Bush’s approval has fallen to a new low. One might think they were caught in Groundhog Day until they looked at the numbers and saw that each time it is another new low. His approval has fallen to a new low of 31 percent in the ABC News/Washington Post poll. Eighty-two percent feel the country is on the wrong track.

In other polls of interest, Gallup finds that “38% of likely voters saying McCain’s association with Bush makes them less likely to vote for McCain, while 33% say Obama’s association with Wright diminishes their likelihood of voting for Obama.” Even though his association with Bush is a definite negative, I stick by my recent post advising Democrats upon relying on identifying McCain with Bush to defeat him. Gallup also finds that ” a majority of voters in both questions say the personal association will not affect their vote either way.”

As expected, playing the race card has paid off for Hillary Clinton as the polls show she has strong leads in West Virginia and Kentucky. Her new base is not helping nationally with Obama moving out to a seven point lead in Gallup’s daily tracking poll.

SciFi Friday: Time Travel Edition

The theme this week is time travel, with the most significant occurrence being on Heroes. If there is anyone who watches this show only intermittently, this is an essential episode. As we saw previously, Hiro goes back in time to try to warn Charlie the waitress from going to work the day she is to be murdered. He winds up six months in the past, giving the two plenty of time to fall in love, but it turns out that Hiro cannot change the past. Apparently he is limited to returning from the future with messages such as “Save the cheerleader, save the world” but is limited in what he can actually accomplish in the past.

What was particularly ingenious about the writing of this episode is that besides seeing what Hiro did six months ago while in the past we also saw the other characters and learned a lot about many of them. The most interesting was how Chandra inadvertently caused Gabriel the watchmaker to take the name Sylar (off a watch) and begin killing many of those on his list.

While Hiro could not change the past, we learned that reality can be changed on Daybreak, which is sort of a cross between 24 and Groundhog Day. The protagonist relives the same day in which he is framed for murder, but each time he lives the day he investigates different clues and learns more about the people in his life. This week’s episode showed that how he interacts with others can even affect how they behave subsequent times the day is relived.

How I Met Your Mother isn’t technically science fiction, but it takes place in the future as the stories in our present are told as flash back (even if Ted does tell far more about his dating life than most of us would ever tell our kids). Last season ended with Ted using his force of will to get the universe to make it rain in order to advance his plans with Robin. That’s all enough for me to classify it as sci fi/fantasy, but the criteria here is a bit lax. I’m including this week’s episode since we get a glimpse of the future (or past from the perspective of the narrator).

How I Met Your Mother takes place in a parallel universe where Neil Patrick Harris, rather than being gay, is obnoxiously straight as Barney. This week we meet Barney’s brother James who is both gay and black. We never learn how Barney has a black brother (not buying the explanation based upon flavor of ice cream his mother ate while pregant) but that isn’t the real mystery. James has many of Barney’s attitudes despite never experiencing the life changing experiences seen in a previous flash back of Barney’s life.

Perhaps this came from Neil Patrick Harris, but the episode had a great line to turn around the usual attacks on gay marriage. Barney is upset to learn that James is planning to marry because, “Once the gays do something, everyone will start to do it.” He fears that gay marriage, rather than harming the institution of marriage as right wingers claim, will harm the singledom he worships. James marriage sets up the view of the future. We see the characters one year later at the wedding and learn that Marshall and Lilly are married. Ted and Robin dance together, but are they still together? They show too much single stamina (explained earlier in the episode), and when asked if they are going home they answer separately.

Getting back to Heroes, there are a couple of interesting additions to the cast planned. George Takei (Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu) is going to play Hiro’s father and Christopher Eccleston, who has played time traveler Doctor Who, will also become a regular. Speaking of Doctor Who, Captain Jack, who has been given his own spin off, will be returning briefly.

Lots of SciFi fans wish they could practice time travel to at least view next year’s episodes of several shows. Jericho has followed Lost’s lead in going on hiatus until winter after managing to throw multiple cliff hangers into the last few minutes of this week’s episode. Heroes is doing the same after next week.