SciFi Weekend: Emmy Award Surprises & Snubs; Mr Robot Returns; Community Movie; Sherlock; Fargo; Outlander; Doctor Who

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The Emmy nominations came out this week, and I think they did a much better job than most years. The full list of nominees can be found here. Common problems in previous years included failing to recognize new shows, snubbing genre, and keeping old favorites in the nominations even when shows were beyond their prime. Last year they finally made up for snubbing Tatiana Maslany for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and she was nominated again this year. The biggest correction this year was finally recognizing The Americans–not only for Outstanding Drama Series, but also recognizing its stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell.

While it took four years for the academy to give The Americans the recognition it deserves, another good surprise was that Mr. Robot received nominations, including for the series and for star Rami Malek. As with Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black, it is hard to picture Mr. Robot working without Rami Malek. On the other hand, they did snub Christian Slater, who won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his work on the series. Perhaps the Emmy Awards don’t recognize characters who are a figment of another character’s imagination.

It was also a pleasant surprise that Master of None received nominations including for the series and for star Aziz Ansari. Ansari might have benefited from his work on 30 Rock, while another 30 Rock alumni, Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) missed out her first year but was nominated this year.

Beyond the additions of The Americans and Mr. Robot, the Outstanding Drama Series category was fairly predictable, including Homeland and Downton Abbey remaining beyond their best years. Of course the Emmy’s have also been more likely to include a show or star when they are in their final year, so I was not surprised that Downton Abbey was included. If they must include a show which Damian Lewis was at one time connected with, I would have chosen Billions over Homeland this year.  The biggest snub this year of a show which deserved to be included was Jessica Jones. Similarly, Krysten Ritter and David Tennant deserved nominations for Best Actress and Supporting Actor. The series was nominated for some minor awards but it is hard for genre shows other than Game of Thrones to receive the major nominations.

The Outstanding Comedy Series category includes several worthy shows, along with continuing to nominate Modern Family out of inertia. I would have included Catastrophe and You’re The Worst before Modern Family.

Fargo deserves another nomination for Outstanding Limited Series, but this year I would give the award to The Night Manager, which also received nominations in additional categories. A miniseries was the best way to handle a John le Carré novel. While the same can also be said of other novels, whenever I have seen a movie based upon one of his novels which I have read I would feel disappointed by how much had to be left out.

Mr Robot Eliots Room

Mr. Robot returned with two episodes last week. One question when watching is how much is true and how much is Eliot imagining. I noticed that when the episode showed his routine, whenever he was by a television Barack Obama was on live, throughout the day. That aspect was obviously imagined, even if he really saw Obama at one point. How much of the rest of the day, or where he is living, was imagined?

TV Guide looked at one theory that everything was imagined, noticing how much his room looked like a cell in containing only a bed and a small table, his mother seemed like a guard, his meals with the same person could have been taking place in a prison cafeteria, his meeting across the table with Gideon looked like a prison visit, and the use of a wall phone as opposed to a cell phone looked like a prisoner talking on a prison phone. These, and other examples, could mean that Elliot was in prison, or perhaps a mental hospital. The knock on his door at the end of season one could have been when he was apprehended. However, there were also suggestions that the FBI is pursuing Elliot, which might argue against  him already being in prison, unless he is relating events out of order.

Community

Dan Harmon says a Community movie will still happen, although from this report it sure doesn’t sound like we will see it anytime soon (if ever).

With  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman both becoming such big stars, Steven Moffat wonders if he will be able to continue Sherlock beyond the fourth season.

Channel 4 has renewed Catastrophe for seasons three and four. Amazon will stream them in the United States. Amazon didn’t stream previous seasons until after they were on Channel 4 so I bet I will wind up downloading them as opposed to waiting.

I would watch season three of Fargo even if it stared all unknown actors, but the addition of Carrie Coon (Leftovers) is a huge plus.

In follow up of my review last week of the season finale of Outlander, Vulture has some spoilers as to what to expect in the third season.

Digital Spy looks at the rumors of Matt Smith returning to Doctor Who and gives reasons why they do not believe they are true.

Next week we will have a miniseries of the absurd, The Republican Convention. The schedule of people you don’t really want to see speak is listed here.

SciFi Weekend: Person of Interest; Orphan Black; American Gods; Game of Thrones; Outlander; Arrow; David Tennant; Captain America; DC Rebirth; iZombie

"Sotto Voce" -- The mysterious criminal mastermind known as "The Voice" returns, trapping Reese and Fusco in their own precinct with several armed gang members and the latest POI. Also, Root makes a shocking discovery, on PERSON OF INTEREST, Monday, May 30 (9:59 -- 11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Michael Emerson as Harold Finch and Amy Acker as Root Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

With only three episodes to go, Jonathan Nolan was free to do almost anything for the 100th episode, and he did. Major spoilers ahead. Those who were behind this season might not even have been aware that Elias was still alive but in hiding. His actual death this episode was overshadowed by the far more significant death of Root. At least she lives on in some manner with the Machine choosing to make her voice her own.

TV Line discussed the episode with Jonathan (Jonah) Nolan and Greg Plageman. Here is a portion:

TVLINE | For starters, why Root? Why was she the big loss entering this final salvo of episodes?
GREG PLAGEMAN | Root has always implored Harold Finch to make his machine more assertive in this war, and now, faced with what they’re up against, Root ultimately is the one who makes the sacrifice to save the father of The Machine, and that’s Harold. I think it’s true to Root’s character — her first love was The Machine. She always believed people were “bad code,” and more than anything she wants Harold’s machine to win this war. Her going down in this matter seemed apropos.

TVLINE | She did go down in a blaze of glory, after making one of the sickest kills in TV history.
JONAH NOLAN | Yeah, I was holding onto that one for a movie, but I decided Amy Acker was worth it…

TVLINE | In the million months since you filmed this episode, a controversy arose about TV shows killing off LGBT characters. But I think that in your defense, Root was a richly realized character, over four seasons. And as you have said, she died meaningfully.
NOLAN |  Thank you for that. We haven’t seen these other shows [that killed LGBT characters], so I can’t speak to that, but it’s really just about characters getting their due and not feeling disposable, and not feeling like the audience’s investment in a character is being used against them, or that they’re being set up for it. This was always the end of Root’s story, this was always where we were going. It became clear at the beginning of the season that this was the end of the ride for us… and Root’s journey has always been getting ever closer to The Machine, so the end of her story was always basically becoming The Machine. That’s another thing I thinks separates this from the pack, and this is how Root feels about it — it’s an evolutionary step. We’re not trying to sucker-punch the audience.
PLAGEMAN | We’re aware of the objections now to that [“Bury Your Gays”] trope, and I think we circumvent that in many ways. This is a real relationship between [Root and Shaw]. Not only was it consummated but there are real feelings there in subsequent episodes. Not to mention, as Jonah said, we’re heading down the final stretch here. This is not the only loss that Team Machine is going to encounter.

TVLINE | On the topic of consummation, although what we saw a few weeks ago was just a simulation, did I read somewhere that you said Root and Shaw actually first got “together” in Season 3, Episode 6…?
NOLAN |  We definitely implied as much at various moments. Look, we’re on CBS, there’s only so much we can show, a lot of that is left to the imagination…

TVLINE | Elias similarly went out as a hero. How important was it for you to “resurrect” him and get back Enrico Colantoni, if only for a short bit?
NOLAN |  Enrico Colantoni is a f–king magnificent actor, and has been such a fun collaborator for us over the years. We’ve always managed to make it work, when he’s available, and he’s had some great moments here. It was always the plan to fake his death and bring him ever closer to our team. If there’s one thing about the season I regret it’s not having a little more time to play with relationships like these, and spend a season with him on our team. But again, we’ve had to get to the end a little sooner than we wanted. We wanted to spend a little more time with Elias all the way inside the team, though we’d have to be careful with that — Elias isn’t much of a joiner! [Laughs] But that relationship between him and Finch has been so much fun to develop over the years, from the sort of chess conversations to really bringing him all the way in. The idea in this episode was that it’s almost like an avalanche of grief and loss bearing down on Finch, and the cumulative impact of it for Finch is watching as this set of decisions that he’s made, this sort of plan that he has held into all of these years, comes literally to grief with the death of two of his allies and friends.

TVLINE | The Machine actually speaking at the end, springing Harold from jail…. I almost feel like that’s Rocky getting up from the mat before pummeling Apollo Creed. Is our team about to rally?
PLAGEMAN | I got chills, man. One of the things that Elias really served to do…. When a character with that power says to Harold Finch, “You’re the one that people should be afraid of,” he gives that a certain weight and heft that we understand something’s coming for Harold Finch, because Elias told us so.
NOLAN | And at Comic-Con three years ago, when asked, “When will The Machine get a voice?,” we did say, “Someday, but you won’t like how it happens.” I think we fulfilled that mandate.

I was suspicious of Felix’s sister Adele when she showed up on the show, suspecting she worked for Neolution or some other group. After this week’s episode, she just might be what she seems. She filled a needed role of an attorney Donny and Alision could call on. She also had one of the best lines of the episode when she met Alison and noticed how she looks so much like Sarah, “with less anger and more hygiene.”  Next week Helena returns. I’d love to see Adele’s take on her.

Gillian Anderson has had some major genre rolls, including The X-Files, The Fall, and Hannibal. She will be working with Bryan Fuller once again on Amerian Gods. Variety reports:

Anderson will play Media, the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.

The attack of the White Walkers on the cave was one of the most memorable scenes on Game of Thrones recently. The above video discusses the making of that scene.

Outlander has been renewed for two additional seasons. This will also make it possible to have less of a delay between seasons. Homeland has been renewed for three additional seasons by Showtime, who will also be doing a series based upon Jonathan Frazen’s novel Purity. Amazon has renewed Transparent for a fourth season.

TV Line has news on next season’s big bad on Arrow:

Arrow‘s latest evil mastermind is heading to Star City by way of Baltimore. TVLine has learned exclusively that the CW drama’s upcoming fifth season will introduce a new villain loosely inspired by Idris Elba’s Wire drug kingpin Stringer Bell.

The character, tentatively named “Anton Church,” is a ruthless crime lord who sets out to fill the sizable void left by 960Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. The initial casting notice describes him as an “apex predator” who “cuts his way through the shadows” by taking down “the biggest threat first.” (Um, he’s looking at you, Ollie Q.). While the role is being likened to Elba’s classic Wire baddie, the breakdown also references ex-Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa as a physical prototype.

Arrow had a great big bad last season, but sure didn’t conclude the story very well. Hopefully the quality of Arrow will get back to what we saw the first two seasons.

Here’s something for fans of both Doctor Who and Marvel. David Tennant of Jessica Jones does Ask Marvel in the video above.

In other Doctor Who news, Steven Moffat recently revelaled that the role of The Doctor was once offered to a black actor, but it didn’t work out.

Captain America Hydra

There have been a lot of changes in both the Marvel and DC comics over the years. After the last two Captain America movies showed SHIELD to be infiltrated by Hydra, and now has Captain America and other Avengers on the run, there is an even more radical change in the comics. Steve Rogers is apparently an undercover Hydra agent. Of course, in the comics, this could be a trick, or just something to go on for a while until they reboot again.

Here is a review of the DC Universe Rebirth from Nerdist and additional spoilers from Bleeding Cool.

Rose McIver discussed the season 2 finale of iZombie and what might be coming in season 3.

SciFi Weekend: Controversy Over Death Of Lesbian Character On The 100; Orphan Black; Daredevil; 12 Monkeys; The Americans; Put A Bird On It

The 100 Clarke Lexa Kiss

Jason Rothenberg’s decision to kill a prominent LGBT character on The 100, and the manner in which she died, has made many fans of the show upset. At the time I first watched and reviewed the show, while I expected some disappointment and protest, I had no idea how serious a matter this would be to the LGBT community. Reviewing the discussion from those who did take it very personally, along with the views of television critics such as Maureen Ryan who is quoted below, help to understand the importance of this issue. After missing the significance of this in my original review, I hope to make up for it by providing this overview today.

I will start by allowing Rothenberg to explain his viewpoint. He was interviewed by TV Insider. Here are the first few questions, with much more in the full interview:

OK, so you had to be aware of the uproar that would come from killing Lexa, right? This was something that you guys had to realize you’d be walking into.
Yes and no. First of all, I think I should start by saying that for the last two weeks, I’ve pretty much thought about nothing else except for this. It’s taken me some time to process everything, and I’ve been listening, reading everything I could. I took my voice out of it on Twitter because I didn’t want to inflame the situation, and I felt like I didn’t want to shape the conversation. I just wanted to listen and try to understand. I mean, we were a little surprised by it—obviously not that people were upset; you’re right in the sense that we kind of knew that that would happen. The story that we’re telling is a tragedy. Lexa was a meaningful character to our fans, especially LGBTQ fans, and so I knew it would be emotional, of course. What was unexpected was the level of outrage that it’s generated from some people, but I do think I have come to understand that.

We’ve seen this with shows with strong social media bases: The louder the outrage, the more disturbing it can get.
Yeah. Lexa’s death triggered real emotional trauma for some people, you know? It tapped into the real world, it tapped into their lives, and as a straight white male, I obviously didn’t anticipate how deeply it would affect certain people. I look at it now and I realize that if somebody had that kind of a reaction and then were to look back at the way I behaved on Twitter leading up to it, which was celebrating this relationship that then crushed them, I can understand why they would find that reprehensible. I hope that people understand that.

Since there is no winning on Twitter, what do you want to say to the fans now?
I would say, first of all, that it’s taken me a while to get perspective on it myself and to put myself in the position of somebody who was hurt like that. And I hope that eventually they can start to put themselves in our position and understand that we would never want to hurt anybody like that. We would never want to hurt our fans. We love them, we owe them everything, we owe them the fact that we just got a Season 4 to them. We want to take them for a ride, we don’t want to hurt them. And because we didn’t anticipate this sort of level of pain over this fictional death, we were doing what we always do on Twitter, which was celebrating work that we’re proud of. In hindsight, knowing what I know now and sort of realizing the things that I’ve realized, we should have done less of that. We should have done less buildup knowing where this was going to end up and knowing how this was going to affect people.

But it wouldn’t have changed the story you’re telling.
No, absolutely not. We would have told the same story. I stand behind the story; I just don’t think I would have gone out of my way to say ‘This is the best episode we’ve ever done!’ Nobody really anticipated that this would happen so now that we’ve seen it, the idea for me as the showrunner going forward is to learn lessons from it, you know? This is a show where characters die. That’s another reason we were so surprised..it’s a post-apocalyptic world set 100 years later in which anyone can die.

The 100 Lexa Clark

Rothenberg also posted a statement on line a few days ago. Here are some excerpts, but those interested in the controversy should read his full statement:

For many fans of The 100, the relationship between Clarke and Lexa was a positive step of inclusion. I take enormous pride in that, as I do in the fact that our show is heading into its 4th season with a bisexual lead and a very diverse cast. The honesty, integrity and vulnerability Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey brought to their characters served as an inspiration for many of our fans. Their relationship held greater importance than even I realized. And that very important representation was taken away by one stray bullet…

In the show-world, no one is safe, and anyone, even a beloved character, can die, at any time. My favorite shows in this genre embrace a similar sense of heightened urgency. There are several reasons why this particular episode played out the way it did: practical (an actress was leaving the show), creative (it’s a story about reincarnation) and thematic (it’s a show about survival). Despite my reasons, I still write and produce television for the real world where negative and hurtful tropes exist. And I am very sorry for not recognizing this as fully as I should have. Knowing everything I know now, Lexa’s death would have played out differently.

The 100 is a post-apocalyptic tragedy set 130 years in the future. It’s a constant life and death struggle. In our show, all relationships start with one question: ‘Can you help me survive today?’ It doesn’t matter what color you are, what gender identity you are, or whether you’re gay, bi or straight. The things that divide us as global citizens today don’t matter in this show. And that’s the beauty of science-fiction. We can make a point without preaching. We can say that race, sexuality, gender and disability should not divide us. We can elevate our thinking and take you on a helluva ride at the same time.

But I’ve been powerfully reminded that the audience takes that ride in the real world — where LGBTQ teens face repeated discrimination, often suffer from depression and commit suicide at a rate far higher than their straight peers. Where people still face discrimination because of the color of their skin. Where, in too many places, women are not given the same opportunities as men, especially LGBTQ women who face even tougher odds. And where television characters are still not fully representative of the diverse lives of our audience. Not even close.

The 100 Clarke Lexa Thirteen

Maureen Ryan wrote about What TV Can Learn From The ‘100 Mess’ at Variety and helps explain why many fans are upset. Again, these are just excerpts and the full article is worth reading.

The response of the showrunner has, outside of a few unenlightening interviews, has been disappointing. Rothenberg live-tweeted the March 10 episode of the show as if thinkpieces and damning critiques were not still being churned out. In the limited array of interviews he did in conjunction with the March 3 episode, he has given little indication that he understands the depth of the sense of betrayal or the multitude of reasonable objections to the death story line. Since March 3, it has fallen to co-executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who wrote the episode, to engage with fans in any significant and meaningful way, but his compassionate and committed response has only highlighted Rothenberg’s abdication of responsibility...

So here’s the nitty-gritty: The character who died, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), happened to be one of the few well-developed and complex lesbians on TV, and it’s an unfortunate but enduring TV cliche that lesbians rarely, if ever, live happily ever after. In the March 3 episode, “The 100,” which had touted its commitment to quality LGBTQ storytelling, invoked one of TV’s oldest gay cliches by killing her off mere seconds after she consummated her relationship with another woman, Clarke (Eliza Taylor).

Many fans, regardless of sexual orientation, were left shaking their heads in disbelief.

On a story and thematic level, Lexa’s death (despite being well-performed by the actors) had little resonance and almost no meaning. But all things considered, the blithe manipulation LGBTQ fans and the show’s willingness to deploy harmful cliches about gay characters remain the things that rankle most…

Adding to the sense of betrayal was the manner of Lexa’s death. She was felled by a stray bullet from an angry male servant, mere seconds after she and Clarke had sex for the first time. The servant, Titus, disapproved of Lexa’s relationship with Clarke, whom he tried to kill, but Lexa caught the bullet. This woman — the most fearsome warrior in the show’s history — didn’t die defending Clarke; she just happened to be in the bullet’s path. And by following her only moment of bliss with her lover, the Grounder queen’s death followed a time-worn and disturbing TV pattern.

Autostraddle came up with a list of more than 130 lesbian and bisexual women who have been killed off on TV shows, and it’s a damning roster. Whatever progress you think TV has made on the front of LGBTQ representation, the sheer number of dead women on the list is profoundly troubling, to say the least. If nothing else, it shows that the Bury Your Gays trope is alive and well on TV, and fictional lesbian and bisexual women in particular have a very small chance of leading long and productive lives.

Critic Nicola Choi wrote that when they spot a lesbian or bisexual woman on TV, many LGBTQ fans simply resign themselves to the fact that the character will die.

The 100 Thirteen Lexa

Dany Roth tried to explain the matter to a conservative-leaning readership at blastr:

If you’re not part of the queer community, an ally of said same, or if you were never a fan of The 100, why should you care? If we’re boiling this down to the most selfish of reasons, it is because next time it might be you. And maybe it already has been you. Forget social justice for a second (as I know many of you often try to, anyway) — think about this as simply acting in the interest of fairness…

The reason Lexa’s death was so upsetting isn’t just because her face was a recognizable one for so many queer people, it’s also because she made the LGBT community feel more visible, more relatable. And it made them feel like they were being listened to. Every time someone tweets about why Lexa matters, each time someone challenges the “Bury Your Gays” trope and demands that writers and showrunners do better, someone who hasn’t thought about any of this hears why representation in stories matters for the first time. Even in death, Lexa is making LGBT people more visible.

Orphan Black Train

There is often much to think about and discuss after an episode of Orphan Black. This was especially true in the early episodes, when we had very little understanding of what was going on. Entertainment Weekly has good news on both of these points. BBC America will be starting a show, After the Black, to discuss each episode. Plus it sounds like next season might recreate some of the mystery of the first season, including going back to when Sarah first saw Beth jump in front of the train.

Taking a tip from AMC, BBC America has announced After the Black, a companion show that will air weekly following Orphan Black.

Hosted by Innerspace’s Ajay Fry, Morgan Hoffman, and Teddy Wilson, After the Black is a 30-minute after show that will feature various cast, crew, and special guest stars chatting about the plot, twists, and theories on future episodes. Other segments will include behind-the-scene footage from the set and an exclusive first look at the following episode.

The format is very similar to AMC’s Talking Dead, which airs weekly following The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.

The first post-game, which will air Thursday, April 14 at 11 p.m. ET following the season 4 premiere of Orphan Black, will include stars Tatiana Maslany and Kevin Hanchard.

As for the fourth season, executive producers John Fawcett and Graeme Manson revealed at WonderCon on Saturday that they’ll be going back to basics in a lot of ways by delving into a particular mystery from the pilot. “We really wanted to look at the first season this year,” Manson said. “We wanted to go back to that moment on the tracks with Beth and Sarah and go, ‘What did Sarah miss?’ There’s more story there.”

“We wanted to get that feel back, that feel of season 1 where you don’t know who the bad guy is, you don’t know who you’re speaking to,” Fawcett added. “That was the goal of season 4.”

Above is a trailer for season 4 of Orphan Black. There will also be new characters introduced:

Also this season, viewers are introduced to brand new characters that prove to be pivotal to the clones’ saga. Season 4 introduces Joel Thomas Hynes (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE) in the role of “Dizzy”, an edgy, self-reliant hacker who doesn’t conform to group mentality; Jessalyn Wanlim (Alex Cross) as Evie Cho, a powerful, seductively articulate bioengineer who believes great discoveries require casualties; Lauren Hammersley (MR. D) as Adele, a shameless, brazen, and wickedly intelligent lawyer who outwits opponents even when heavily intoxicated; and Gord Rand (Maps To The Stars) as Detective Duko, who on the surface appears to be unassuming and slightly nebbish, but has used his underlying angst to nastily claw his way to the top.

I will hold off on saying much about season 2 of Daredevil different  people are at different points with the Netflix model. Entertainment Weekly has the above interview with Charlie Cox which helps set up the season after the arrest of Wilson Fisk at the end of the first season:

“What we’ve done this year with the show is we don’t really have so much a Big Bad, but we have characters that enter Matt’s life,” Cox tells EW in a recent interview, viewable above. “They force him to look at himself and look at his actions in a way that no one else has done in the past.”

Those characters are, naturally, The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra (Elodie Yung). The first, as trailers have hinted, comes to Hell’s Kitchen with almost a similar purpose as Daredevil but with a much different modus operandi. And his methodology involves a lot more killing, which puts the entire city on edge shortly after coming to appreciate Daredevil’s work.

“It’s through Daredevil’s actions that someone like Frank Castle has been able to show up and do what he does,” Cox explains.

Yet putting a stop to The Punisher’s bloodlust isn’t the only obstacle thrown at Matt this season. Elektra, the “Greek girl” from college that Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) mentioned last season returns to New York. As portrayed by Yung, Elektra complicates Matt’s life both while he’s in and out of his crime-fighting costume, particularly when it comes to his burgeoning romance with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll).

“… Matt is completely authentic with both characters, but that authenticity is different with each character,” Cox said, calling this love triangle “one of the most enjoyable things for me to do as an actor this season.”

12 Monkeys returns on April 18. If we didn’t have the “problem” of so much good television, including genre television, now available thanks to cable and streaming, it might be tempting to rewatch the first season to review all the twists which occurred. While some hardcore fans are doing so, many of us just do not have the time. Syfy has posted the above seven minute recap to help the rest of us to catch up. It is certainly not enough for new viewers to start watching the show, but it is helpful for those of us who watched the first season.

americans-season-4

The Americans, which very well might be the best ongoing drama now on television (separating it from shows such as Fargo which have a different story each year) is off to an excellent start for its fourth season. There is so much which can be said about the quality of the story, but I figure those who are watching understand this and those who are not will not be interested in a play by play.

Besides all the big things, the show gets the little things better than most television shows. While many shows do a terrible job of working in children and home life (such as with Brody’s daughter on previous seasons of Homeland), Paige’s teenage angst, exacerbated by learning that her parents are Russian spies, has been a huge plus in driving the plot this season. Television story lines are often driven by misunderstandings, such as Stan thinking that Philip was sleeping with his wife. While that is a standard television trope, I really appreciated it when Phillip immediately explained the situation to Elizabeth and told her about going to the EST meetings, as opposed to dragging this out and creating further misunderstandings with her–as so many television shows would have done.

Plus so many interesting characters have been developed beyond the main characters. When The Americans inevitably ends, I’m looking forward to one spinoff based upon Nina Krilova in Russia, and another (or perhaps work in into a single show) in which Stan Beeman and Oleg Burov find some reason to team up after the Cold War ends. If Napoleon Solo can team up with Russian Illya Kuryakin on The Man From UNCLE, why not Stan and Oleg?

With all the talk the last few days about the bird at the Bernie Sanders rally in Oregon, prior to his big three-state sweep yesterday, above is a clip from the episode of Portlandia which started the slogan, “Put A Bird On It.”

To conclude by tying this in with the previous story on Daredevil, above is Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Jessica Jones) speaking in support of Bernie Sanders.

SciFi Weekend: Mr. Robot; Jessica Jones; Kimmy Schmidt; Person of Interest; Homeland; 24; Heroes; The DC Superhero Shows; Orphan Black; Blacklist

Mr Robot Finale Bar

After Mr. Robot won two Golden Globes for Best TV Drama and Best Supporting Actor (Christian Slater), cast and crew discussed the show at the Television Critics Association press tour. Here are some excerpts via Vulture:

The first-season finale ended with everyone’s favorite hacker confronting his painful delusions. The new season will begin with that struggle. “The whole show has been about Elliot’s emotional journey, and I really wanted to focus on that and less about the plot,” Esmail said. “And so, for me, the headline of season two is: How does Elliot reconcile the fact that he’s aware that he’s been seeing this fantasy?” Even as the first season entertained viewers with several twists and turns, Esmail said he’s not interested in “gotcha moments … Rami brilliantly plays Elliot in a way that he drops you into his psyche. So you’re learning it with him. As long as that is organic and that feels real, then I think the twists will come from there. But it’s not my agenda to keep shocking you. It really isn’t.”

Elliot’s past — and when his delusions began, and whom they involve — will become clearer in the second season. “There will be a lot more backstory that we’re going to show,” Esmail shared. “The timeline is going to get a little clearer. Not 100 percent clearer, because what’s the fun in that? But a little clearer.” Malek said Esmail has shared “enough” with him to help him start preparing for his performance. With this character, I have to prepare for anything at any given moment. I go through every direction as to what possibly happened to someone like this because in his head we never know what has happened. And I think having to trace back the truth and discover the truth ultimately makes him more complex to play — just trying to decipher what he’s actually seen and where he’s actually been. When I think about that, it kind of haunts me as a human being, having to do that. And that’s the place he finds himself in approaching this next season.”

Elliot is an unreliable narrator, and yes, there are other things he’s shown viewers besides the identity of Mr. Robot that we shouldn’t trust. After Esmail revealed that during the panel, Malek asked him, “Do I know? Do we know?” The answer: “No.”

Jessica Jones Luke Cage

Krysten Ritter discussed the sex scenes in Jessica Jones during the press tour. Considering both the highly favorable reception for the show and discussion of season two in several years, I assumed that it was already decided. Apparently a second season was not official at the time, but Netflix has now made it official. Plus elsewhere there is talk about season two of Daredevil, and about  Iron Fist,

Netflix has also announced that Orange is the New Black will return on June 17, 2016 and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns for its second season on April 15th, 2016. Kimmy Schmidt has also been renewed for a third season.

Person of Interest season 5 will air this spring, and CBS President Glenn Geller left open the possibility that it could be renewed. Perhaps airing in the spring, when there aren’t as many new episodes of network shows, will result in high ratings to justify renewing it. On the other hand, the show has an extensive back-story and a lot of episodes to catch up on which makes it difficult for new viewers to get involved. It would be interesting if someone could put together the parts of episodes dealing just with the mythology of the show and cut all the number of the week stories.

Homeland will be coming back for a fifth season, taking place in New York. I finally gave in and completed watching the last season over the holidays. It was better than some recent seasons, but still far below the first season. There were also some vague references to Quinn’s fate:

The closest thing to a teaser came in the form of a cryptic update on Quinn, who was not having a good time at the end of last season. “Quinn is very damaged, no question about that,” the network’s president of programming, Gary Levine, said, according to Deadline. “If he should live, he won’t be in the shape and form he was.”

If this (and multiple other shows) don’t give you enough stories on fighting terrorism, Fox plans to reboot 24 with a new case.

Heroes Reborn will not be coming back for a second season, and there is no reason it should.

73rd ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Melissa Benoist, Grant Gustin, Presenters at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

We sort of had a Supergirl/Flash crossover at the Golden Globes when Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin presented an award together. (I wish they had the two race up the stage to see whether Supergirl or the Flash is faster.) There have been rumors and denials of a crossover on their television series for some time. CBS president Glenn Geller has now left an opening for such an event. I hope Arrow is included as I think that Kara and Felicity would get along very well together. More on the possibility of a crossover here.

The Flash and Arrow will be returning on CW, along with the premiere of DC’S Legends of Tomorrow. The producers have been denying internet rumors that Felicity will become Oracle. (I don’t think anyone really believes she was killed.)  Some news here, including that the remainder of the season on The Flash will deal with Zoom and the show’s multiverse.

The Americans, one of the best dramatic shows on television the last few years, returns on March 16. Some teasers on the upcoming season and future of the show here.

The above teaser has been released for season 4 of Orphan Black.

Blacklist appears to have wrapped up the Lizzie on the run storyline which dominated the first half of the season. The Director turned out to be less powerful that initially suggested as the Cabal literally had him dropped. Reddington has said it was time to “take down the Cabal” but it appears to remain alive and well (even if weaker). Things are much like before except it appears Lizzie will now be working with Reddington as an FBI asset as opposed to an agent. Plus it is not clear if Reddington is now a part of the cabal. If so, does that mean they are still an evil group trying to get us into World War III with Russia? Will Reddington still be helping the FBI capture people involved with the Cabal?Plus is Laurel Hitchen in charge, or just the highest ranking person we see, and how dangerous will she be now that everyone is on to her?

SciFi Weekend: Arrow (Is Felicity Dead?); Martian Manhunter Joins Supergirl; You’re The Worst; Fargo; The Leftovers; More Renewals

Arrow Felicity Shot

Mid season finales have now become a big thing on network television as many shows take a hiatus for the holidays, while some cable shows have completed their season. There were several big WTF moments on television recently, often, but not entirely, part of a midseason or season finale.

Two of the superhero shows from Andrew Kreisberg  and his group featured big WTF moments. The biggest one would be the death of Felicity on Arrow if anyone really believed it was real. Last year we saw Oliver die and come back to life, with Thea and Sara Lance having also come back from the dead. While there is no longer a Lazarus Pit, it seems a safe bet that they would never kill off Felicity. They replayed a portion of the grave scene, to imply that it was Felicity’s, but we’ve also been led to believe that the scene takes place later this spring, not currently to coincide with Felicity getting shot.

While there could be misdirection, Emily Bett Rickards is also present in set photos (such as here) from episodes still being filmed.

This leaves the question of who is in the grave. While there are other possibilities, at present I like the fan theories that it could be Samantha or William Clayton, Oliver’s former girlfriend and their son. This would explain why all of Team Arrow, along with Felicity’s mother, weren’t at the grave site if it was Felicity’s. In a recent interview, producer Wendy Mericle did warn of “serious consequences” that “come to a head” because of the decisions Oliver made regarding them. This most directly seems to be regarding Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, but perhaps it also leads to putting Samantha or William in danger.

Supergirl Martian Manhunter

The big WTF moment on Supergirl was that Hank Henshaw didn’t turn out to be an evil alien as many fans suspected. As with Harrison Wells on The Flash, Hank Henshaw’s body was taken over by someone else, but in this case not be someone evil. Henshaw turned out to be J’onn J’onzz aka The Martian Manhunter. The show’s producers discussed this with The Hollywood Reporter:

“It’s the secret of Supergirl: Within the body of the series of Supergirl, there is a Martian Manhunter series rolling throughout it,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the thing that makes us giggle the most.”

Back when the showrunners were on set to shoot the pilot, the idea to make DEO head Hank the Martian Manhunter was initially floated as a joke.

“[DC Comics CCO] Geoff Johns, [executive producer] Greg Berlanti and I were saying, ‘It’s so funny we cast David because he’s got those weird ears. Like alien ears,’ ” Kreisberg says. “I don’t remember which one of us said it, but it was like, ‘If we were ever going to make a Martian Manhunter show, David would have been the perfect Martian Manhunter.’ And Geoff said, ‘Well, why can’t he be?’ We already had it set up that Hank was keeping this bad secret, and then we started thinking about well, what if it was a good secret? You think he’s bad but then he turns out to be not only good, but the most good person in the DC universe.”

…Executive producer Ali Adler teases that John’s abilities will blow Kara’s out of the water. “He’s got such tremendous powers,” Adler says. “We really want to show off what he can do, and we’re definitely going to do that in upcoming episodes.”

“There’s a lot of fun to be had,” Harewood adds. “He’s a shape-shifter so he can be whoever he wants to be. So you’ll find me being other members of the cast at some various points of the story.”

You're The Worst Season 2 Finale

You’re the Worst picked up a renewal for the third season as the second season concluded, plus Stephen Falk received a deal to produce additional shows for FX and FXX. While the second season of You’re The Worst was not as good as the first, Stephen Falk deserves credit for taking the season in such a different direction for the second season. I suspect that it might have been the added depth he showed in the second season which led to his deal to produce additional shows.

The arc with Gretchen’s depression showed more depth in writing by Falk, as well as acting by Aya Cash, but it was the comedy, not potential for such drama, which made the show television’s best (even if under-rated) sitcom last year. Another consequence was that there was less interaction between the story lines of the various characters. On the plus side, this ultimately did lead to further development in the relationship between the two dysfunctional leads. Gretchen decided to consider medications for depression, which she never considered in the past, now that she was involved with someone else who was affected by her depression. (Her friendship with Lindsay doesn’t count.)  Jimmy almost ran off with the girl who owns the bar, but in the end did not. Plus the two of them managed to tell each other that they loved the other, even if it required them to be drunk at the time.

Fargo Flying Saucer

Noah Hawley will not only be doing more of Fargo, but has signed a deal to develop additional shows for FX. He had one of the big WTF moments on Fargo last week (“It’s just a flying saucer, hon”), and there is still an episode to go. A UFO was also seen briefly in the first episode of the season. I now wonder if it will play a role in the finale, or just be something without further explanation. It sounds like it will be the later from Hawley’s comments. Perhaps Fox is getting us ready for the return of The X-Files.

Fox has renewed Wayward Pines for a second season. I haven’t seen this one, but a recent plug for the show and news of its renewal might change that.

The Leftovers 2x08 – International Assassin

The Leftovers has been renewed for a third and final season on HBO. This sounds about right. The second season was much better than the first, having completed the events of the Tom Perrotta novel and now able to explore new territory, but I’m not sure there is enough to do in this world which cannot be wrapped up in one more season.

This is the perfect series for Damon Lindelof . He can write about how people respond to unexplainable situations, without being expected to ultimately give an explanation as on Lost. A lot happened in the season finale, but for me seeing the Guilt Remnant show up and seeing Mary wake up was nothing compared to the WTF moment in the eighth episode, International Assassin, when Kevin was in a  hotel from purgatory, if not hell. That episode alone made the season a success.

Blacklist has been much better this season with Elizabeth on the run with James Spader’s character. It has been renewed for a fourth season.

Melissa Benoist Homeland Supergirl

Showtime has renewed Homeland and The Affair. After its slip in quality over the years, I haven’t watched this season of Homeland yet, but might watch binge it Netflix style if time permits. There are many reasons to remember the first season fondly, but the recent start of Supergirl has led to additional attention for the show as viewers recall a topless Melissa Benoist being asked questions such as whether she enjoys anal sex and other women in the first season of Homeland. (Video here–not safe for work.)  Kara would turn as red as the star she was born under if asked those questions on Supergirl.

Person of Interest strangely is not appearing on CBS’s schedule yet. There is speculation that it is being held back until spring or summer, and hope that maybe it can be renewed beyond this year if it is more successful than Extant and Under the Dome, which have been canceled.

The Man In The High Castle, which I completed this week, ended the first season with a couple of WTF moments. One was foreshadowed by events in the book, despite some major differences between the book and the television series. As there are still likely to be many who have not finished the series yet, I’m holding off on discussing this streaming series, as well as Jessica Jones, a little longer. Both are highly recommended.

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Mr Robot; Jessica Jones; Patrick Stewart; DC Television Universe; Star Wars Expansion at Disney; The Last Ship; Person of Interest; Homeland

>Hannibal mask

…And The Beast From The Sea continued the portrayal of Red Dragon on Hannibal, and provided the first glimpse of Hannibal Lecter wearing the mask he is famous for in the movies. Hannibal remained in contact with the Tooth Fairy, and even joked about using personal ads or notes on toilet paper to facilitate this in a reference to the novel where this was a more substantial plot point. Hannibal suggested that Dolarhyde  kill Will’s family, leaving viewers uncertain if he would succeed in killing Molly or Walter. Instead a guy just happening to drive by became the victim. Dolarhyde presumably also poisoned the dogs, but fortunately they also survived.
In some ways Hannibal seemed even more evil in this episode, placing Will’s family in risk in this manner. (“They’re not my family, Will”). To Hannibal, perhaps Will is his family, but Molly and Walter are just in the way. Elsewhere in the episode,it was not surprising to see Dolarhyde’s relationship with Reba fall apart, despite how Hannibal characterized the relationship.

Jack and Alana showed again that they do not really understand Hannibal, thinking he would assist them in tracking a call to Dolarhyde. Hannibal played with them, and then tipped off Dolarhyde  with the warning that they were listening. Hannibal had previously given Alana the ominous warning, “I always keep my promises.” Now it was Alana’s turn: “You’re not the only one who keeps their promises, Hannibal.” In response to this latest betrayal. She had all the amenities removed which kept Hannibal so comfortable, “The toilet, too.” As these were removed from the cell, the mask was placed on Hannibal for the safety of those in there.

Mr Robot Darlene

On Mr. Robot, Elliot had a brief meeting with the time-obsessed White Rose, but it was the meetings and surprise interactions between older characters on the show which were of greater interest. There is a major spoiler ahead for those who have not seen this episode yet.

The first big surprise was that Angela and Darlene not only knew each other, but at yoga class both talked about Elliot, showing concern for him. Later there was the meeting between Tyrell Wellick and Mr. Robot, with the two apparently working together, even if not entirely comfortably. This seems to confirm that Mr. Robot is real, but raises major questions, especially for those who think that Mr. Robot and Elliot are the same person.

The biggest scene was when Darlene told Elliot that she loves him, Elliot kissed her, and Darlene recoiled in horror asking, “Did you forget who I am?” Soon it was revealed that Darlene is Elliot’s sister. It was as if Luke had kissed Lea, but is Mr. Robot now Darth Vader?

This led to memories flooding into Elliot’s head. Going meta, Elliot looked at the camera and asked us viewers, “Were you in on this the whole time?” and then“Were you?” Maybe to some degree we are in on it, but we are also quite confused at the moment, also looking for answers.

There was the suggestion that Mr. Robot is Elliot’s father, previously said to be dead. This has been interpreted differently by fans who think that Mr. Robot and Elliot are different manifestations of the same person, and those who think he is a separate and real individual. Mr. Robot showed up at Elliot’s apartment to supposedly explain, so maybe we will learn the answer next week. I wonder if the show will move onto a quite different path as it heads toward its second season.

jessicajones-netflix-509x480

Indiewire reports that Jessica Jones will be a psychological thriller, reporting statements from executive producer Jeph Loeb and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg at the TCA Press Tour. They also discussed a major role for David Tennant:

“When we first sat down and started talking about ‘Daredevil,’ what we said was, for all intents and purposes, it was a crime drama first and a superhero show second,” Loeb told the room. “One of the things we’ve talked a lot about is that ‘Jessica’ is in many ways a psychological thriller first and then a superhero show second.”

…Loeb then went on to say that Tennant’s role in the show would be a key part of what differentiates “Jessica Jones” from other superhero series: “What you get out of ‘Jessica’ is a sort of hold-your-breath tension as to what’s going to happen. When you see the dynamic between Krysten Ritter and David Tennant… that question of ‘What’s going to happen next?’ and ‘What could happen next?’ and how that’s driven by character is something that is so important to not just the scripts but also the way the show is shot, and the way that everyone reacts, and the way those two react with each other.”

Elsewhere in the Marvel universe, Professor X (Patrick Stuart) will have a substantial role in the third Wolverine movie.

white-canary-lazarus-pit

Moving on to DC, next season we will see the return of Sarah Lance on ArrowAusiello discussed how Lance responds to the return of Sarah:

Frankly, it could be the last thing Sara’s family needs! “Thanks to Laurel helping him see the light at the end of last season, Lance is back on the wagon for now, trying to keep on the straight and narrow,” Paul Blackthorne previews. “But that will of course be tested when Sara comes back from the dead. Because I think when your daughter’s coming back from the dead, she may not necessarily come back as quite the same person. Yeah, that’s going to be an issue for the family to deal with!’

Her return will also be in an episode with a cross over from Constantine, who assists with her return to life, which in turn leads into the origins of Legends of Tomorrow.

Despite previous reports to the contrary, CBS is now saying there will not be crossovers between Supergirl and Arrow or The Flash. Reportedly they are in the same universe, so this might be open to reconsideration if the right story is presented.

Disney has always provided synergy between their films, theme parks, and merchandise. Therefore it was no surprise to find that, with Star Wars expected to be a huge blockbuster film this December, there will be a fourteen acre expansion based upon Star Wars at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

TNT has renewed The Last ship for a third season.

Sarah Shahi is returning to Person of Interest following her maternity leave. She will return early in the season and be present for eight or nine episodes of the upcoming thirteen episode season.

The firth season of Homeland sounds like it might be expanding its story lines, dealing with Edward Snowden, Putin, and ISIS.

Donald Trump told a boy on a helicopter ride in Iowa that he is Batman. That is about as ridiculous as Hillary Clinton claiming to be a liberal.

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Season Finale; Arrow; Orphan Black; Hannibal

THE AMERICANS -- "March 8, 1983" Episode 313 (Airs Wednesday, April 22, 10:00 PM e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings, Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings. CR: Patrick Harbon/FX

The season finale of The Americans felt more like a mid-season break, consistent with the earlier statements from the producers that they were carrying the plot threads from the third season into the fourth. This makes good sense as shows such as Homeland have shown how easy it might be to use up the story lines which really propel a show and then have to search for a reason to continue.

There were at least two major plot lines addressed in this episode, with one providing a major cliff hanger. Taking Paige to meet her Russian grandmother only served to make her more upset about her identity, leading to the final scene when she called Pastor Tim and told him that her parents are Russian spies.

There are many conceivable ways that this can go. Will Pastor Tim, assuming he believes the story, feel obligated to preserve her secret? Assuming that Elizabeth and Philip find out, will they make sure that Pastor Tim does not survive to tell anyone? There is also speculation among some fans that Pastor Tim is also a spy, but that might be a too convenient way to resolve the issue.

While this is the major cliff hanger of the season, the Martha story line also remains more fascinating after last week’s revelation. This week we learned that Martha is still alive, and that Philip covered for her by framing an FBI tech person for planting the bug. We still don’t know what cover story he is now telling Martha. Does Martha now know he is a Russian spy, or maybe she thinks he is working for a more secret US organization. Martha clearly knows that the person was framed, and should be able to figure out that his suicide was actually a murder. There is a lot for Martha to consider here. This all has Philip questioning his life as he searches for answers at the EST meetings, while Elizabeth has no doubts, especially while listening to Ronald Reagan call her home the evil empire.

the_americans_ep313

Producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields discussed the cliff hanger with The Hollywood Reporter:

Why did you decide to leave it on a cliffhanger?

Fields We’re glad to hear you say it’s a cliffhanger. We talked about that in the room actually, whether or not it should be called a cliffhanger. I suppose it’s a cliffhanger in the show in the sense that one really wants to find out what’s going to happen next, and that’s a good thing. But, to us, it’s all about the characters. What’s most interesting to us is what’s going to happen to these people next, and what personal dramas will they go through next. That’s always more interesting to us than someone kicking in the door with a gun in their hand.

Weisberg We’re also used to drama where a cliffhanger means that somebody is or isn’t going to die or something like that. So the idea that the real question is: Is this guy who got a phone call going to make another phone call? We were really debating if that would count as a cliffhanger.

Fields More like a telephone-hanger. (Laughs.)

And why did you choose for the cliffhanger to be Paige telling Pastor Tim the truth about her parents?

Fields We knew Paige was going to tell Pastor Tim for quite some time, but we just didn’t know exactly where it would fall in the drama — just like we knew that Philip and Elizabeth were going to tell Paige, but we didn’t know exactly where that would fall into the drama. This family is truly a family, and as such loves each other in its own way. Yet, at the same time, their family has blind spots. The idea that these parents had thought that they had gotten through a rough patch with their daughter and thought that things were on an even keel while missing entirely what was going on, it just rings very true. Somebody just said in our writers’ room today, “What’s really going on is that Philip and Elizabeth have an adolescent.”

For all we knew, Paige could have turned into her own KGB agent this episode. When did you know the story wasn’t going in that direction?

Fields Toward the last third of the season.

Weisberg We considered the possibility of her making that phone call the night that they told her, and then we decided that we definitely didn’t want to do that. So then it became a question of whether or not she would tell them this season or next season, and the finale seemed like the perfect point. What’s most moving in a way is how much pain she’s in there after she comes back from her trip with her mother, and how she expresses that pain and what it drives her to do. For us, it was really moving just to see her crying there in bed when her parents are in the next room not really able to connect with her or fully comprehend how much she’s suffering. Then we have her call Pastor Tim and so openly and clearly express the pain she’s in, which is something her parents are not able to do.

Arrow -- "The Fallen" -- Image AR320B_0053 -- Pictured (L-R): Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, and Willa Holland as Thea Queen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TV Line has information from Marc Guggenheim on what happens the rest of this season on Arrow now that Oliver has remained with the League of Assassins following his deal to save Thea:

With Oliver choosing to stay behind in Nanda Parbat, “the character journey of [Episode] 321 is how the hell Team Arrow moves forward without Oliver,” Guggenheim previews. Whereas last time the group thought he was dead, “knowing that he’s out there and alive, but a member of the League of Assassins, that’s a whole lot harder” for Team Arrow to handle, the EP adds.

“There is a real trinity formed between Laurel, Diggle and Felicity,” Guggenheim says. “They’re all leaning on each other. They’re processing things in different ways. Laurel is throwing herself into her work saving the city. Felicity is struggling with heartbreak and grief. She really goes through the seven stages of grief with Oliver. And Diggle, something happens in [Episode] 21 that really upends Diggle’s world, certainly vis-à-vis Oliver. That’s something that will have repercussions for the remainder of the season.”

The EP adds that next week’s hour is “one of our most emotional episodes” because it’s a baddie-of-the-week installment in which “the villain of the week is Oliver.”

So with the hero giving in to the darker nature of the League, what does his future hold?

“The last three episodes spend a lot of time addressing the question of: ‘Is there hope for Oliver?’” the EP says. “And: ‘Is there hope for Oliver in Felicity’s mind?’ [Episodes] 21 and 22 have some very specific things to say about that and Felicity’s coming to grips with the conclusion of Episode 20.”

ORPHAN BLACK s03e02

The second episode of Orphan Black this season included the return of Sarah pretending to be Beth Childs, and for a second episode Tatiana Maslany also provided the voice of another character, the scorpion. Something is clearly wrong with the Castor clones, and finding the original clone lines might provide the clue, or at least propel more episodes this season.

Logic tests might be useful to evaluate the neurological status of some clones, but Helena sure messed that up in dwelling on finding the mangoes and discussing the issue with the scorpion. Plus we know more about Cal, we saw Allison and Donnie as drug dealers, and it is time for Kira to leave for a while to get away from too many stories about having to save her.

Buddy TV discussed the episode with the show’s creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett:

What went into the decision to have Seth’s death happen the way it did and to start the episode off with that crazy threesome?

Manson: “First on the crazy threesome. The crazy threesome was just something that we – you know…I guess what it was was when we looked at those characters, it seemed like they would potentially, because they grew up together, that they share, because they’re brothers. They share and I think that they’re of a very different kind of upbringing than our girls, and so that because they’re brothers and they share…I don’t know, it just seemed like there was a natural kind of sharing, that sexual exploits would be part of that.

But the further answer to that question is that we just thought it was kind of something that we hadn’t seen before, but it would be kind of a really terrifying way to begin the episode, to discover actually there’s a second person in the room with you. From this woman’s point of view, it’s very scary to realize that the other person in the room is a twin.”

Fawcett: “It’s also a transgression and a crime that we do not take lightly throughout the season.”

Manson: “And then in regards to the termination of Seth at the end, what’s different about this is that that is very much a mercy killing, and it is meant to be a very emotional moment. The fact that these boys have this potential terminal illness is a really horrifying kind of thing that they all have to come to grips with, and I think it’s an emotional moment between Rudy and Seth there that we wanted to explore.”

Is the glitching from the Castor clones equivalent to the illness we see with the Leda clones?

Manson: “It’s part of our scientific mystery, and discovering what ails them, it sort of parallels our Ledas searching for what their own disease is, so that is indeed part of the story, part of the mystery we’re unfolding and part of our scientific mystery.”

Is that what Project Castor is testing for, with the questions Paul asks Seth and Rudy and Helena’s being asked?

Manson: “Again, as part of the mystery of what is biologically with the Castor clones, that’s just kind of the tip of the iceberg to some degree. The thing that we do know after watching episode 2 is we do know that the Castor clones, whatever’s wrong with them, whatever’s potentially causing this, is neurological, and so I think that that’s where these tests come from, and it’s our little tip-of-the-hat homage to Blade Runner.”

Digital Spy has eleven spoilers from Bryan Fuller on the third season of Hannibal.

Netflix has renewed Daredevil for a second season.

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.

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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.”

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.

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.”

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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.”